6 incredible international destinations where you can redeem Southwest points


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Travelers “LUV” Southwest Airlines because of its low fares, free checked bags and generous change policy. It’s a popular airline for domestic travel with more than 100 destinations across the U.S. But did you know that Southwest also flies to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America? Learn more about where Southwest flies, how to earn and redeem points to Southwest international destinations and travel inspiration for your next trip.

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Southwest Airlines

Where does Southwest fly?

Southwest flies to more than 100 destinations across the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. The airline also now flies to Hawaii, which can be a longer flight than many of the Southwest international destinations. 

If you’re looking for travel inspiration, consider these Southwest international destinations for your next flight. Whether you’re using cash or points to book your ticket, you can book any available seat on every flight that Southwest flies. Here are six of our favorites. 

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Located at the southernmost tip of Baja California, Cabo is a popular tourist destination for West Coast travelers. Travelers often choose between the excitement of Cabo San Lucas or the more relaxing option of the old town of San Jose del Cabo. Flights from Southern California airports can be found for as low as 7,885 points one-way.

Nassau, Bahamas

Whether you want to see the swimming pigs of Exuma or enjoy all-inclusive fun at the Atlantis Resort, the Bahamas has something for everyone. This Southwest international destination is just off the Florida coast. Flights are just 70 minutes from Ft Lauderdale and start at 4,067 points.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you don’t have a passport, you can still fly Southwest to a Caribbean destination. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, so passports aren’t required to visit. During your visit, you can explore the historic forts in Old San Juan, canoe in the bioluminescent bay in Fajardo or visit the El Yunque Rainforest. Flights start at 3,735 points from Ft Lauderdale.

Cancun, Mexico

The Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico offers numerous international destinations for Southwest travelers. While Cancun is the most well-known, travelers can also visit Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum or Bacalar once they arrive. This destination is known for having an abundance of all-inclusive and beachside resorts to match a traveler’s budget and travel style. Flights from Nashville start at 6,474 points.

Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos is a collection of more than 40 islands featuring turquoise waters and white sand beaches. While on vacation, you can relax and enjoy the calm ocean breezes or get more adventurous by exploring dry or underwater caves, blue holes, taking an eco-kayak tour or seeing the stingrays at Gibbs Cay. Non-stop flights from Baltimore start at 10,707 points.

Aruba

If you’re worried about hurricanes interrupting your vacation, Aruba is a safer option since it is on the southern edge of the hurricane belt. On the island, travelers can go horseback riding, snorkeling and diving, golfing and exploring museums. You can also visit the Renaissance Aruba’s private island to see the resort’s resident flamingos. The island is also a jumping-off point for travelers wishing to visit South America. Flights from Orlando start at 9,877 points.

How to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Southwest Rapid Rewards members have numerous ways to earn points toward future travel. Here are a few of the most common methods you can use.

  • Cash flights on Southwest. The number of points earned varies based on the fare type and dollar amount of your ticket. You’ll earn the same number of points on domestic flights as you do on Southwest international destinations.
  • Southwest credit cards. Earn points from the card’s welcome bonus, everyday purchases and anniversary bonus.
  • Southwest travel partners. Receive bonus points when booking hotels and rental cars through Southwest.
  • Rapid Rewards Shopping. Get extra points when shopping at participating retailers through the Southwest website.
  • Rapid Rewards Dining. Register your credit cards to earn additional points when dining at participating restaurants.

Which credit cards earn Southwest points?

Southwest offers several airline credit cards with differing levels of earning power, benefits and annual fees to match your budget and travel style.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. The entry-level Southwest Plus Card has an annual fee of $69 and includes 3,000 anniversary points each year and two EarlyBird Check-ins per year.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Intro bonus


Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.





Annual fee $69
Regular APR 21.49%–28.49% variable


Recommends Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Upgrading to the $99 annual fee Southwest Premier Card unlocks 6,000 anniversary points each year and the ability to earn A-List qualifying points on your purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Intro bonus


Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.





Annual fee $99
Regular APR 21.49%–28.49% variable


card swa premier V

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. For the frequent Southwest traveler, the Southwest Priority Card includes a $75 Southwest® annual travel credit each year, 7,500 anniversary points each year and four Upgraded Boardings per year in exchange for a $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Intro bonus


Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.





Annual fee $149
Regular APR 21.49%–28.49% variable


Recommends Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card




The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card easily justifies its higher annual fee with a $75 Southwest® annual travel credit each year, 7,500 anniversary points each year and four Upgraded Boardings per year.



Rewards Rates

  • 3x 3X points on Southwest® purchases
  • 2x 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting, including rideshare, internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming
  • 1x 1X points on all other purchases


Pros

  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • $75 Southwest® annual travel credit each year
  • Earns Companion Pass and A-List qualifying points

Cons

  • Does not include travel protections
  • Limited redemption options for Southwest points
  • High annual fee


  • Additional perks: 25% in-flight discount, Earn 1,500 TQPs for every $5,000 spent each year, 10,000 point discount on earning the Southwest Companion Pass



  • Foreign transaction fee: None



Learn More

In addition to the personal cards, two Southwest business credit cards are also available.

How to redeem Southwest points for free flights

There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when redeeming points for a Southwest flight. Southwest points can be redeemed for any seat on any flight that the airline operates, including when booking Southwest international destinations.

To redeem your points for free flights on Southwest, follow these quick steps:

  1. Log into the Southwest website or mobile app
  2. Enter your flight details — destination, departure city, travel dates and number of passengers
  3. Compare prices based on flight times and ticket type
  4. Toggle prices between cash and points to decide how to book
  5. Switch to monthly “Low Fare Calendar” view to easily find dates with the lowest prices

Searches can begin as an award search by selecting points as the currency, or you can toggle between cash and points when reviewing flight options.

With the Southwest Companion Pass, you can stretch the value of your Rapid Rewards points even further. After earning the pass, your designated companion can fly with you for free an unlimited number of times — whether you’re paying cash, redeeming points or using travel credits to fly.

The takeaway

While many travelers know about the airline’s low-priced flights within the U.S., they often don’t know about Southwest international destinations. Dust off your passport and pack your sunscreen because the airline flies to popular cities in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Whether you’re using cash or points to book your trip, you’ll still enjoy the airline’s two free checked bags, generous change policies and other benefits. Use your Southwest credit card to earn additional points on your flight and save money on inflight purchases.


Fortune Recommends™ has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Fortune Recommends™ and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. 

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying. 



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