One of the biggest challenges in the points and miles game is keeping track of when points expire and one of the programs we’re most concerned with, Southwest Airlines, many wonder… do Southwest points expire?
It’s a major disappointment if you’ve collected lots of points only to find they’ve disappeared!
Unfortunately, several airline loyalty programs work this way, but what about Southwest?
We’ll fill you in on how Southwest points work.
About Southwest Points
Southwest Airlines’ loyalty program is called Rapid Rewards, and you earn “points” instead of “miles,” which you can redeem for free flights.
Southwest points can be earned by flying, of course, but in lots of other ways, too!
No need to be a frequent flyer to earn Southwest points!
These ways include:
- Shopping through the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
- Booking hotels at SouthwestHotels.com
- Simply dining out when you link your credit cards to the Rapid Rewards Dining program
- Earning referral points on credit cards; here’s how to find your Chase Refer a Friend links
Check out our post on 101 ways to earn Southwest points!
The EASIEST and FASTEST way to earn Southwest points is to sign up for a Southwest credit card where you can sometimes earn as many as 80,000 points for meeting a minimum spend of $5,000 or less.
Here are your Southwest credit card options.
Southwest also offers the Southwest Companion Pass, one of the best values around, since you can bring a 1 person on any flight with you for FREE for the life of the pass (which can be as long as two years).
To earn it, you’ll need to collect 125,000 points in a single calendar year.
We also love how when you book flights on Southwest using your points, you can cancel or change the flight and get a full refund of your points credited immediately back to your account.
But what happens to those points if you don’t use your Southwest points?
Do Southwest Points Expire?
Now, let’s get to the question at hand…
Southwest points USED to expire after 24 months of inactivity UNLESS you held a Southwest credit card.
That kept your Southwest points active even if there was no activity in your account.
The airline has since changed their policy, so that Southwest points NEVER expire no matter what.
We love this change, and it’s one of the many reasons we love to fly Southwest!
The only way you can lose your Southwest points is to USE them OR close your Rapid Rewards account entirely. That’s good news!
Keep in mind that Southwest Companion Pass-qualifying points “expire” at the end of each calendar year on December 31.
You can still use them to book free flights, but you start with 0 qualifying Southwest Companion Pass points at the beginning of each calendar year on January 1.
Do Other Airline Points Expire?
Airlines seem to be trending toward no expiration date, thank goodness, and only a handful have left their policies in place that allow their points or miles to expire.
Many will allow your points or miles to expire if there is no “activity” in your account after a period of time.
“Activity” usually means redeeming or earning at least 1 mile or point over that time period.
Here is a list of the major US airlines and their policies:
- Alaska miles expire if there is no activity in your account after two years.
- American miles expire if there is no activity after 18 months.
- Delta miles don’t expire.
- United miles don’t expire.
- JetBlue miles don’t expire.
- Spirit miles expire after 3 months of inactivity unless you hold their Spirit World Mastercard.
Now there’s another GREAT reason to fly Southwest Airlines: their points NEVER expire! Hooray!
So let go of the worry that you’re going to lose all the points you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Collect them for a long time and use them to take a bunch of people on an amazing trip OR use them bit by bit as you take smaller trips and bring a Companion along, spending fewer points.
Feel free to use them however and whenever is best for you!