15 easy ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Sep 23, 2020

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At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

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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In This Post

Earn points by flying Southwest

Houston Hobby // Stephen M. Keller, 2018
You can earn a bunch of Southwest points through flying. (Photo courtesy of 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, 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 Newark (EWR) 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:

(Photo courtesy of 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 $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.

Related: Flying for free: 9 ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

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.

Transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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 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 80,000 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 3 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 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.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

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

(Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

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 a card that earns bonuses on dining purchases 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.

Related: The best Southwest Airlines credit cards for family travelers

Southwest Rapid Rewards hotel booking site

(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Have a hotel stay coming up? 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 usually earn much less.

For example, we 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 them might be worthwhile. Southwest is currently running a buy miles promotion that offers up to 75% bonus points. During this sale, you can buy Southwest points at 1.6 each. While this is more than the TPG’s valuation of Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, buying points at this rate can make sense if you’re topping off your account for an award.

Bottom line

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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