Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is the loyalty program of Southwest. And since the Airline is going to begin serving Hawaii soon, now is the time to familiarize yourself with their loyalty program.
Hawaiian Airlines’ HawaiianMiles is the undisputed king of loyalty programs among Hawaii residents. And while it’s not a bad program, it isn’t all that great either. There are tons of options available to us, as you know from previous posts, but Hawaii’s newest option could also be the most rewarding.
Rapid Rewards Basics
At first glance, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards doesn’t seem like anything special. After all, the program is a revenue-based one. As a result, you’ll earn points (yes, points, not miles) based on how much you spend and what class of service you fly:
- Wanna Get Away?®: 6 points per $1
- Anytime: 10 points per $1
- Business Select®: 12 points per $1
On the redemption side, Southwest continues to do things differently. Rather than basing their redemption rates on a confusing array of factors, they use the current ticket price. So if a ticket is more expensive, so too will the award rate and the opposite is true too. Unfortunately, though, this means there’s no award chart to reference. But, this also means that as long as there’s a seat available for sale, you can redeem points for it. To price out award flights with Southwest, visit their website and log in to your account.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards has three elite tiers in its program; A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass. And much like other airlines, you’ll need to meet certain, annual flying requirements to achieve these levels:
- A-List: 25 one-way segments or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points
- A-List Preferred: 50 one-way segments or 70,000 tier qualifying points
- Companion Pass: 100 one-way segments or 110,000 tier qualifying points
Tier qualifying points, by the way, are base points. This means that only points you earn from your ticket purchase and from certain credit card spend counts towards Tier status qualification. So having a tier status and earning bonus points on your flights as a result of it won’t count towards qualification.
Tier Status Benefits
Those Tier Status bonuses, by the way, are as follows:
- A-List: 7.5 points per $1 on Wanna Get Away?, 12.5 points per $1 on Anytime, and 15 points per $1 on Business Select fares
- A-List Preferred: 12 points per $1 on Wanna Get Away, 20 points per $1 on Anytime, and 24 points per $1 on Business Select fares
Companion Pass members earn points at the same rate as A-List Preferred Members.
As far as benefits go, aside from the above bonus earning rates, Tier members enjoy:
- A-List: Priority Boarding, Free Same-Day Standby, Fly By Priority Check-In and Security Lines, and a dedicated A-List member phone line
- A-List Preferred: enjoy the same benefits of A-List plus a dedicated A-List Preferred member phone line and free onboard WiFi
- Companion Pass: enjoy all of the A-List Preferred benefits, plus choose one person to fly free (excludes taxes and fees) with your whenever you purchase a redeem points for a flight.
And, remember, all passengers on Southwest may check up to two bags free of charge. Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are always free too.
Other Ways to Earn Points
One of the great things about Rapid Rewards is how easy it is to earn bonus points. Like many other loyalty programs, you can earn points through partner activity, such as dining, shopping, car rentals, and hotel stays. Southwest also has its own co-brand credit cards from Chase with annual fees ranging from $69 to $150. But, even better, Chase Sapphire cardholders may also transfer Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. This means Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders effectively earn 3 Rapid Rewards points on all dining and travel spend. On the other hand, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority earns just 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other spend.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Final Thoughts
Southwest Rapid Rewards is a completely different animal when compared to other airline loyalty programs. And it’s a program that definitely has its strong points, especially on the lower end of the redemption spectrum. However, before committing to Southwest, you’ll need to ensure the airline is for you. That’s because, while the airline does have hubs, they do a good deal of point-to-point flying too. Further, Southwest doesn’t allow seat selections, nor do they offer a differentiated first class or extra space product. Nor does Southwest partner with any other airlines. So, obviously, Southwest isn’t going to be for everyone.
But, if Southwest appeals to you, then great! You’ll have another option for your Hawaii and North America travel. Unfortunately, though, we don’t yet know how the existing program benefits will apply to the Airline’s upcoming Hawaii service. Only time will tell, and hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to find out. After all, rumors state that Southwest should begin ticket sales for Hawaii routes this month, and we’re already midway through the month.