Understanding the Southwest Airline’s Frequent Flier Program

Understanding airline rewards program can be challenging, and when Southwest airlines redesigned their rewards in 2011, it meant that all of their frequent flier customers had to go back to the drawing board and get a solid understanding of how the rewards program now works. Here, we will take a quick look at what the rewards can do for you.

Southwest basis the amount of points you will need to fly based on the dollar amount and class of the flight. Here is a list of miles needed to fly based on numbers taken from Southwest’s site.

Business Select: 120 points per dollar

Anytime: 100 points per dollar

Wanna Get Away: 60 points per dollar

Scenario: This means that if you were booking a $200 round-trip ticket, you would need 20,000 points for an “Anytime” fare. Compared to a lot of programs this is a bargain, especially considering that there is no blackout dates. Plus they do not have any reserved seat restrictions as do most other airlines. This makes your points much more valuable, because if there is a seat available, you can use your points to fly.

Frequent fliers such as yourself are normally pretty interested in making sure their miles do not expire. With Southwest’s program, you will need to earn more miles once every 24 months to keep you miles from expiring. You can do that by flying, or by getting their credit card.

Earning rewards is the name of the game. Every time you fly on a Southwest flight, you can get more points added to your account. The number of points you earn is based on the dollar amount and type of flight you are taking, at 1/10 of the value it takes to redeem. This means that a Business Select flight gives you 12 points per dollar, an “Anytime” flight gives you 10, and a “Wanna Get Away” fare adds 6 points per dollar back to you.

They offer 2 credit cards, both through Chase bank. The first card, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Visa costs $69 per year and the Premier card costs a little more at $99 per year. At the time of this writing, most of the new cards were being offered an interest rate of 14.24% variable APR. Base on my research, I actually think the card with the higher annual fee is better. Each year these cards receive an annual bonus of points. The Plus card gives 3,000 bonus miles, while the premier card is given 6,000 bonus miles. In “Wanna Get Away” fares, that means that a premier card holder could book a $100 flight with his bonus miles alone.

For your daily spend with the Southwest car you can earn 1 mile per dollar, and paying for Southwest flights will give you 2 miles per dollar.

The other advantage of being a Southwest card holder is that you have access to their “More Rewards” program. This program allows you to use your miles for other items such as hotel stays and international travel. If you do not have this credit card, Southwest restricts you to using your miles only on Southwest flights.

Want to find out more about Southwest Rewards Credit Cards?

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