Southwest is running a promotion to buy points with up to a 45% discount on points purchases through May 20, 2022. Loyalty members who buy at least 15,000 points will score Rapid Rewards points for just 1.51¢ per point.

While this seems like a good deal at first glance, it may be worth thinking twice before pulling out your wallet. That’s because Southwest devalued its Rapid Rewards points last year. Now, Southwest points generally have a fixed value of between 1.3-1.5¢ each. So, does it ever make sense to buy them for 1.51¢ apiece? Let’s dig in.

Banner image for current promotion to buy Southwest points, showing end date and tiers in the offer

A Note on Buying Points

At AwardWallet, we don’t generally recommend buying points and miles speculatively. Most loyalty programs sell points at a price point that makes it difficult to receive outsized value, so you’re often better off holding onto your cash.

However, there are at least a few exceptions. The first is when you only need a few more points to complete a redemption you’re planning. Buying points can make a lot of sense here, since it’s one of the fastest (and easiest) ways to top off your account balance.

The second is when buying the points necessary to book a flight you want via points is cheaper than paying the cash rate. Third, if you’re struggling to meet a credit card sign-up bonus spending requirement, buying points can be a quick way to spend now for travel later.

Key Terms

  • Point purchases through May 20, 2022 (promotional period) can receive up to a 45% discount.
  • Minimum purchase is 2,000 points (no discount).
  • You must purchase at least 3,000 points during this promotion to receive any discount.
  • The maximum discount kicks in at 15,000 points.
  • Loyalty members can buy a maximum of 60,000 Southwest points per day, with no annual maximum.
  • Purchased points do not count towards A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass qualification.
  • Purchased points may take up to 72 hours to post in the applicable Rapid Rewards Account.
  • Transactions are non-refundable.

This is a tiered promotion, with the following purchase rates:

  • 5,000-9,000 points — 35% discount (1.79¢ per point)
  • 10,000-14,000 points — 40% discount (1.65¢ per point)
  • 15,000+ points — 45% discount (1.51¢ per point)

The 45% discount will get you 60,000 points for $908. That’s 1.51¢ per point.

Screenshot of pricing if I buy the maximum number of Southwest points in the current deal

Buying Points with a Fixed Value

Southwest’s loyalty program is a little different from the rest. In many ways, that’s a good thing. For instance, you can redeem points for any flight with seats available, you can easily cancel or change your booking with industry-leading flexibility, and every passenger can check two bags for free.

However, unlike some of the other major U.S. airlines, Southwest assigns a fixed value to Rapid Rewards points. This means that the award price is directly tied to the current cash price of the ticket. After a Southwest devaluation in early 2021, Southwest now charges between 81-83 points per dollar of base fare.

After factoring in taxes and fees, you’re generally left with a per-point value of 1.3-1.5¢ — depending on the taxes and fees on the flight. The advantage of this is that you’ll never be left wondering if you’re getting a good deal. The disadvantage is that this makes it nearly impossible to buy and redeem Southwest points for outsized value like you can with AAdvantage miles or Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

Sample Redemption

Let’s look at an example itinerary to see if buying Southwest points makes sense.

Screenshot of a sample Southwest flight from LAX to LAS

This non-stop itinerary from Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS) is going for a reasonable cash price of $43.98 after taxes. If you were to book this flight with points, it would cost 2,269 points + $5.60.

Screenshot of pricing for lax-las fight on southwest using points

If you could buy exactly 2,269 Southwest points at 1.51¢ a piece, it would cost $34.32. After adding the $5.60 security fee, you’re left with a total cost of $39.92. That’s about $4 less than the cash price, so you’d save a little bit.

But that’s before considering other factors. If you bought the flight with cash, you’d earn 164 Rapid Rewards points from taking the flight. That’s not much, but it eats into the advantage of buying Southwest points. Then there are the rewards you would earn for buying the ticket using a credit card with a good return on travel spending. Also, you need to buy Southwest points in increments of 1,000 points. That makes it hard to buy just the right amount of points for a flight.

There are two tips for maximizing your Southwest redemption value: buying cheap tickets and connecting itineraries.

When redeeming points for a flight, you don’t have to pay the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) that’s collected by the airline and remitted to airports. On really cheap flights, the PFC can be a significant amount of the cash price. And, on connecting itineraries, you have to pay the PFC to multiple airports. Therefore, you may be able to get more than 1.51¢ from your Southwest points in the case of a cheap connecting itinerary.

Buy Southwest Points to Top Off Your Account

One of the few circumstances where it can make sense to buy Southwest points is when you’re just a few points shy of that next redemption–and you’re on a time constraint. AwardWallet tracking shows that Southwest points are immediately deposited into a Rapid Rewards account. So, if a sale is ending soon and you don’t want to pay the full cash fare, buying points to top off your account might make sense.

However, there’s an even better solution to that problem. Southwest Rapid Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. That means that points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card can be transferred (instantly) to Southwest to top off your account in a pinch. Since earning Ultimate Rewards doesn’t necessarily cost you anything (apart from maybe an annual fee), it’s a cheaper solution than buying Southwest points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual Fee$95
Welcome BonusEarn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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Maximize Your Purchase

Like many other loyalty programs, Southwest uses (a third party) to process point purchases. Why does that matter? Although the purchase occurs on Southwest’s website, it won’t qualify for any travel category bonus offered by some credit cards.

In cases like these, the best card for your purchase will be a new card with a minimum spending requirement for a welcome bonus or using a credit card optimized for everyday purchases. Some of the best cards for that include:

  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Citi® Double Cash Card

It’s also worth noting that one of the payment options you’re able to select is ‘Rapid Rewards Credit Card’ when buying Southwest points. While not 100% guaranteed, this should trigger the applicable multiplier for a Southwest purchase if you pay with a Southwest co-branded credit card. Those bonus points would change the math on the value you get from the purchase, so it’s something to consider.

Other Ways to Earn Rapid Rewards Points

If you aren’t as pressed for time, another way to build your stash of Southwest points is with a co-branded credit card. Chase offers a full portfolio of Southwest cards. Among the best of these offerings is the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. The current sign-up bonus offers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Annual Fee$199
Welcome BonusEarn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Show more

Bottom Line

Southwest didn’t use to offer many buy points promotions, but it’s lately offered quite a few. This sale offering 1.51¢ per point matches the best promotion offered recently. Still, it’s always worthwhile to evaluate the promotion and do the math for your situation. In many cases, it won’t make sense to buy Southwest points, but it can be a deal for the right redemption.

The current discount allows you to snag points for a bit more than what we consider face value. But, it’s generally better to acquire Southwest points through co-branded credit cards, shopping portals, or converting Ultimate Rewards.

Do you plan to buy Southwest points for 1.51¢ each?

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