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10 easy ways to earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points

July 16, 2022
13 min read
(GERMANY OUT) A Boeing 737 of Southwest Airlines approaching Lindbergh Field, with high rises of the San Diego skyline in the background.
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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 travel 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 free flights on any Southwest route with zero blackout dates. The airline also offers 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 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

You can earn a bunch of Southwest points through flying. (Photo by Stephen M. Keller/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, Wanna Get Away Plus, 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:

  • Wanna Get Away: 6 points per dollar.
  • Wanna Get Away Plus: 8 points per dollar.
  • Anytime: 10 points per dollar.
  • Business Select: 12 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's Midway International Airport (MDW) to New York City's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) for $100 before taxes with no elite status, you’d earn 600 Rapid Rewards points. It's important to 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 MDW to St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) or one from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Oakland International Airport (OAK) in Califoria, 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:

(Screenshot from southwest.com)

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 $127.80. When you multiply that by six (since it’s a Wanna Get Away fare), you get 766.8, which Southwest generously rounds up to 767 points.

At this time, Southwest does not have any partner airlines. This means that you can only earn Rapid Rewards points by flying when you are on Southwest Airlines-operated flights.

Related: Last chance to earn up to 75,000 points with these Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses

Earn points with a Southwest credit card

Southwest Airlines has several cobranded credit cards you can use to earn Rapid Rewards points. 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. Here are the cards and their current bonuses:

Related: The best Southwest Airlines credit cards

Transfer Southwest points from Chase Ultimate Rewards

Southwest has one credit card transfer partner: Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio, and transfers typically process instantly.

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 toward redemptions like top-tier Hyatt properties or Singapore Airlines business class.

If you want to give your Ultimate Rewards balance a boost for a Southwest transfer, here are some cards that offer nice sign-up bonuses at the moment:

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.

Related: From international business class to domestic hops: 6 of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

Transfer Southwest 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.

Related: The best Marriott credit cards

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 from other loyalty programs. Here are some 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 automatically earn bonus points on your purchase 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 promotions 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 shopping portals by using an aggregator like CashBackMonitor.com. We recommend doing this to ensure you’re always getting the best return on your online purchases.

Related: TPG reader credit card question: Which credit card should I use in shopping portals?

Rapid Rewards Dining

(Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Most airline loyalty programs have dining rewards initiatives, 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 come 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. By enrolling in email notifications, you will earn 3 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants. If you opt out of receiving emails, your earning rate is cut to 1 point per two dollars spent. Additionally, Southwest members earn tiered bonuses:

  • First step: 500 bonus points after earning 1,500 points from dining and completing reviews (one time only).
  • Thank You: 300 bonus points after every 1,000 points accrued from dining and completing reviews (ongoing).

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.

Related: 12 restaurant loyalty programs that are worth joining

Southwest Rapid Rewards hotel booking site

(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Have a hotel stay coming up? Use Southwest’s hotel booking portal to 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. Usually, though, you’ll earn much less.

For example, I conducted a test search for a one-night stay at the Club Quarters Hotel Embarcadero in San Francisco. The room costs $260 for a night in August and awards 260 Rapid Rewards points per night. While this is certainly better than nothing, it’s a small number of miles.

You will, however, earn more points on “Southwest Airlines Points Plus properties” through the portal. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco is one such hotel. This property costs $313 for a one-night stay in August which yields 7,000 Rapid Rewards points. This is worth $105 based on TPG’s valuations — a much better return.

Note: You probably won't earn traditional hotel points on these bookings, nor will you earn credits toward 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. Thus, you’ll need to decide whether you value your hotel points and elite status benefits more than the bonus Rapid Rewards points you could earn.

Southwest also partners with several hotel programs, so travelers can garner Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points.

Related: 6 reasons to avoid booking through an online travel agency

Earn points through rental car bookings

Southwest also 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.

Related: 46 rental car promotions that will save you money this fall

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 of the surveys vary, so this can be a good way to kill time while earning extra points. After you sign up and complete your first survey within three months, you'll earn 500 bonus points. Just keep in mind that points can take up to six weeks to post to your account.

Related: The weirdest things you’ve done to earn miles and points

Buy Southwest points

If you need Southwest points fast and transferring isn’t an option, buying Southwest points might be a worthwhile way to top up for a specific award. The rate — 3 cents per point — is more than twice TPG’s valuation. We don’t recommend buying at this price under most circumstances.

That said, the airline frequently runs promotions that offer better deals. For example, the airline is currently running a promotion where you can buy points with a 35% discount through Aug. 20. This brings the purchase rate down to 1.95 cents per point. That's still above our valuations, but it makes topping off your account for your next flight much less expensive.

Related: You can currently buy points and miles with up to a 145% bonus — but should you?

Bottom line

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are easy to earn. In addition to earning points from flying, you can also earn them by opening and 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 help you stockpile Rapid Rewards points quickly.

Additional reporting by Kyle Olsen.

Featured image by ullstein bild via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases