How To Leverage Southwest Airlines Rewards

by Credit Card Wisdom on July 10, 2013

Southwest Airlines is the most under-rated frequent flier program in the United States. Although its Rapid Rewards programs lacks the first class and international awards that members of other programs aspire to, travelers can leverage this program in many other ways.

Earning Southwest Points

Credit card users can earn points in Southwest Airline’s programs from several different Chase credit cards. There are four different Southwest Airlines credit cards, two for personal use and two for business. Each of these cards earns one point dollar spent on most purchases, and two points per dollar on Southwest and AirTran purchases.

But in addition, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Southwest points from many of their cards. The Sapphire Preferred, Palladium, Ink Bold, Ink Plus and Ink Classic cards all feature point to mileage transfers. If you have Ultimate Rewards points earned from a standard Sapphire, Freedom, or Ink Cash card, you can’t transfer points to miles. But if also hold a card that is eligible for mileage transfers, you can move your Ultimate Rewards points to an eligible account and then make the transfer.

Maximizing Southwest points

Unlike most frequent flier programs, Southwest Rapid Rewards points have a fixed rate of about 1.75 cents each. So there really is not a lot of strategies to maximize your awards in the same way as traditional mileage programs.

But at the same time, travelers should be aware of all of the benefits of the Rapid Rewards system. For example, Southwest has no change fees, even for award flights. What this means is that travelers can book a ticket using their points, and then be eligible for a refund of some points if the fare goes on sale. Simply go to their home page, choose “change flight”, and enter your name and confirmation number. Next, search for your new flight, even if it is the same as the old one. Before confirming, you will be shown any additional points required, or points returned, based on the new fare.

Furthermore, Southwest award tickets are essentially refundable. If you cancel your flight, or even if you fail to show up, the points get returned to your account. Even your taxes are refunded in the form of a voucher (your confirmation number becomes a voucher number).

So by understanding how to earn and use Rapid Rewards points, you can use Southwest airlines awards in ways that are not possible with other airline programs. is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. receives compensation from the credit card issuers whose credit card offers appear on the website. The compensation may impact the order in which they appear within listing categories. does not include the entire universe of available credit or financial offers. Our editors rate credit cards objectively based on the features the credit card offers consumers, the fees and interest rates, and how a credit card compares with other cards in its category. The Editor's Picks credit cards are the expert opinion of our editors, and not influenced by any remuneration this site receives from card issuers.
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