The best ways to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Wanna Get Away fares are the way to go with Southwest Rapid Rewards

Using Southwest points

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One of the joys of the Rapid Rewards program is that Southwest makes it simple to figure out what your options are and which options offer the best value. You can quickly calculate the value of your points by viewing a list of flights by price and then clicking the “points” option on Southwest’s select flight screen.

However, to cut to the chase, we’ve summarized your list of options and the value for each option in the list below:

Southwest redemption options


Point value (cents)
Wanna Get Away fare 1.6
Anytime fare 1.1
Business Select fare 0.9
Gift cards
0.7
Car rentals 0.7
International flights 0.8
Merchandise
0.6
Hotel
0.2
Experiences 0.8

Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for airfare

If you want to get the best return on your Rapid Rewards points, your best bet is to redeem them for airfare on Southwest Airlines. Southwest offers a great value on most of its flight awards:

Wanna Get Away fares

Wanna Get Away fares offer the best value for your points – around 1.6 cents per point on average. The tickets are not quite as flexible as Anytime and Business Select fares – you won’t get a full refund if you cancel a ticket that you paid for in cash, but, Southwest will redeposit your points into your account if you paid with points, so this is a moot point for award tickets. However, you’ll want to book well in advance since they tend to get snatched up quickly.

Anytime fares

An Anytime fare is nearly the same as a Wanna Get Away fare, except that the ticket is fully refundable and the price is much higher. If you can’t find a Wanna Get Away fare for your desired date and location, then an Anytime fare is your next best bet. You’ll garner around 1.1 cents per point on an Anytime fare.

Business Select fares

Business Select fares give you a few more privileges on Southwest – you’re entitled to priority boarding, a priority security lane and free drinks. However, the price of these fares is high and you get such a poor value on redemptions – around 0.9 cent per point – that we don’t think it’s worth it to redeem your points for Business Select fares.

Southwest More Rewards options

The Southwest More Rewards site exists to provide a few more redemption options for Rapid Rewards members who aren’t satisfied with their flight choices with Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately, the value of most items on the More Rewards site is so poor, we wouldn’t advise using your points this way:

Gift cards

You can find gift cards for a wide variety of restaurants and retailers on the Southwest More Rewards site for amounts of $25 to $100. While you’ll get the best return on $50 to $100 gift cards, the value of gift cards is poor across the board, averaging only 0.7 cent per point.

Merchandise

You can redeem Rapid Rewards points for a variety of merchandise, such as clothing, electronics and home furnishings. As with most rewards programs, merchandise is one of the worst ways to redeem your Rapid Rewards points. You’ll only get 0.6 cent per point on average.

Car rentals

You can use Rapid Rewards points to rent cars from a selection of agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National. Your Rapid Rewards points are worth only 0.7 cent per point on average when redeemed for rental cars.

International flights

While your options for international flights is very limited on Southwest Airlines, you can find options for international flights on more than 50 carriers through the More Rewards site. The flight search works very much like any travel portal, where you can search by origin, destination and date and you are given a list of flights on different airlines sorted by price. Unfortunately, this option cuts your point value in half. When we compare the number of points required for a fare to the price of the fare, the value averages 0.8 cent per point.

Hotels

Similar to international flights, you can use the More Rewards site to search for hotels in various cities. This is by far the worst option for redeeming Rapid Rewards points. In doing a comparison of the redemption value for hotels in various cities, we found points to be worth only 0.2 cent on average.

Southwest Experiences

You can redeem Rapid Rewards points for various experiences, such as tours, museum admission and activities. The pricing varies quite a bit with each item on the list – some experiences appear to be overpriced, but there are some good deals to be found here and there (and some unique ideas for activities on your next trip), so the list is worth a look. 

Bottom line

As mentioned, Southwest keeps your redemption options simple. While you have a few different options for redeeming points, you should probably stick to redeeming points for airfare – more specifically, Wanna Get Away fares. You can count on getting around 1.6 value on each point that you redeem for a Wanna Get Away fare – this is a great value, why settle for anything else?

The best card for Southwest flyers

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card

Why should you get it?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is by far the best value for a frequent Southwest flyer, thanks to its $75 travel credit and 7,500-point annual bonus.

More things to know: 

 

  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 20,000 additional points if you spend $12,000 in the first year
  • 7,500 bonus points each year after your card anniversary
  • $75 annual travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases made with your card

 

 

See Related: What are Southwest points worth?, Southwest credit cards, Best ways to earn Southwest pointsBest ways to redeem Southwest points, Southwest Airlines partners, Southwest A-List status, Booking a rewards flight with Southwest, How to earn the Southwest Companion PassRapid Rewards Shopping guide


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Updated: 11-16-2018