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Stop Southwest points from expiring without paying for a flight

by on Fri April 1, 2016 • 8 Comments


Southwest Rapid Rewards is a well loved frequent flier program, but one thing that rubs us the wrong way is the bold statement on the Rapid Rewards website that says ‘Your points don’t expire.’

In reality, there is some small print that says “your points won’t expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activity every 24 months,” which is a nice way of saying Southwest points expire if you have no activity for 2 years.


Fortunately it’s not hard to keep your account active and points from expiring, and we’ll show you some of the easier ways to do it without flying.

You can easily check the date of last activity on your account by logging in and looking at the account summary on the right hand side of the screen when you login to your Rapid Rewards account at As long as you are within 24 months of the date of last activity that is listed on your account, your points are not in jeopardy of expiring.


If you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card from Chase, your account will stay active as long as you hold the card. But if you don’t have one, and your points are within a couple of months of expiring, it is time to get some activity on your account to extend the expiration of your points, and you should be aware of  two quirks about Southwest’s point expiration guidelines that are more strict that some other mileage programs, and you’ll want to watch out for them:

  • Points need to post to your account before the expiration date. There’s often a lag from when you do something that qualifies you to earn points and when the points post to your account, and Southwest only looks at the date the points actually hit your account, which is the most strict interpretation possible. Some other airline programs let you request credit afterward based on the date of your original activity, rather than the later date it ultimately posts to your account.
  • Donating points to charity, and gifting or transferring points to someone else won’t reset expiration.
  • Booking an award flight won’t reset the clock. Even though you’re using your points, which for most airlines is considered valid activity, Southwest won’t count using your points to book an award flight as activity that resets the expiration of you rpoints.

With that in mind, here are some low effort ways to keep your account active.

Shop through the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

One of the cheapest ways to extend the expiration of your Southwest points is to buy a song at the iTunes Store for $0.99 via the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.

The portal allows you to do online shopping that you were going to do anyway and earn additional points for your purchases when you login with your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.

Most of the major online retailers are available through the Rapid Rewards Portal and you can search to find the store you are looking to shop at and see the bonus points that will be awarded for your purchase. Once you pick a store, you’ll be directed to the same website you’d normally use to shop, and get the exact same prices, and have the ability to take advantage of all the usual sales and promotions you’re used to.

Any points earned through the portal will extend the expiration of your Southwest points by 24 months.

Warning: We mentioned it above, and we’ll mention it again. Points typically will post to your account within four weeks of purchase, but sometimes can take up to eight weeks. The points must post to your account before the expiration date of your points, so this method will only work to extend the expiration of your points if you have at least four to eight weeks until your points are set to expire. Unlike other airlines, Southwest won’t base your credit on the day of your activity, and instead counts them only when the points are credited to your account.


Transfer hotel or credit card points into your account

Southwest partners with many hotel point programs like Marriott Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, Choice Privileges, or Club Carlson, and you can transfer your points from these hotel programs to your Southwest account, which resets the expiration clock another 24 months. The transfer times vary and can sometimes take weeks, so do this if you have about a month or more before your points expire.

If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold card, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points into your Southwest account at an even exchange, and the points generally post instantly.

Buy Rapid Rewards Points

buypointsIf your points are really close to expiring, and you want to reset the clock right now, buying Southwest points will post to your account right away. The minimum purchase is 2,000 points which can be purchased for $55. There is no benefit to purchasing more than the minimum number of points because the points do cost more than you will be able to redeem them for. If you need to keep points from expiring though, this is a decent option. 2,000 Rapid Rewards points are worth around $30, so you are paying a $25 premium in order to keep your points from expiring.

Dine at a Restaurant Partnering with Southwest

If you like to eat out at restaurants, a great way to earn some extra points is to link the credit card you use at restaurants to Southwest Dining. Every time you use the linked credit card at a restaurant that is part of Southwest Dining, you will earn additional Rapid Rewards points which will extend your expiration date. The bonus dining points must post to your account before your points expire in order to extend the expiration.

Book a Hotel Stay or Car Rental

Southwest has a travel portal that allows you to book hotel stays and car rentals. If you book through Southwest, you can earn additional points depending on the hotel or car rental company you choose to book with. When using this method, points must post to your account before your points expire in order to keep them from expiring. This method will only work if you are able to complete the stay or car rental before your mileage expiration date.


The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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8 thoughts on Stop Southwest points from expiring without paying for a flight


      @Tricia – Try it out on – if it lets you then yes. You can refund a points ticket without fees.

  1. Marilyn Kay Sumerford

    I need an up to date account of my points for travel. I need to make plans soon and it is confusing!

  2. goldstatue

    One other way to keep points alive is to transfer point INTO the account. As of now, the minimum amount to transfer in is 2000 points for a $20 fee.

  3. Pam

    I do not see the ability to transfer Hilton HHonors points to Southwest Rapid Rewards — only alternate airlines. If I can indeed transfer to Southwest, would those miles count toward a Companion Pass? Thanks.

  4. Jay

    This is somewhat wrong. Redeeming points for a flight does not reset the expiration date. I know this first hand


      @Jay – Good catch. Yes that would fall under the “nonrevenue travel such as Reward or Companion Pass travel” fine print. Unfortunate that it’s yet another place Rapid Rewards is more restrictive about expiration than other programs


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