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Southwest just launched a subscription plan for buying points — here's how it works

April 19, 2021
5 min read
Southwest Boeing 737 on Runway
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Southwest has just introduced a new way of buying Rapid Rewards points: via an installment plan.

As the airline describes it, the idea is that you sign up to purchase a set number of points each month at a discounted price. Then, you'll get a points bonus awarded every three months.

There are three subscription plans for you to choose from. Although you can cancel at any time, the longer you subscribe, the more bonus points you’ll earn. As with other buy points promotions, whether these subscriptions are actually worth it is another question so let's take a closer look.

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Southwest's new points subscription plans

You can find Southwest's new Rapid Rewards points subscription program in the "Buy or Transfer Points" section of the website.

The program operates similarly to Avianca’s “Club LifeMiles” monthly subscription plan. There are three subscription plans, enabling you to earn a total of either 30,000, 40,000 or 80,000 points over 12 months, including quarterly bonuses awarded along the way. So, although you can cancel your subscription at any time, the longer you keep your subscription, the lower your net cost per point.

Here's how the plans break down:

(Photo courtesy of Southwest)

Is it worth it?

The three plans allow you to purchase Rapid Rewards points for 1.79 cents each, 1.93 cents each and 2.06 cents each, respectively. While that's less than the usual 3 cents per point Southwest charges, it's still a lot more than they're worth.

Since Rapid Rewards redemptions are revenue-based, these points have a fairly defined value. TPG's latest valuations peg Southwest points at 1.5 cents apiece, but that's before factoring in Southwest's latest devaluation. In most cases, you'll only get around 1.2 cents in value per point now. It's also worth mentioning that Southwest often has buy-points promotions, which let you buy points at discounted rates. For instance, Southwest recently sold points for as little as 1.62 cents apiece.

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Related: Why I’ll never book Southwest flights with Chase points the same way again

Now, some travelers might be willing to overpay for Southwest points if the purchased points were elite-qualifying or counted toward the Companion Pass. However, as explicitly stated in the terms:

No points purchased or given as a gift hereunder will count toward any Southwest Airlines Companion Pass or Tier Status designation.
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Other ways to earn Southwest points

As you can see, it’s better to look for another source when you’re looking to top off your points balance. One option would be to sign up for a Southwest credit card — or spending on an existing one — like one of the three below:

All three of these cards currently have a welcome offer of 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

If you have a business, you can sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card to score a bonus of 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Or, 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.

Related: Easy ways to earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Alternatively, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest if you have a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.), Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. ) or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months). That said, ever since the latest Rapid Rewards devaluation, you'll likely be better off booking redeeming your points for Southwest awards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal directly, as opposed to transferring your points.

Bottom line

Southwest is now letting you buy points in the form of monthly installment plans. However, at the current rates, they're almost certain to be a poor value proposition. You'd also only be racking up points little by little, so it could take a while to accumulate enough points for an award flight this way. Luckily, there are many other ways to earn Southwest points easily. Alternatively, you might be better off skipping the Rapid Rewards program altogether and booking your Southwest awards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Featured image by ANGEL DIBILIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees