10 easy ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points
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Southwest Airlines is a favorite amongst many domestic U.S. flyers. The airline offers free checked bags, operates a ton of obscure routes and makes the travel process easier for families with complimentary priority boarding. Of course, the airline has its own points program too: Rapid Rewards. You can use these points to redeem for free flights on any Southwest route with zero blackout dates. It also has the Companion Pass, one of the most lucrative perks in the frequent flyer world.
But how do you earn Rapid Rewards points? Well, that’s what we’re going to answer in this article. We’ll dive deep into the program and show you all of the different ways you can earn Southwest points by flying, using cobranded credit cards and leveraging your everyday purchases.
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Earn points by flying Southwest
As you’d expect, you can earn Rapid Rewards points by flying on Southwest Airlines. The amount of points you earn per flight depends on three things: how much you paid for your ticket, the fare class you booked (Wanna Get Away, Anytime or Business Select) and your elite status.
Thankfully, determining how many points you’ll earn for each flight is easy. Here’s how much each Southwest Airlines booking class earns before tax:
- Business Select – 12 points per dollar
- Anytime – 10 points per dollar
- Wanna Get Away – 6 points per dollar
Additionally, Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred elite members earn additional points on their flights:
- A-List — 25% additional Rapid Rewards points
- A-List Preferred — 100% additional Rapid Rewards points
So if you book a one-way Wanna Get Away flight from Chicago-Midway (MDW) to New York-LaGuardia (LGA) for $100 before taxes with no elite status, you’d earn 600 Rapid Rewards points. Note that distance is not a factor when earning Rapid Rewards points.
In other words, if you paid that same amount for a flight from Chicago-Midway to St. Louis (STL) or one from Baltimore (BWI) to Oakland (OAK), you’d earn the same 600 points.
Southwest also makes it very clear how many points you’ll earn for each leg of your trip during the booking process. From the search results page, hover over the flight you’re considering and it will display the number of points you’d earn:
If you’re noticing that the math doesn’t add up based on the numbers above, you’re right. The base fare of this ticket is actually $185.75. When you multiply that by six (since it’s a Wanna Get Away fare), you get 1,114.5, which Southwest generously rounds up to 1,115 points.
At this time, Southwest does not have any partner airlines. This means that you can only earn Rapid Rewards points by flying on Southwest Airlines-operated flights.
Earn with a Southwest credit card
Southwest Airlines has several cobranded credit cards you can earn Rapid Rewards points with. The great thing about these cards is that the welcome bonuses, in addition to credit card spending, will count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
Just keep in mind that these cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you likely won’t be approved if you’ve had five or more credit applications (across any bank) in the last 24 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card – Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening.
Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards
Whether you should execute these transfers, however, is a different story. TPG currently values Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents per point, while Ultimate Rewards points are 2 cents apiece. As a result, if you transfer points to Southwest, you may sacrifice some value that could be put towards redemptions like top-tier Hyatt properties or Singapore Airlines first class.
If you want to give your Ultimate Rewards balance a boost for a Southwest transfer, here are some cards that offer big sign-up bonuses at the moment:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Quick note: Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can redeem their Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal to book flights. Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred cardholders can redeem at 1.25 cents each. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines itineraries are not bookable in this way, since the portal is powered by Expedia and Southwest doesn’t sell its tickets through OTAs.
Transfer points from Marriott
You can also transfer hotel points from a variety of programs to Southwest Rapid Rewards. Most of these offer a relatively poor value proposition, but there is one exception to this rule: Marriott Bonvoy.
Marriott points transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a ratio of 3:1. Plus, you’ll get a 5,000-point bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points at a time. As a result, 60,000 Marriott points will get you 25,000 Southwest points, lowering the effective transfer ratio to 2.4:1.
Earn Southwest points with partners
Beyond flying and using credit cards, you can earn Rapid Rewards points through many of your everyday purchases by filling out surveys and even through transferring points in from other loyalty programs. Here’s a run-down of additional ways to earn bonus Rapid Rewards points through Southwest’s assorted partners.
Rapid Rewards shopping portal
Southwest’s online shopping portal is a great way to earn points on online purchases. Just like Rapid Rewards dining, the points earned through Rapid Rewards Shopping are separate from the points earned with your credit card.
Just sign up for a Rapid Rewards Shopping account, find a participating merchant, and click through the link before purchasing. You’ll earn bonus points on your purchase automatically just by starting at the portal instead of going to the merchant’s website directly.
Each merchant awards a different number of points per dollar spent, and these rates frequently fluctuate, so check Rapid Rewards Shopping often. You may also come across promos and other deals that may give you extra points, especially around the holidays.
However, bear in mind that Southwest isn’t the only airline with a shopping portal. You can easily compare earning rates with other airline, hotel, credit card and cash-back portals by using a shopping portal aggregator like CashBackMonitor.com. We recommend doing this to ensure you’re always getting the best return on your online purchases.
Rapid Rewards Dining
Most airline loyalty programs have their own dining rewards program, and Southwest Rapid Rewards is no exception. Through Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining, you can earn extra miles at participating restaurants. To do this, all you have to do is sign up for an account and link your favorite credit card(s) that you use for restaurant purchases.
Whenever you swipe one of those cards at a participating restaurant, you’ll earn extra Rapid Rewards points. These are in addition to the miles you earn with your credit card, so make sure to use one of the best credit cards for dining for the best return on your purchases.
If you do utilize the Rapid Rewards Dining program, you’ll definitely want to sign up for email notifications. This will give you “online member” status and you will earn 3x points per $1 spent at participating restaurants. If you opt-out of receiving emails, your earning rate is cut to 1 point per $2 spent. Additionally, Southwest members earn tiered bonuses:
- One-time: 500 bonus points after earning 1,500 points from dining and completing reviews.
- Recurring: 300 bonus points after every 1,000 points accrued from dining and completing reviews.
While privacy is important, agreeing to receive a few emails a week is a small price to pay for substantial bonus points, especially if you order takeout quite a bit or charge reimbursable dining expenses to your credit card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards hotel booking site
Have a hotel stay coming up? Use Southwest’s hotel booking portal and you can earn extra points on each stay. The amount of points varies by the price of your stay, so generally, the more expensive a room is, the more points you’ll earn. Southwest states that rooms can earn up to a whopping 10,000 points per night. But, you’ll usually earn much less.
For example, I did a test search for a one-night stay at the Grand Hotel Inglés in Madrid. The room costs $412 for a night in February and awards 374 Rapid Rewards points per night. So while this is certainly better than nothing, it’s a small number of miles.
You will, however, earn more points on “Southwest Airlines preferred hotels” through the portal. The Residence Inn by Marriott New York Manhattan/Times Square is one such hotel and costs $386 for a one-night stay in February. This stay yields 8,000 Rapid Rewards points, a haul that’s worth $120 based on TPG’s valuations — a much better return.
Do note that you’ll likely not earn traditional hotel points on these bookings, nor will you earn credits towards elite status qualification. Even if you already have elite status with the hotel in question, you may not enjoy the standard on-property perks since you booked through a third-party website. You’ll thus need to decide whether you value your hotel points and elite status benefits higher than the bonus Rapid Rewards points you could earn.
Southwest also partners with several hotel programs, allowing you to earn Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points.
Earn points through rental car bookings
Southwest partners with all the major rental car companies, allowing you to earn Rapid Rewards points. You can typically earn 600 Rapid Rewards points by booking your rental car through Southwest or requesting points at check-in. Some partners even allow you to request points on past bookings.
Earn points by taking surveys
Finally, you can earn Rapid Rewards points by filling out quick surveys through Rewards for Opinions and E-Rewards. Each survey earns a different amount of points and the length varies, so this can be a good way to kill time while earning extra points. Just keep in mind that points can take up to six weeks to post to your account.
Buy Southwest points
If you need Southwest points fast and transferring isn’t an option, buying Southwest points might be worthwhile if you need to top up for a specific award. Points cost 3.0 cents per point, which is over twice TPG’s valuation. We don’t recommend buying at this price under most circumstances.
That said, the airline frequently runs promotions that offer a better deal. For example, the airline is offering a 70% bonus when you buy 5,000 or more points. This drops the price to 1.61 cents per point, which is much more reasonable. This can make sense if you need a quick mileage boost in order to redeem points for a specific ticket.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are easy to earn. You can do so by flying, opening and then allocating your everyday spending to the proper credit cards or by shopping and dining with select merchants. Using a combination of all of these methods may get you a stockpile of Rapid Rewards points relatively quickly. You’ll be well-prepared once the pandemic ends and travel resumes back to normal.
Featured photo courtesy of Dünzl/ullstein bild via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month, 2 points on all other Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. This card also comes with an annual $75 travel credit.
- Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. Earn between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month.
- 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
- $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on all other Southwest® purchases.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.