Real World Machine values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents (USD) each. By our calculations, this makes Rapid Rewards points more valuable than Delta, United, JetBlue, or Alaska miles, equally as valuable as American miles, but less valuable than Virgin America miles (which Alaska bought in 2016 and is merging into their network).
Measured as a reward points rebate for non-elite members, the Rapid Rewards program rebates you 9.0%, in the form of points, for your spending on airfare, exclusive of taxes and most fees, with Southwest Airlines. Those at the top elite status level, which is A-List Preferred, get an 18.0% points rebate.
On a related note, Southwest Rapid Rewards elite status is worth between $680 to $7,641, depending on the elite tier.
How Did We Calculate the Value?
The value of one point is determined primarily by the award mileage cost to redeem Rapid Rewards points towards flights. Award flight redemption costs are are based on 20 air routes…10 domestic and 10 international. For consistency, the same air routes are used to compare multiple airlines.
The valuation also factors in the variety of redemption options, the size of the Southwest’s network, and the availability of awards. Like JetBlue, Southwest’s award availability is reasonable, although the points cost of award flights is largely based on the cash price of the flight (revenue-based redemption).
|Related:||Calculator: How much are my Rapid Rewards points worth?|
Southwest does not perform well on these criteria. While their domestic reach is decent (although it still falls short of the legacy carriers), their international reach is limited to just a handful of Latin American and Caribbean destinations. There is no class of seating other than economy (i.e., no business class or first class). As an airline that does not participate in an airline alliance, Southwest points can only be redeemed towards Southwest flights*…even JetBlue, which is also not affiliated with an alliance, allows redemptions on partner Hawaiian Airlines.
*Southwest co-branded credit card holders are able to redeem Southwest points towards flights with other airlines.
Want to see more? You can check out our full table of the value of one point, and the average rebate percentage (in points) per dollar spent, for leading airlines like American, Delta, United, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska, and Virgin America along with hotel, rail, and rental car travel providers.