© 2020, The Korean Society of Mechanical Engineers and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.The air side thermal performance of wavy fins with rectangular winglets are studied using experimental and numerical methods. The following parameters are selected for investigation: the attack angle, placed location, span and length of the rectangular winglet. The results show that all parameters affect the thermal performance of the air side. The best configurations of the winglet that provide the maximum j/f(1/3) for both winglet lengths are the 3.5 mm horizontal distance, 7 mm vertical distance, 60° attack angle and 1.25 mm winglet span. Moreover, the thermal performance comparisons between the optimal design of the wavy fin with winglet and normal wavy fin are reported. Wavy fins with winglets provide a larger heat transfer coefficient, pressure drop and j/f(1/3) than those of normal wavy fins. For the j/f(1/3) comparison, wavy fins with winglets provide a j/f(1/3) greater than that of normal wavy fins by 5.4–14.6 %, with the Reynolds number ranging from 1650 to 4423.