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

Apr 19, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In This Post

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:

Southwest points plans
(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.

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.

Southwest interior
(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 65,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of 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 3 months from account opening.), Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (100,000 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 3 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 photo by Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.