How Much Are Southwest Airlines Points Worth?

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Last week Chase launched the deal of the year, an 80,000 point initial bonus offer for the brand new New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card (after $5000 spend within 3 months).

When I value points where I’m indifferent to holding them versus cash I place Rapid Rewards points at 1.3 cents apiece. That’s in some measure because you earn a rate of return on cash that you don’t holding miles; that miles are more likely to devalue; and cash is more flexible in what it can purchase.

However when we look at the travel that Southwest Airlines points will buy Southwest Airlines adjusted the Rapid Rewards program last year so that a point goes just as far regardless of the type of fare you’re redeeming for (previously the more expensive the ticket the less value points had).

Generally speaking the cost of an award ticket is the base airfare times 78. That makes a Southwest Airlines point worth 1.28 cents apiece. However Rapid Rewards redemptions aren’t subject to most taxes, including the 7.5% excise tax on domestic airfares and airport charges. When you factor in the tax savings each Rapid Rewards point buys you 1.5 cents apiece in travel.

Since 80,000 points buys you 1.5 cents apiece in travel, the initial bonus on the New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is worth $1200.

But the bonus is worth so much more than that because it counts towards a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.

  • 110,000 points in a calendar year earns a companion pass. The initial bonus plus the points earned on the card from spending count towards that total.

  • When you earn a companion pass (rather than receiving a promotional one) — and this offer gets you most of the way there — it’s valid for the rest of the calendar year and the entire next calendar year.

  • So this offer can get you 2019 and 2020 and since you’re also earning a lot of points those points can cover a lot of air travel for you to take along a companion for the cost of taxes alone.

When you earn a companion pass you can get twice as much value out of each points, and 80,000 points becomes potentially worth $2400 in travel.

And that’s before you get to the travel benefits this card offers. Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card personal card, cardmembers receive 4 upgraded boardings per year, A1-15 boarding, which you purchase at the gate and get statement credit back for.

southwest performance business card priority boarding

Southwest Performance Business Card cardmembers are eligible to receive a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. But a unique benefit is Southwest Airlines inflight wifi credits.

I regularly pay $8 per flight for internet on Southwest Airlines. This card will give you up to 365 wifi purchase credits per year. And employee cards come with no annual fee, so I believe getting extra cards should allow you to spread around the wifi credit benefit.

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The points don’t become twice as valuable because you have the companion pass. The companion pass is worth $X depending on how you use it, and the points are worth $1,200. For example, you can buy a ticket with cash and still use the companion pass. If you used 80,000 points exactly in the year you have the companion pass and a companion on all of those flights and exactly 2 people, you could say the points and the pass are worth $2,400, but that is one case of $1,200 + $1,200. The companion pass is a separate value, the value of tickets companion uses in that year (could be $0, could be $5,000, etc.)

  2. Gary – if I get this card I have to spend 30k to get the companion pass, right? Under those circumstances, and assuming I could get the old personal and biz cards, wouldn’t it be better to get those two cards in late 2019? Then I could get hit the spend in early 2020 and get the companion pass for ~23 months with minimal spend ? Even assuming those cards are 50k/$3k, I would have to spend $10k (vs $30k here) to get the pass?

  3. @Lkl – you need 110,000 qualifying points total, that can be from card spend or flying or online shopping portal purchases etc. 80k plus points from spending to earn the 80k gets you most of the way there. One way to top off is via another personal card.

  4. “When you factor in the tax savings each Rapid Rewards point buys you 1.5 cents apiece in travel.”

    This is not correct, for more than one reason. You can get over 2 cents apiece from a WN point.

    And WN points are better than cash for many people, since if you refare or cancel the ticket, all the points all come back to your account without cost or encumbrance instead of you getting a credit that will expire.

    I am not going to type up 3 long paragraphs explaining in detail; its been covered for years at Flyertalk.

    It’s also best to wait until about mid-October to get this new card, as you can then shoot for a Companion Pass in early 2020, making its validity period almost 2 years.,

  5. @Gary

    If you had to guess, how long will this offer be available? The timing on getting this card to have the bonus points Post in 2020 would be crucial for me

  6. I already have Companion Pass for 2019. Is it best to do this late in 2019 to get CP for 2020 and 2021? Is that how it works? And will this deal last til then? Thanks in advance.

  7. While it’s great Southwest finally after almost 7 years of having to wait until a decent contract offer was made to the Southwest mechanics the still don’t do the majority of the heavy maintenance of their planes. They unfortunately send this work to outside of the company to be done (do they not trust their own mechanics? For instance here are quick numbers of the 4 largest United States Carriers amount of planes and Mechanics. (Rough figures)
    Delta- 900 aircraft 9,600 mechanics
    United – 780 aircraft 9,000 mechanics
    American – 960 aircraft union says 31,000 mechanic and related

    Then their is Southwest Airlines 750 aircraft and ONLY 2,400 mechanics

    So an approximate ratio of mechanics to aircraft
    Delta – 10.5 mechanics per
    United – 11.5 mechanics per
    American – 32 mechanics per

    SOUTHWEST – 3
    If these numbers don’t make you think why Southwest isn’t clearly the leader in cheapest faire on every flight everywhere. Along with no first class and no real international flights.

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