By Stephanie Antin

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.

Do Southwest Points expire?

Watch the below video or keep reading…

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About Southwest Points

Southwest plane grand cayman

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:

Check out our post on 101 ways to earn Southwest points!

[101 Ways to Earn Southwest Points to Keep Flying FREE]

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 1 person on any flight with you for FREE for the life of the pass (which can be as long as two years).

Southwest Companion Pass Hawaii

To earn it, you’ll need to collect 135,000 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.

[How to Cancel a Southwest Flight]

But what happens to those points if you don’t use your Southwest points? 

Do Southwest Points Expire?

do southwest points expire

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!

Southwest Airlines Arizona

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? 

Credit Tomás Del Coro from Las Vegas, Nevada Wikimedia Images

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.


In Conclusion

Southwest Airlines release august september flights

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!

My Favorite Travel Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred



If you want to earn EVEN MORE Southwest points, the card_name, my FAVORITE travel credit card, offers bonus_miles after meeting a $4,000 minimum spend in the first three months and a low annual_fees annual fee.

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  • Flexible points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio instantly and are worth DOUBLE if you have a Southwest Companion Pass
  • 3X points on dining 
  • 2X points on travel
  • 10% points bonus annually on spending
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip interruption and cancellation insurance

Please note, this card’s points DO NOT qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass but CAN be used to book FREE flights on Southwest.

See More…


  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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