Wanna Get Away • The Company Club, the first loyalty program of Southwest Airlines, began on June 22, 1987. With The Company Club, members collected stamps on a paper card and could trade 16 stamps for a free roundtrip ticket across the airline’s route network.
The free flight after 16 segments policy continued when the program transitioned to Rapid Rewards on April 25, 1996.
When Rapid Rewards relaunched on March 1, 2011, it moved from a credit-based program to a points-based program where both earning and redeeming points are tied to the fare paid and type of fare purchased. Points don’t expire like credits did, but members can no longer rely on being able to automatically claim a free roundtrip ticket after 16 flights.
While fees for early boarding and in-flight WiFi were introduced to the mostly fee-free airline in recent years, passengers can continue to make changes to flights (both cash and award) without change fees and can check two bags for free.
Rapid Rewards members earn points based on the fare type and fare cost. Members earn six points per dollar spent on the base fare and excise tax on Wanna Get Away fares, 10 points per dollar spent on Anytime fares and 12 points per dollar spent on Business Select fares. Business Select fares earn twice as many points as Wanna Get Away fares. Fly on a $200 Wanna Get Away fare and you’ll earn 1,200 points compared to 2,000 points on a $200 Anytime fare and 2,400 points on a $200 Business Select fare.
Members can also earn points with car rentals, hotel stays, dining, retail and credit card partners.
If there is a seat available on a flight, members can redeem points and book an award ticket. But if you travel during high demand times, the number of points required can be more since award prices correlate with paid fares. For example, members can book a Wanna Get Away award ticket from Denver to New York City for between 7,380 and 10,980 points most days in November. But if you want to return to Denver from New York City on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the lowest price is 50,400 points.
Wanna Get Away awards can be redeemed for 60 points (increasing to 70 points on March 31, 2014) per dollar of the fare (not including tax), Anytime awards can be redeemed for 100 points per dollar and Business Select awards can be redeemed for 120 points per dollar. For example, a $200 fare would require 12,000 points for a Wanna Get Away ticket (14,000 points beginning March 31), 20,000 points for an Anytime ticket and 24,000 points for a Busi- ness Select fare. Business Select fares earn twice as many points as Wanna Get Away fares and similarly require twice as many points for redemption. Members who purchase Business Select fares and redeem for Wanna Get Away fares will earn the most points and get the most value from their redemptions.
Until the program relaunched in 2011, flights were the only possible award redemption. And for many members, redeeming points for award flights remain the sole redemption option. Members who are card-carrying Rapid Rewards Visa members have access to additional awards, including international flights, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, experiential awards and other types of awards with the “More Rewards” program.
For example, a $50 Amazon gift card is available for 5,000 points, a ticket to a New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos game starts at 83,523 points, a hotel stay at Hilton San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf starts at 36,000 points and we found roundtrip flights on other airlines between New York and London starting at 85,000 points. In general, the best value you can get from your points is when using them for Wanna Get Away fares but for those who want the option to redeem points for non-flight awards, the More Rewards program offers a variety of options.
Hotel partners include Best Western, Carlson Rezidor, Choice, Hyatt, La Quinta, Marriott, MGM Resorts International, Starwood and Wyndham as well as The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas. Each hotel partner offers 600 points per stay. Members can also convert their hotel loyalty program points into Rapid Rewards points (conversion ratios vary by hotel).
Car rental partners include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty and earning is the same as hotels at 600 points per rental. Members can also earn 150 points each way (300 points roundtrip) when booking ground transportation with SuperShuttle or ExecuCar.
Southwest offers four variations of their co-branded credit card, the Rapid Rewards Visa. Both the Rapid Rewards Plus card ($69 annual fee) and Rapid Rewards Premier card ($99 annual fee) come with a 25,000- point signup bonus (occasionally bumping it up to 50,000 points), two points per $1 spent on South- west and AirTran flights and Rapid
Rewards partner hotel and rental car purchases and one point per $1 spent everywhere else. As mentioned above, cardholders have the exclusive ability to redeem points for international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards and exclusive events.
With the Plus card, members earn 3,000 bonus points every year on their card anniversary. Premier card- holders receive 6,000 bonus points on their card anniversary every year and 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points toward A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent on the card, up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually. Both cards are also avail- able as business cards with the same benefits and annual fees.
In addition to providing credit cards, Chase also offers mortgages and Rapid Rewards members can earn between 12,500 points and 50,000 points for obtaining a new Chase mortgage.
Rapid Rewards partners with Diners Club and 1,500 Club Rewards points can be transferred to 1,200 Rapid Rewards points. Chase Ultimate Rewards members can transfer points into Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
Other partners include the dining program where members earn three points per $1 spent at participating restaurants and new members can earn a bonus of 300 points after spending $25 and completing a restaurant review in the first 60 days after enrollment. Dining members also earn 500 bonus points after earning 1,500 points and 300 bonus points for every subsequent 1,000 points earned.
The Rapid Rewards Shopping online portal allows members to earn points when shopping with online retailers such as Target, Sears, Kohl’s and Lands’ End. Rapid Rewards members can earn 1,000 points on each Teleflora order. Members can also join e-Rewards or e-Miles and earn points for participating in market research surveys and responding to email marketing messages, as well as earn points for signing up with participating electricity providers in some states.
Members who fly at least 25 one-way flights or earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year qualify for A-List status and receive reserved “A” boarding privileges on purchased and award flights. Southwest will automatically reserve an “A” boarding pass for A-List members beginning 36 hours prior to departure. A-List members also receive priority check-in and security lane access (where available), 25 percent bonus points, a dedicated A-List phone line and priority standby status. A-List members can also receive reciprocal tier status with AirTran Airways.
Southwest offers A-List Preferred status to customers who fly 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year. A-List Preferred members receive all of the benefits of A-List status plus a 100 percent point bonus and free inflight WiFi.
Members who fly 100 one-way flights or earn 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year are eligible to receive a Companion Pass, allowing them to take along a friend on any flight for free. Members can only earn one Companion Pass but they can change their designated companion up to three times within the validity period of the pass.
Rules & Conditions
There are no blackout dates or capacity controls and if there is a seat available on a flight, you can redeem points for it. Points don’t expire but members must earn or redeem at least one point from flying or partner activity every 24 months to keep your account active. If your account becomes inactive, all points will be forfeited. Awards are fully transferable but points cannot be pooled or combined.
Members cannot combine cash and points for an award ticket but points can be purchased online in blocks of 500 with a minimum purchase of 1,000 points for $27.50. You can also transfer points in 500-point increments with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points for $10. Special fares, such as senior, infant, child, military and government fares are not eligible to redeem with points. There are no fees to make changes to an award ticket or cancel your itinerary and redeposit the miles.
Members can contact Rapid Rewards customer service via email, phone or in writing. Rapid Rewards employees are known for being friendly. Unlike most airlines that charge a fee to book an award over the phone, Southwest does not charge for phone award reser- vations. The online email form requires you to enter your name, email and mailing address and a phone number before sending your question or comment. We received a response to our email inquiry within 24 hours.
Online enrollment is available and members can view and manage their accounts online. The online award calendar works really well and you can easily switch back and forth between miles and points and view a low-fare calendar that will show you either the lowest fare or lowest point value on each day for a month at a time. Missing flight credit requests can be made online up to 12 months after your flight. For missing partner credit, you will need to contact the partner company directly.
[+] Plus Features
Points never expire as long as your account is active within the last 24 months. Because flight awards are based on the fare price, redeeming for short-haul tickets can be a good deal compared to the standard 25,000 miles required for a domestic flight regardless of length. There are no capacity controls and any available seat can be booked with points.
Booking awards over the phone is free and there are no change fees if you need to revise your itinerary (although you will have to spend additional points if the cost of the flight goes up). Checked bags are free for all SWA customers and frequent travelers can earn a Companion Pass and bring someone along for free. A-List Preferred members receive free in-flight Internet as an elite benefit.
[-] Minus Features
Beginning in March, members will need to redeem more points for Wanna Get Away fares when the price in points goes from 60 points to 70 points per $1 of the fare cost. Members don’t know exactly how many points they will need for an award flight since the number of points required fluctuates. AirTran Airways is Southwest’s sole airline partner, which limits the possibilities for international travel. Credit cardholders can redeem points for flights on other airlines to additional international destinations but the number of points required is high.
Report Card from Readers
[tabs slidertype=”top tabs”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext] Anonymous [/tabtext] [tabtext] Dan [/tabtext] [tabtext] Lucas [/tabtext] [/tabcontainer]
Southwest Rapid Rewards is probably among the better frequent flyer programs. It is relatively easy to accumulate points via special offers and promotions and being guaranteed availability on any flight is a plus against legacy programs that severely restrict award travel. Rapid Rewards is almost the only program which is in anyway comparable to the rest of the industry and you cannot evaluate it in isolation to their other product offerings. In addition, Southwest’s business model has been “evolving” to become more like a legacy airline, while retaining the “perks” of their low-cost past. They are no longer the price leader; true LCC’s and even legacies have evened the playing field.
Just recently Southwest announced the devaluation of Rapid Rewards points by increasing point conversion ratio from 60 to $1 to 70 to $1 for discounted fares.
I give them an “F”. I think them robbing our accounts by lowing our buying power is a TOTAL SHAME.
For the average middle manager who doesn’t care about sitting in first class, waiting in a club lounge and wants a rewards program that allows him to fly somewhere for work, and then then take his family somewhere for vacation, Southwest RR is unmatched.
Example: August flight to Denver. $500 Business Select ticket 12 points per $1
+ 12/$1 Bonus points for A-List Preferred
+ 12/$1 Denver Promo
+ 12/$1 RR Visa Promo
+ 2/$1 RR Visa credit
= 25,000 points on ONE roundtrip.
With Companion Pass, that gives me about two roundtrip WGA fares for TWO! Fly one get four free? Show me ANYTHING close on another airline.
Lucas[/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]
Overall Score: 7.43
Earning Ability: 7.0
Award Choices: 7.0
Elite Level: 7.0
Rules & Conditions: 8.0
Service Support: 8.5
Online Services: 8.0[/box]
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
PO Box 36657
Dallas, Texas 75235