If you’ve ever scrambled to save your airline miles before they expire, you know the heartache of seeing those hard-earned rewards drift away. In the interest of standing out among competitors, Southwest Airlines announced today that effective immediately, Rapid Rewards points never expire.
Previously, your points could expire after two years of inactivity on your Rapid Rewards account. To keep your points valid, you either had to book and take a flight, or make a purchase with one of the airline’s partners.
If you’re reading this news like “Huh, I had no idea the points used to expire,” you are far from the only one. Mere days ago I shared a survey about credit card rewards that found about one-third of people had let their points expire, probably because they’re signed up for multiple rewards programs that all have different rules.
Delta, JetBlue, United, and now Southwest skip expiration dates altogether for their rewards. Most other airlines range between 12 and 36 months for their expiration periods, with varying flexibility for retaining your rewards with new account activity.
Companion Pass is getting harder to achieve
If you don’t travel on Southwest often, you might not be too excited by the change. It’s nice to have, but if you weren’t planning to travel on that airline any time soon, were you going to use those points anyway? (Plus, there are other ways to redeem your points if you’re on the verge of losing them.) Points blog One Mile at A Time isn’t exactly impressed by the change, because it doesn’t impact the truly frequent flyers of the airline. There must be a tradeoff, right?
The apparent flipside is that Southwest is increasing its requirements for its coveted Companion Pass status. Previously, you got Pass status for earning 110,000 points in a year, which granted you the pleasure of bringing another traveler with you for free. Starting January 1, 2020, you have to earn 125,000 points in a year to get there.