The current economic nature of the airline business is a blessing for flyers and a nightmare for airline employees and shareholders, but this situation won’t last forever. Eventually a few big airline companies will fold, a few budget airline companies will become bloated, and the great prices and frequent flyer plans we see today will slowly disappear. So while the pickings are still lush, let me introduce Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program.
Each one-way flight is worth a point. You receive a free round-trip ticket after 16 points in one calendar year, or eight flights.
Value of a Point:
You can find these Rapid Reward Vouchers on sale on Ebay  for around $300 a piece, which makes the value of each point approximately $18.75. The average major carrier will required 25,000 miles for a domestic flight and if we figure that flight to cost $300 on Southwest, each mile is worth about 1.2 cents, which is approximately what industry experts value a mile at. To convert the points into miles, you’re getting approximately 1,562.5 miles per point.
1 Point = $18.75 = 1,562.5 miles
When you compare prices of flights, that’s where it starts to get a little interesting. The cheapest flight possible on Southwest is a $39 one-way flight (worth 1 point), so you are in essence only paying $20.25 one-way when you factor in the value of a point. However, this isn’t predicated on whether you sell the ticket or not because if you plan correctly, you can use that rapid reward ticket for a flight across the country that will cost way more than $300. Also, when you use the rapid reward ticket, you get the Fully Refundable version of the ticket, not the Fun Saver Non-Refundable Cancel-And-You’re-Hosed ticket.
Additional Ways to Earn Points
There are always ways to earn bonus points, some of them absolutely free. Gone are the days when you would get 4 points per booking via Southwest.com but here are a few good ones:
- Book At Southwest and get 3 Points per Roundtrip (Exp. April 1st)
- Double Credit Cities – Depart out of or arrive in one of a few select Southwest hubs and receive double credit (4 pts) – Currently Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) and Chicago Midway (Exp. March 31st).BWI Double Credit bonus extended to Aug. 3rd!
- Sign Up for A Southwest Visa Card – You get 1 point per $1,200 spent (compared to $12 from a 1% Cash back card, you are earning more from this reward) and 4 points for signing up. The Annual Fee is $59 but the 4 points are worth $75.
- Download DING – Southwest’s newest software that allows them to send deals directly to your desktop. Sign up for the Rapid Rewards newsletter and they might send you an offer of 2 points for signing up!