How to earn 1,000 Southwest points the next time you dine out (or order in)
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When you go out to eat or order takeout, you can earn a nice stash of rewards. Sure, you can earn rewards when you pay for your meal using top dining credit cards. But, you can also earn rewards through dining rewards programs, including Southwest points through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program.
This program is hands down one of the easiest ways to earn Southwest points. While every major airline offers a dining rewards program, Southwest’s happens to be one of the best. That’s mainly because it makes earning enough points for an award ticket so easy.
Short-haul flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles, for example, start at just 1,899 points each way – and $533 worth of dining rewards spending could get you enough points for one of these short-haul flights.
Here’s what you need to know to start working toward your next reward flight with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program.
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How to join Rapid Rewards Dining
Joining Rapid Rewards Dining is quick and easy. Simply sign up by providing your name, address, Rapid Rewards number, email and creating a password. After confirming your account, you can log in and register your rewards credit cards. The next time you dine at a participating restaurant, bar or club using that card, you’ll earn bonus points through the program.
Why you shouldn’t link more than one card
While you can register multiple cards with Rapid Rewards Dining, you typically shouldn’t. Instead, you’ll want to enroll only one of your credit cards with each dining rewards program.
Why join multiple programs? Because most programs offer a first-dine bonus, allowing you to earn the maximum return on your restaurant spending. However, most dining rewards programs are part of the same network, so you can’t register the same card with multiple programs.
For example, let’s say you register your Chase Sapphire Reserve with Rapid Rewards Dining and then decide to add it to your Alaska Mileage Plan Dining profile. The card will automatically be removed from your Rapid Rewards Dining account, so you’ll no longer earn points through Rapid Rewards Dining.
Because of that, be sure to link your highest-earning card to your favorite program to maximize your earnings.
Which cards to use with Rapid Rewards Dining
Since the restaurant itself is processing your charges, you should use a credit card that earns bonus points on dining. My personal favorite is the Citi Prestige® Card, which earns 5x points at restaurants. Citi ThankYou points are incredibly valuable, so I try to maximize my card’s category bonuses when I can. However, the Citi Prestige Card isn’t currently accepting applications from new cardholders.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Other great cards for restaurant spending include the American Express® Gold Card, which earns 4x Membership Rewards on dining at restaurants. It also offers up to $10 in monthly credits valid at select restaurants (up to $120 in statement credits annually), including Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. While neither of these establishments is part of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program in my area, it’s worth checking yours.
How to earn points with Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining
With Rapid Rewards Dining, you will earn points every time you dine at a participating restaurant, bar or club. All you have to do is use the credit card you registered to pay your bill. You’ll get an email confirmation within minutes, letting you know your purchase qualified for bonus points through Rapid Rewards Dining. Here’s a breakdown of how many points you can earn at participating restaurants, bars and clubs through Rapid Rewards Dining:
- If you opt in to receive email notifications: 3 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent.
- If you opt out of email notifications: 1 point per $2 spent.
In addition to points earned for every dollar spent, Rapid Rewards Dining members can earn these bonuses:
- New member bonus: Earn 1,000 bonus points when you spend $25 at a participating restaurant and complete a review within the first 30 days of joining.
- First-step bonus: Earn 500 bonus points after you earn 1,500 points from dining and completing reviews.
- Thank You Bonus: Earn 300 bonus points each time you earn 1,000 points from dining and completing reviews.
- Review bonus: Earn 10 bonus points each time you complete a dining review within 30 days of a visit.
Frequently asked questions
Do points earned through Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining count towards the Companion Pass?
Some points earned through the Rapid Rewards Dining program count towards the Companion Pass. In particular, base points earned from dining count, but bonus points don’t count. Even so, if you’re dining out a lot these days, Rapid Rewards Dining can help you get even closer to the Companion Pass.
How do I know which restaurants, bars and clubs participate?
To see which restaurants, bars and clubs participate in Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining, enter your zip code or city and state into the search bar on the Rapid Rewards Dining website. You can even click the “Show map” button after searching to see a map of participating merchants.
Can you earn points on takeout?
You can earn points on takeout with Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining. Just provide your card number over the phone or pay in the store and you’ll earn points as if you’re dining in. However, if you use a third-party booking platform or food delivery app, you won’t earn points through Rapid Rewards Dining.
Is there a limit on the number of points I can earn with Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining?
Some restaurants impose a monthly limit on the number of points you can earn with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program. Others restrict the days of the week when you can earn points. Be sure to check the individual restaurant page ahead of time if earning rewards factors into your restaurant-picking decision.
Is Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Dining program worth it?
Joining the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program is absolutely worth it. If you opt in to receive email notifications, you’ll essentially earn a 4.5% return on your restaurant spending. I’m basing that on TPG’s valuation of Southwest points at 1.5 cents each.
Since joining is free and you don’t have to do anything beyond registering your credit card, it’s absolutely worth doing. I signed up for various dining rewards programs eight years ago. To this day, I’ll occasionally get an unexpected email notifying me I earned points dining out. It’s a great way to earn points on autopilot.
Joining a dining rewards program is a great way to maximize a big spending category without much effort. Thanks to Southwest’s low fares and the various bonuses offered to new members, earning free flights is easier than with other airlines. Enroll now and start working toward your next award flight.
If you’re looking for other ways to earn more Southwest points, consider signing up for a new Southwest credit card. Currently, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card ($69 annual fee), Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card ($99 annual fee) and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card ($149 annual fee) all offer the following bonus:
- Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Of course, make sure you are under Chase’s 5/24 rule and meet other application requirements before applying. But, if you are eligible to earn one of these bonuses, you could seriously boost your Southwest Rapid Rewards balance and make significant progress toward earning a Companion Pass through the end of 2023.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.
Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images.
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