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Earning airline miles using the traditional method (actually flying) is just one way to boost your account balance. Fortunately, airlines make it relatively easy to accrue miles without flying, whether through top credit card offers or by utilizing shopping portals. You can also purchase miles directly from an airline, and on the heels of similar promotions from United, Alaska and American, Southwest has now joined the party with its own bonus.
Here’s how it works: From now through December 8, you’ll earn a bonus of 40% when you buy 5,000 or more Rapid Rewards points. The bonus miles will automatically populate when you select a base amount of 5,000 points or higher. The regular price of buying points from Southwest is 2.75 cents per point, so this bonus offer actually drops your price down to ~1.96 apiece.
Here’s how to take advantage of the promotion:
- Visit Southwest’s Buy Miles page.
- Log in to your Rapid Rewards account.
- Verify your information, select the number of points you want to purchase (remember that you must purchase at least 5,000 to earn the 40% bonus) and click Continue.
- Add your credit card details and click Continue.
- Review the information, check the box to agree to the Terms and Conditions and click Continue to finalize the purchase.
Keep in mind that the usual restrictions for purchasing Southwest points apply to this promotion, including the following:
- You can purchase a maximum of 60,000 points per member per day (though there’s no annual limit).
- Purchased points do not count toward elite status, nor do they count toward Companion Pass qualification.
In addition, the transaction is processed directly by Points.com, so it isn’t eligible for an airfare category bonus on a card like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card.
Is this worth it?
In TPG’s most recent valuations, he pegs Southwest points at 1.3 cents apiece, and since the bonus only brings your price down to just under 2 cents per point, this is hardly an intriguing promotion. If you max out the promotion and purchase 60,000 points, you’ll take home 84,000 points at a cost of $1,650. Jason Steele’s analysis of Southwest award tickets after the program’s April devaluation found that redemption values varied from 1.25 cents to 1.9 cents per point. In other words, even at the very high end of the spectrum, you’re still paying more to buy the points than you would to just buy the ticket outright.
Southwest actually offered an identical promotion back in August, and TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen came to the same conclusion. The only way this might make sense is if you’re several thousand points short of a redemption that would only be possible by purchasing these points.
There are many other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points without flying, including the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. These points do count toward Companion Pass qualification, and you could even get one for almost two years if you play your cards right (pun intended). For more information on this card, check out my post One Year of Earning and Burning with the Southwest Premier Visa.
Southwest is also a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, so you can convert points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred to Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. However, this may not offer the best value proposition either, so be sure to read Richard Kerr’s guide to Redeeming Ultimate Rewards Points for Maximum Value for additional suggestions.
Southwest’s revenue-based redemption scheme means that purchasing Rapid Rewards points typically doesn’t offer a great value, but at least this 40% bonus brings the price much closer to the higher end of the redemption spectrum. If you have a specific redemption in mind and need several thousand Southwest points, it might make sense to take advantage of this promotion. Just be sure that you purchase at least 5,000 points and crunch the numbers to make sure you’re getting the best value possible.
Will and of you be taking advantage of this new promotion?
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards