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This week, Southwest launched a new buy points offer: Now through May 16, get up to 50% bonus points when buying at least 15,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. We don’t often see buy-points deals from Southwest, so this promotion likely leaves many Southwest flyers wondering whether this is a good deal.
For better or worse, Southwest points have a fairly defined value. You’re not going to be able to get spectacular value out of buying points and redeeming them for first-class awards like you can with Alaska miles. Instead, Southwest award flights are redeemable based on the following general formula:
- Business Select fares: 78 points per dollar (1.28 cents per point)
- Anytime fares: 78 points per dollar (1.28 cents per point)
- Wanna Get Away fares: around 76-78 points per dollar (1.28-1.31 cents per point)
That said, this formula is based on the base airfare cost, before taxes and fees. So, the actual value you’ll get from an award will be around 1.4-1.5 cents per point. TPG’s current valuation of Southwest points sits at 1.5 cents per point.
Armed with that in mind, let’s check out how much Southwest is selling points for during this promotion:
|Buy Points||Discount/Bonus||Price Per Point|
|Buy 2,000 — 4,000 points||No discount or bonus||3.0 cents|
|Buy 5,000 — 9,000 points||30% bonus points||2.11 cents|
|Buy 10,000 — 14,000 points||40% bonus points||1.96 cents|
|Buy 15,000 — 60,000 points||50% bonus points||1.83 cents|
As you can see, even with the 50% bonus, the price of Southwest points is much higher through this promotion than the value you’d get from them.
But what about if you’re just shy of an award? First, keep in mind that the standard rate for buying points is punitive at 3 cents per point — more than twice the value of the points. But even when you’re looking to top off your account with 15,000+ points, I’d suggest you look for another source. Your best bet for quick Southwest points are Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer to Southwest instantaneously.
If you’re short of a redemption and have some time before booking a flight, I’d recommend generating more points by signing up for a — or spending on an existing — Southwest card like the:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
If you have a business, you can sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and earn 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Or, you can earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards with a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel and dining; 50,000 point sign-up offer after spending $4,000 in the first three months), Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel and dining; 60,000 point sign-up offer after spending $4,000 in the first three months) or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (3x on travel and more; 80,000 point sign-up offer after spending $5,000 in the first three months).
There’s really only one time I’d suggest someone take advantage of this promotion: If you’re trying to book a great Southwest deal before it sells out or have an urgent flight need and:
- are just short of Southwest points
- don’t have Ultimate Rewards points to transfer
- need to minimize your out-of-pocket cost as much as possible
Only then would I say that it’d make sense to buy enough points to complete the redemption. Otherwise, I’d recommend avoiding this promotion and only use Southwest points you earn through flying or spending on a credit card.
Featured image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about Southwest’s “buy miles” promotions, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for the latest offer. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older deals below.
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Earn 2 points $1 on Southwest and Rapid Rewards car and hotel purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. This card also comes with an annual $75 travel credit.
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
- $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees.