Should I buy Southwest points with a 50 percent bonus?

Buying Southwest points with a 50% bonus seems like a great deal, but it might not be.
Buying Southwest points with a 50% bonus seems like a great deal, but it might not be.

Southwest Airlines is currently running a promotion allowing Rapid Rewards members to buy Southwest points with a 50 percent bonus. But — don’t do it!

In general, I don’t think buying points or miles is ever a good idea other than these two conditions:

  1. You need to top off your account for a specific redemptions
  2. There is a specific redemption, you’ve done the math, and it’s cheaper to purchase the points for the redemptions than pay for the flight with cash.

Other than that, you’re typically not going to get a good deal buying points from airlines. After all, airlines want to make money not give its customers a reason to not spend money.

The Details of the Southwest Promo

  • The offer ends on May 16, 2019, at 11:59 pm CST.
  • Points must be bought in a single transaction to qualify for the bonus
  • A maximum of 60,000 points may be purchased
  • Points must be purchased in increments of 1,000

Next, for what your bonus is actually going to be. Not everyone gets the 50 percent bonus. Below are the earning structures based on the number of points purchased:

  • 5,000-9,000: 30 percent bonus
  • 10,000-14,000: 40 percent bonus
  • 15,000 or more: 50 percent bonus

The Math

Now, here’s why this doesn’t make sense to buy Southwest points with a 50 percent bonus. Remember, as we covered in our Beginner’s Guide section about redeeming points, Southwest Airlines has more or less of a fixed value. Wanna Get Away fares, Southwest’s cheapest option, is usually at around 1.5 cents per point.

PointsCostBonus %Bonus PointsTotal PointsPrice per Mile  

As you can see, even if you were to buy between 15,000 and 60,000 points, your price per points would come in at just over 1.8 cents.

If the value of a fixed point is around 1.5 cents, paying 1.8 cents is not a good deal at all.

Final Thoughts

I couldn’t pass up this example to illustrate why it’s not always a great idea to buy points from airlines — especially one with a fixed value for redemptions. For airlines that have award charts, do the math, it can sometimes make sense to buy points – but it’s rare.

Buying points is only smart when you need to top off your account for a specific redemption or the match makes sense that it’s easier to buy points than but the flight.

Another option to top off points in your Southwest Rapid Rewards account would be to transfer points from Chase assuming you have an Ultimate Rewards earning card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred). Southwest is a transfer partner and points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards is especially easy thanks to the Chase Trifecta which maximizes bonus categories.

Even with what seems like attractive bonuses, buying points aren’t cheap. The airlines don’t want to make it easier for consumers to save money.

Unless there’s something specific you have in mind, don’t buy Southwest points with a 50% bonus – because you’re not getting a good deal.

Remember to sign up for the Everyday Points and Miles Weekly Roundup! Receive just one email to your inbox each week with information about earning points and miles for free travel.

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