How to earn 1,000 Southwest points the next time you dine out (or order in)

Oct 30, 2021

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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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In This Post

How to join Rapid Rewards Dining

Eating a salad at a restaurant
(Photo by Yagi Studio/Getty Images)

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.

Related: Make the most of your food delivery orders with these 7 credit cards

Which cards to use with Rapid Rewards Dining

Close up couple with credit card paying bill calculating tip with smart phone in brewery restaurant.
(Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images)

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 Cheesecake Factory and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (enrollment required). While neither of these establishments is part of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program in my area, it’s worth checking yours.

Finally, I’d be remiss to leave out the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, both of which earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on dining.

Related: Finally reunited: How 100,000 Southwest points are taking me home for the holidays

How to earn points with Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining

Take away food
(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

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.

Related: How 100,000 Southwest bonus points got me an all-inclusive trip to Mexico and a Companion Pass

Frequently asked questions

Personal perspective view of couple sharing Tortilla chips while eating takeaway food together at the dining table.
(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

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.

Related: 19 food delivery promo codes and offers to help you save money on your next meal

Bottom line

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 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

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.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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