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There are several Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards changes you should be aware of. The good news is that your Rapid Rewards points no longer expire. However, it’s now harder to earn the Southwest Companion Pass® plus fees and taxes must be paid for same-day standby flights.

One of the Southwest Rapid Rewards changes is that your points no longer expire.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Changes

The Southwest Companion Pass® changes go into effect on January 1, 2020. Southwest begins passing on the same-day standby government fees and taxes starting January 1, 2021.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the various Rapid Rewards changes.

Rapid Rewards Points Don’t Expire

Your Southwest Rapid Rewards points no longer expire starting October 17, 2019. This used to be standard policy for the major airlines. Now, Southwest Rapid Rewards and Delta SkyMiles are two of the very few programs with a no expiration policy (unless you own a co-brand airline credit card of course).

Southwest Companion Pass®

Starting January 1, 2020, you will either need to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points or fly 100 one-way qualifying flights within a calendar year to get the standard Southwest Companion Pass®.

To earn the pass in 2021, you need to earn 125,000 points or fly 100 one-way flights. Once you earn the pass, it’s good for the rest of the current calendar year and all of next year. Earning the standard Southwest Companion Pass® in 2021 means it expires on December 31, 2022. 

Southwest Airlines Credit Card Purchases Qualify

Every Rapid Rewards point you earn from the best Southwest credit cards (and the credit card signup bonuses if you qualify) count toward the annual point requirement.

Any points your transfer from a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card or another travel loyalty program don’t qualify.

If you want to maximize your Rapid Reward point-earning potential, consider applying for one of these two Southwest Airlines credit cards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most benefit-rich personal credit card.

Cardholders earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases. Non-bonus purchases earn 1x point per $1 spent.

New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

You also get 7,500-anniversary points each card renewal, an annual $75 Southwest travel credit, and 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available).

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

One of the best small business credit cards for airline miles is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. Get 3x points on Southwest purchases, 2x points for online advertising and Internet, cable and phone services, and 1x point for everything else.

You also get 9,000 bonus points each card anniversary, 365 annual inflight WiFi credits, and 4 Upgraded Bookings each year (when available). If you need, your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee is reimbursed.

New Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. 

Same-Day Standby Fees and Taxes

On January 1, 2021, you will start paying government fees and taxes for same-day fees and taxes. There won’t be any Southwest Airline-imposed charges when this change goes into effect. 

Despite this additional cost, flying standby is still cheaper with Southwest than other airlines. For instance, you may pay up to $75 for standby status with other legacy airlines.

What Remains the Same

The following Rapid Rewards perks are not changing:

  • First 2 checked bags fly free
  • One free carry-on and personal item
  • No blackout dates when redeeming Rapid Rewards for award flights
  • No change fees or cancellation fees
  • Free in-flight entertainment

Summary

All of these Rapid Rewards changes aren’t exactly going to be welcomed with open arms. However, Southwest Airlines is still a low-cost leader if you live near a hub. The good news is that your Rapid Rewards points no longer expire. For the other changes, you have to time to prepare and adjust your travel patterns as needed.

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