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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card
As I have often said, one of the most incredible airline frequent flyer perks out there is the Southwest Companion pass,which lets a companion fly free with you for up to two years (depending on when you qualify)- whether you pay for a ticket or use points.
Companion Pass qualifying points differ from elite-qualifying miles on other airlines. That’s because you accrue these points from a variety of activities including flying, but also credit card purchases/sign-up bonuses and partner activity, and will earn the Companion Pass when you hit 110,000 points or fly 100 one way flights within a calendar year. That’s great news for those of you who have already gotten in on the current limited-time 50,000-point sign-up bonus offers on all four Southwest credit cards – but it also means that if you can’t get the credit cards for some reason or if you already have them, there are still plenty of other ways to top up your account for that Companion Pass.
As the summer travel season heats up it is always great to take a travel buddy, and there are many ways to build up your rewards to the coveted level of points. Here are just some of the ways to hit the required level.
1. Get a New Credit Card: The fastest way to reach the the spending limit was by a new Southwest credit card from Chase during the limited-time bonus offer of 50,000 points on each card when you spend $2,000 in 3 months.
There are four cards to choose from so even if you have already got one ore more of the 50,000-point Southwest cards this year, you can still apply for the other cards. There is a $99 fee on the Premier personal and business card and $69 fee on the personal and business Plus cards. The Premier comes with 6,000 points every anniversary ($108 in Wanna Get Away Fares) and the Plus gets 3,000 ($54).
2. Transfer Hotel Points: Although it’s usually not a great value proposition to convert hotel points into airline miles, this is still a decent option if you just need to top up your account and know that you won’t be putting those hotel points to use. Southwest partners with several hotel programs where you can convert your hotel points to Rapid Rewards.
Rapid Rewards Members can redeem 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for 2,400 Rapid Rewards Points. When members redeem 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for 24,000 Rapid Rewards Points, they receive a bonus of 6,000 additional Rapid Rewards Points for a total of 30,000 Rapid Rewards Points. While Ultimate Rewards transfers to Southwest do not count towards Companion Pass Qualification, they do transfer to Hyatt instantly at a 1:1 ratio, so topping up at 50,000 UR points to Hyatt to 30,000 Southwest points (worth ~$540 in Wanna Get Away fares) will count as 30,000 Companion Pass Qualifying points. To get the full 111,600 for the Companion Pass, you’d need to transfer 195,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which would give you ~$3,510 in Wanna Get Away fares, which when you factor in the free Companion Pass you’ll get when you redeem all of those points, you’re looking at ~$7,020 in travel! To maximize the transfer, you might as well do 200,000 Hyatt to 120,000 Rapid Rewards points to get the 6,000 point bonus per 50,000 Hyatt transferred. Top top up your Ultimate Rewards account, the Ink Bold & Plus each currently offer 50,000 points after $5,000 spent within 3 months and the Sapphire Preferred offers 40,000 points after $3,000 spent within 3 months. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year for all three cards.
If you are a member of Club Carlson you can convert your Gold Points into Rapid Rewards Points anytime at a measly 10:1 ratio like this:
- 2,000 Gold Points = 200 Rapid Rewards points
- 50,000 Gold Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards points
- 100,000 Gold Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards points
You can also redeem your Marriott Rewards points for Rapid Rewards Points:
- 10,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 2,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 20,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 70,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 25,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 140,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points
However Marrriott’s Hotel + Air packages make much more sense for larger transfers. Direct transferring to get 100,000 Southwest points would require 280,000 Marriott points. However, if you redeemed for a Hotel & Air package it would only cost 250,000 points, plus you get 7 nights at a category 1-5 hotel! An absolute no brainer and one of the most lucrative Marriott redemptions out there.
3. Car Rentals: Southwest partners with a several rental car agencies, so when you rent a car through the following companies and earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per rental, not including limited-time bonuses that pop up from time to time.
Most companies don’t require a flight to be booked to redeem the points, but the conditions vary so be sure to check the specific details here and be sure either to rent your car through the Southwest partners site.
4. Southwest Dining: Like many other airlines, Southwest has a dining rewards program where Rapid Rewards members can earn points on meals at participating restaurants. Rapid Rewards Dining program from Southwest allows members to earn 3 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants. Their current sign-up bonus is 300 bonus points after spending $25 within the first 60 days at a participating restaurant. They also have a First Step Bonus, where once you have racked up 1,500 rewards from dining and completing your reviews, they will give you an additional 500 points as a reward. For full details, click here.
5. Shopping Portal: Rapid Rewards Shopping is the airline’s online shopping portal where you can earn bonus points on each dollar you spend by clicking through it to shop at a number of great retailers including Nordstrom.com, Homedepot.com and Target.com. You can use the site to find retailers, compare point bonus offers and then click through and then make a purchase at the retailer’s website and the points will be posted to your Rapid Rewards account automatically, no matter which credit card you use. Act fast and get the current online Deal Of The Week at Nordstrom.com and earn 6 points per dollar spent (instead of the usual 3 points).
Some of the other current shopping earning options are:
- Staples.com: 6 points earned per dollar spent
- Drugstore.com: 4 points earned per dollar spent
- Homedepot.com: 2 points earned per dollar spent
- Groupon.com: 2 points earned per dollar spent
- RadioShack: 2 points earned per dollar spent
- BestBuy.com: 1 point earned per dollar spent
So there are plenty of opportunities to rack up tons of bonus points on your everyday purchases, just by shopping online.
6. Staying At Hotel and Banking Points To Southwest: Southwest partners with a number of hotel chains through which you can earn Rapid Rewards either instead of or in addition to hotel points during stays. Chains where you can earn Southwest points instead of hotel points – usually at the rate of 600 points per stay – when you stay at hotel partners including:
- Best Western
- Club Carlson
- Choice Hotels
- La Quinta
7. Energy Plus: We all use electricity, so why not earn some miles based on your utilities bill? Rapid Rewards members who live in Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Texas can earn points from paying their everyday bills if they are Energy Plus customers. New members will receive 5,000 enrollment bonus points after the second month with the electricity supplier, and two 2 per every dollar spent on the supply portion of the bill. If you are a Southwest credit cardholder, you will also automatically receive an additional 2,500 enrollment bonus points (for a total of 7,500 enrollment bonus points), plus an additional 1 point (for a total of 3 points) for every dollar you spend on the supply portion of your bill. For the full set of regulations and details, click here.
Rapid Rewards members in Texas have more ways to earn as well. By switching to the Reliant Secure 24 plan, which fixes the price of your electricity service over a set term, you get 15,000 enrollment bonus points after signup and 500 additional Rapid Rewards points each month for the next 24 months, totaling 27,000 points earned during the course of your 24-month term.
Note: Many people report that these plans jack up their energy rates, but you can always change back if you notice a huge difference that negate the value of the points received.
8. Get a Mortgage with Chase: Southwest not only teams up with Chase for their credit card services, but also with the mortgage department. Granted, a mortgage is a big commitment, but hey, if you’re in the housing market anyway, you might as well score a ton of bonus points along with your new home. Rapid Rewards Members can earns points on their mortgage loans, with the amount increasing depending on the value of the mortgage in the following increments.
- 12,500 points earned for a new Chase mortgage under $250,000
- 25,000 points earned for a new Chase mortgage between $250,000 and $500,000
- 50,000 points earned for a new Chase mortgage over $500,000
Points are credited 6-8 weeks after the closing of the loan. Find more information here. As always, shop around for the best price, though if Chase offers a competitive rate, you might as well rack up the points! Southwest points can be redeemed for Wanna Get Away fares at around 1.8 cents a piece, so I value 50,000 points at ~$900- not chump change.
9. E Rewards and E Miles Opinion Panels: Your opinion does matter, especially when taking part in a survey by e-Rewards or e-Miles. When you enroll in e-Rewards and accrue e-Rewards Currency by participating in market research surveys, you can then redeem them for Rapid Rewards points in increments of $25. You will also receive a bonus of 350 Rapid Rewards points when you complete your first survey within three months of enrolling.
- $50 e-Rewards Currency = 1,000 Rapid Rewards points
- $100 e-Rewards Currency = 2,000 Rapid Rewards points
Similarly, e-Miles can be accrued by spending a few minutes each week reading and reacting to marketing messages. You earn 100 e-Miles miles when you enroll, then an additional 100 e-Miles miles when you enter the verification code from your welcome e-mail and up to 50 e-Miles miles for completing all your profiles. Once you have earned 500 e-Miles miles, you can redeem for 500 Rapid Rewards points.
10. Ride to the Airport With SuperShuttle/Execucar: Getting to the airport as well as flying out of it can now earn you points through SuperShuttle and Execucar, both of which can be cheaper than catching a taxi depending on where you live. Rapid Rewards members will receive 150 points each way (300 points roundtrip) for SuperShuttle’s shared-ride airport shuttle and ExecuCar’s private sedan service. For more information or to book a ride, click here.
11. Regus Office: Office work can pay off in more ways than one now thanks to Southwest’s partnership with Regus, a service that members can use to find business and office spaces in cities all over the US and several other countries. Many have complimentary internet, refreshments, meeting rooms, day offices and video-conferencing, as well as access to professional administrative support. Here’s what you get for joining.
- Earn 7 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on new Regus virtual office agreements, Businessworld Membership sales, and all meeting room or day office bookings.
- Earn 5 Rapid Rewards Points per dollar spent on new Regus full-time office agreement
Rapid Rewards A-List Members, A-List Preferred Members, and Companion Pass Members also receive a free 12 month Preferred membership with 15 visits to over 1500 Regus Business Lounges worldwide plus:
- 10% discount on meeting room, day office and co-work office bookings
- Complimentary refreshments and WiFi
- Special rates on office and virtual office
- On hand administrative support
- Two complimentary business lounge guest passes
- Voucher for a free first meeting room or day office booking at any participating Regus center in the US or Canada
- Two vouchers for 100 free black and white copies, fifty free color copies, and a complimentary LCD projector rental at any participating Regus center in the US or Canada
Earning points while getting your work done – now that’s being productive.