Transferring Points Between AirTran and Southwest

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This is post #8 in a series discussing the Southwest Rapid Rewards program:

This series contains:

  1. Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
  2. Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
  3. Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
  4. Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
  5. Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
  6. Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights
  7. Transferring Points to Southwest
  8. Transferring Points/Credits between AirTran and Southwest
  9. Extending the Life of Free Flights from Rapid Reward 1.0 Program
  10. Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
  11. Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
  12. Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
  13. Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price

UPDATE: This is no longer since the merger in November 2014. 

As most of you are probably aware, Southwest Airlines is in the process of acquiring AirTran Airlines. While this full acquisition will probably take a few years, they are allowing members to transfer their points freely between the two programs: A+ Rewards (AirTran) and Rapid Rewards (Southwest). This works great if you have points in one program, but want to redeem for a free flight in the other.

Since Southwest changed their rewards system slightly over a year ago,  it is slightly complicated to see how they transfer, but I’ll explain it all for you.

Transferring Southwest to AirTran (3 options):

  • Points: 1,200 Rapid Reward points = 1 A+ Reward credit (*you need 8 A+ Reward credits for a free one way ticket, 16 A+ Reward credits for a round trip)
  • Credits: 1 Rapid Reward credit = 1 A+ Reward credit (*the Southwest Rapid Reward credits were from the old Southwest program)
  • Standard Award: 1 Standard award = 16 A+ Reward credits (*Southwest standard rewards have both an A and a B which are each good for a free one way ticket, you are able to transfer just one one-way for 8 A+Reward credits)

Transferring AirTran to Southwest (1 option):

  • Credits: 1 A+ Reward credit = 1 Rapid Reward credit

Quick things to know:

  • It requires 8 A+ Reward credits to redeem for a free one-way ticket on AirTran (keep in mind though that these free redemption tickets are capacity controlled) – if you are looking to transfer Southwest points this will require 9,600 points (which is equivalent to $137 if redeemed on a “Wanna Getaway” fare – keep this price point in mind when determining if you should transfer or not)
  • It requires 16 Rapid Reward credits to convert to a Southwest Standard Award which can be redeemed for 2 one-way tickets on Southwest (again, these types of award are capacity controlled)
  • You can transfer 19,200 Southwest points to AirTran for 16 A+Reward and then transfer for credits back to Southwest which will convert to a Standard award (good for 2 one-way tickets and expires within 1 year of conversion) – this is a great loophole if you are looking to redeem your Southwest points for Southwest travel and each way costs more than $137. The one caveat is that free Rapid Reward seats are capacity controlled, so make sure to check on availability prior to going this route (you’ll have to call Southwest to check on availability – 1-800-I-FLY-SWA)
  • If you have a companion pass on either airline that will NOT transfer to the other

When do my credits expire?

  • Once you reach 16 Southwest Rapid Reward credits, they will automatically transfer to a standard award with a one year expiration date
  • Credits transferred from AirTran to Southwest (or vice versa) will keep the original expiration date from the original program
  • The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will be one year from the date of creation
  • Standard award tickets transferred from Southwest to AirTran A+ Reward credits will have an expiration date as the original award from Southwest

Definitely keep these options in mind on the back burner when you are looking to travel these two airlines, just remember the award seat capacity control limitation. I looked into doing this today for Mr. Deals (Southwest points to AirTran) for tickets that were around $200 each way and only the really inexpensive (around $150ish) tickets were available for award redemption. Unfortunately the inexpensive flights required a layover in Atlanta on a flight from NY to Denver and brought the total flight time from 4 hours to 8 hours – and if you know Mr. Deals he was definitely not going for that!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Current Southwest Credit Card Offer: There are three different Southwest credit cards in total, two personal and two business versions. The main differences is that the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer . You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog post. 

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. 19,200 WN points are worth about $318 in airfare, so if you want a ticket worth more than that you should transfer those points to AirTran for 18 credits, then transfer those back to WN for a standard RT award anyplace WN flies, good for 1 year.

    • @Tassajuniour – That is correct. Just keep in mind though that many times the expensive fares are not available for free standard award tickets. I included the expiration dates for each transfer type in the post as well.

    • @Jay – No, unfortunately when transferring from AirTran to Southwest, you can only transfer credits to credits, not credits to points.

  2. Thanks for the great post! Question though: some SW flights only have “Freedom” (as opposed to “Standard”) award availability. What is the difference between Freedom and Standard awards? Can Rapid Rewards points be transferred to credits that can be redeemed for Freedom awards? If so, how does the difference between the two types of award credits affect the number of Rapid Rewards points that need to be converted? Any other implications?

    • @B-Rad – Freedom awards = 2 Standard Awards. So freedom awards are available on all flights but require double the amount of awards/credits. A freedom award will require 16 credits 1 one or 32 credits roundtrip. If you want to convert points into a freedom award, you must transfer 38,400 points to AirTran A+Rewards. This will convert as 32 A+ Reward credits. When you convert these 32 credits back to Southwest you will get 32 credits which will automatically convert into 2 Standard Awards. You will then need to combine the two Standard Awards for the 1 Freedom Award. This is ONLY a good idea if each one-way trip costs more than $320.

      Great question! Please let me know if that answered it fully.

  3. I know this is a little off subject but I am looking for a way to transfer Southwest rapid reward points over to United reward points or vice versa. I’m working on a trip to Europe through United and could use some help, Thanks!

  4. Is there a way to search standard award availability on Southwest before doing the transfer? I can’t seem to find it.

    • @Katleg – You need to have a non-expired standard award in your account to search for availability. If not, you’ll have to call Southwest. If your award is expired but still has the ability to be extended for the $50 fee, it will not show.

  5. Good luck transferring rewards from Airtran to Southwest. It would be much easier if they just made one Airtran credit worth 1200 points. They have all kinds of flights using Southwest points but very few Southwest flights for “standard awards”. It would be much more straight forward to just use the Southwest point system.

  6. I can find the instructions on SW to do this and a link to Convert Now, but it doesn’t take me to anything to do it. The graphics on the instructions don’t show up on the real site anymore. Any idea how to transfer to Airtran now?

  7. It was confirmed by myself and others that the transfer tool was down last night. My luck when I go to look for it. So it is back up today and those in the know say the T & Cs don’t seem to have changed.

    I did transfer 19,200 pts to Airtran and then 16 credits back to SW and they did not automagically transform into a standard award. Not sure what now.

  8. Just noticed that although I transferred credits back to my account, my account point balance did not increase. So maybe they are baking up my standard award.

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