Obviously this isn’t the time to buy points speculatively. However, there are also lots of people planning last minute trips to get home, or planning travel way in advance, so if that applies to you, buying points at a discount could be worth considering. That’s why I’ll keep covering deals to buy points as they arise, though I’d generally shy away from these promotions for the time being.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards has just rolled out their latest promotion on purchased points. The concept of a revenue based frequent flyer program selling points has always been strange to me, so let’s take a look at the details.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are 45% off
Through May 22, 2020, Southwest is offering a tiered discount when you purchase Rapid Rewards points, as follows:
- Buy 2,000-9,000 points, get a 25% discount
- Buy 10,000-14,000 points, get a 35% discount
- Buy 15,000 or more points, get a 45% discount
Southwest lets you purchase at most 60,000 Rapid Rewards points per day, though there’s no annual limit on how many points you can purchase. Southwest ordinarily charges 2.75 cents per purchased Rapid Rewards points.
With this promotion you could purchase a total of 60,000 Rapid Rewards points for $907.50, which is a cost of ~1.51 cents per Rapid Rewards point.
How much are Southwest points worth?
Southwest Rapid Rewards is a revenue based frequent flyer program, and the number of points required for a flight is directly correlated to the revenue cost of a flight. As a general rule of thumb:
- Southwest Airlines Wanna Get Away fares cost 76-78 points per dollar
- Southwest Airlines Anytime fares cost 78 points per dollar
- Business Select fares cost 78 points per dollar
In other words, each Rapid Rewards point is worth somewhere around 1.3 cents towards the cost of a ticket on Southwest Airlines.
Is buying Southwest Airlines points ever worth it?
Let me cut to the chase — there’s virtually no situation where it makes sense to purchase Rapid Rewards points.
Even at the discount cost, there’s not value in buying points for ~1.5 cents each when you can only redeem them for ~1.3 cents each.
There are two potential scenarios I’d like to address.
Buying points to top off for an award
Some might buy points in order to top off their account so they have enough points for a Rapid Rewards award ticket. I guess this might be worth it to some if you need 1,000 points or something, though personally I’d just keep collecting points and then redeem with your next ticket.
That’s especially true when you consider that the cost is lowest to buy points when you buy a lot of them, so you’ll pay even more per point if you buy a small quantity.
Buying points with Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is one of the best values in domestic travel. It requires earning 125,000 qualifying points in a year, and if you get this, you can always have a companion travel with you for just the standard taxes, regardless of whether you’re booking a cash ticket or redeeming points.
For those with a Companion Pass, buying Southwest points could get you outsized value:
- You could buy points for 1.5 cents each
- You could then redeem them for 1.3 cents each towards travel and have a companion fly with you, meaning you’d get 2.6 cents of value
However, there’s still absolutely zero reason to do that. You’d be better off just booking a paid ticket and then having a companion fly with you.
Which credit card should you buy Southwest points with?
If you’d like to buy Southwest Airlines points (for whatever reason), note that purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as an airfare purchase for the purposes of credit card spending.
Therefore I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach minimum spending, or otherwise, a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spending.
Other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points
If you’re looking to earn Southwest Airlines points, there are a couple of best ways to do so:
- You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio
- Southwest has several excellent co-branded Chase credit cards, which offer big bonuses
Southwest is selling Rapid Rewards points for up to 45% off, which brings the cost down to ~1.5 cents per point. This is among the lowest costs we’ve seen on purchasing Southwest points.
However, there really are no circumstances under which you should buy Southwest points, in my opinion.
Anyone have a different take on the value proposition?