Southwest Airlines is the world’s largest low-cost carrier, but it does not have any airline partners. This means the points you earn for its Rapid Rewards frequent flyer loyalty program are only redeemable on Southwest flights.
If you want to earn Rapid Rewards points quickly, you can use credit cards; you can take advantage of promotions and offers from Southwest both online and in-flight, you can even get a bump in your earnings by actually taking paid flights!
Southwest flies to a bunch of vacation destinations, including the Caribbean, and Southwest is now taking steps to secure flight routes to the Hawaiian Islands. This means it is an excellent mileage scheme for collecting points as Southwest can fly you to so many sunshine destinations.
We have put together the best strategy to earn lots of Southwest Rapid Reward points fast! We have outlined a huge 20 options below, so you should find something that will work for you!
And for those of you who don’t want to read my entire lengthy article about the ultimate strategy to collect Rapid Rewards points, here is my plan in a nutshell:
- Open a Rapid Rewards account (make sure that you tick to receive email offers)
- Take out a Chase Ultimate Rewards card
- These cards that earn Ultimate Rewards offer amazing sign-up bonuses that can earn you tons of transferable points that can be used to book travel with Southwest
- Watch the points roll in!
For a more detailed strategy, read on.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Program Review
The first step you need to take to earn points is to set up a Rapid Rewards account so that you can both earn points from credit card sign-up bonuses, but also to enable you to earn loyalty points from everyday spending, shopping portals, and so forth. You can then take advantage of all the promo codes, offers, discounts, and specials outlined below.
How To Sign Up To Rapid Rewards
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program is a stand-alone frequent flyer program. Unlike loyalty programs such as American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest, a Rapid Rewards membership does not require an affiliated credit card to start earning points. Yes, you read correctly; although credit cards are a wise move and will boost your rewards like a turbo would boost an engine, you do not need a credit card to open the account. You can open an account and start earning points.
Just sign up on the website, and you will have made a start on your point-collecting mission.
Why Sign Up To Rapid Rewards Emails
Because Southwest offers bonus points through email promotions. To take advantage of these, you need to be signed up for Southwest Rapid Rewards and sign up for emails too.
Earn Rapid Rewards With Credit Cards
Using credit cards is the fastest way to earn Rapid Rewards. It would help if you had a strategy, but this is the credit card that will get you flying fastest. So the third thing to do if you want to boost your balance is to consider signing up for the following credit cards:
Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards; Out Top Choice
This is the first and best credit card suggestion. It is our number 1 credit card choice. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the only bank partner of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. We outline how to take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Reward Program.
The co-branded Southwest credit card is not the best way to earn Rapid Rewards. Earning Ultimate Rewards points and transferring them to Southwest is a much better way to earn Rapid Rewards points.
Chase points are extremely valuable because you can transfer them to many different airline and hotel partners. This is a much better strategy than just collecting Southwest points because you’ll significantly increase your redemption options but can also redeem for Southwest flights as needed.
In a nutshell, you can pay for your flights and your hotel stay by collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards. With the Southwest credit card, you are restricted to redeeming them on flights.
Cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards usually come with quite amazing sign-up bonuses so you can immediately earn a nice batch of transferable points that can be used to book your flights with Southwest… or whatever else you fancy.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
This is a great card. In fact, play your cards right, and you can generate $1,000 USD+ Value From Just 60k Pts.
This card enables you to earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 USD on purchases in the first three months. That’s worth $625 USD toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
You also generate 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, and usefully, the card offers $0 USD foreign transaction fees.
Best of all, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is free in the first year! Then it costs $95 USD in year two.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Your second option is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which enables you to earn a $150 USD bonus after you spend $500 USD on purchases in your first three months. It also offers unlimited 1.5% cashback on every purchase. This card is also free.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Your third option is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. With this card, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 USD on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s a massive $750 USD toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
There is also a $300 USD Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
In addition, you get 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 USD travel credit—3X points on dining at restaurants.
A nice bonus is access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select.
The downside of this card is that there is an annual fee right from the start of $450 USD.
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
If you run your own business or can apply for a card on your business, you may want to consider the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. We Get $1,600 USD+ of Value Using This Card.
There is a great bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 USD on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s $1,000 USD toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
You can also earn 3 points per $1 USD on the first $150,000 USD spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year: Travel, Shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, Advertising purchases with social media sites, and search engines.
There is an annual fee, but this is only $95 USD
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
Your next option is the Southwest Credit Cards .
You cannot get more than one Southwest consumer cards at the same time. You also cannot get a second if you already have one of the cards or have received a new cardmember bonus on either card in the last 24 months. This rule does not apply to the Southwest business card.
This means that this card is best for those who have not had the card before or not had it for a decent period of time (2 years).
If you do decide to take out the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you get 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 USD on purchases in your first three months and an extra 6,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary. This is pretty nice, and with a comparatively small annual fee of $99 USD, this card is appealing.
Chase also offers a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card with 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 USD on purchases in your first three months, an extra 3,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary, and an annual fee of $69 USD.
Finally, the third Chase Southwest option is the Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, which offers up to 65,000 points and 7,500-anniversary points each year with an annual fee of $149 USD.
Unfortunately, you cannot earn bonus Rapid Rewards points for adding authorized users to these cards.
That said, after outlining all three cards, we do not recommend signing up to a Southwest card if your goal is to earn Southwest points. There are much better cards out there that’ll earn Southwest points.
If you’re looking to get the Southwest companion pass, then that’s different and warrants looking at the above cards and their benefits.
Why Choose A Chase Southwest Credit Card
Because of the referral bonuses, Chase regularly allows current cardmembers to refer friends and family and provide referral bonuses when anyone is approved after using your referral.
Not all Chase cards participate in the referral program at all times, but you will often see the personal Chase Southwest credit cards and even some of the cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
BOOM! You are off to Hawaii on points!
Everyday Spending on Credit Cards
This is such an easy way to rack up points. Everyday spending on the Southwest cards can earn you a bunch of extra points per year, but there are no big spending bonuses except the Companion Pass.
Once you have hit the spend for your companion pass, we recommend taking out an alternate card to maximize the miles on.
When it comes to everyday spending, you can earn extra Rapid Rewards points via the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal and the Rapid Rewards Dining Program.
There are no credit card category bonuses (besides 2 points per dollar on flights with Southwest) or big spending bonuses, but you will earn 1 Rapid Rewards point per dollar on all purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards Category Bonuses
Unlike the Southwest card, there ARE plenty of bonus categories on the different Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.
For example, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card 5x bonus on Cell Phones/Landlines, 5x bonus on
Internet/Cable, plus shopping, gas, restaurant bonuses, and more.
You can see a breakdown in more detail in this article which will help you choose which card to go for.
Earn Points With the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
Credit cards aside, there are a lot of other ways to earn miles on everyday purchases. Shopping online through the Rapid Rewards mall and dining out at participating Rapid Rewards Dining restaurants will help you earn lots of additional points.
Shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal is an excellent way of getting some cashback. There are over 1,000 online retailers you can shop from, so the options are extensive.
Do make sure that you sign up or sign in to your Rapid Rewards account before clicking through to your preferred store.
Earn Points With the Southwest Dining Program
Like several other airlines, Southwest participates in the Rewards Network dining platform. The Southwest Dining Program makes it easy for you to earn Rapid Rewards points when you eat out at restaurants all over the United States.
Membership is free; you simply register for an account, add any credit card, and start eating to earn. Usually, you will earn 3 points per dollar at participating restaurants, bars, and clubs. You’ll also earn 10 points for every review you complete after each dining experience.
Check out the “Bonuses” section of the site to find promotions that will earn you even more points. For new members, there are several options for earning bonus points such as:
- First Bite Bonus: Earn 500 bonus points for signing up, dining at a participating restaurant within 30 days, and submitting a review for the restaurant
- First Step Bonus: When you reach 1,500 points, you’ll be given an additional 500 points just because
- Thank You Bonus: After you’ve earned the First Step Bonus, earn another 1000 points, and you’ll be rewarded an additional 300 points
Earn Southwest Points From Flights
Southwest airlines rapid rewards points can be earned from booking flights. Earn 2x points via Southwest Airlines when using your Rapid Rewards credit card. More bonus points are earned based on your fare as well as your elite status.
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card, you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on purchases with Southwest Airlines. This includes all flights, in-flight purchases, and Southwest gift cards purchased through Southwest Airlines.
However, you don’t need one of these cards to start earning on your travel purchases. Your Rapid Rewards membership will start earning you points on any Southwest flight you purchase regardless of the card you use to pay.
You can earn a lot of Rapid Rewards points each time you fly with Southwest because the points you will earn on Southwest flights are much more than many other airlines tend to offer. If you love flying Southwest, then this is terrific news!
Of course, the number of points you earn will depend on the class of your seats.
Southwest uses fun names to define their low-cost, standard, and business class seats: they’re called “Wanna Get Away,” “Anytime,” and “Business Select,” respectively.
Points earned also depend on your status or “tier” as a Rapid Rewards member.
Tiers are reached in a variety of ways, including flying on Southwest flights. Aside from the base or “general member” tier, the achievable tiers are “A-List” and “A-List Preferred.”
If you’re able to reach either of these tiers, you will have the chance to earn more points on each flight than a standard member.
Higher tier bookings get perks like priority boarding and security access, plus bonus points.
A-List gets a 25% bonus Rapid Rewards points.
A-List Preferred gets 100% bonus Rapid Rewards points.
To calculate the points you will earn you must work out your fare class and base earning level:
- Business Select earns you 12 points per dollar
- Anytime earns you 10 points per dollar
- Wanna Get Away earns you 6 points per dollar
- Then multiply by the base fare of your ticket (the price of your ticket minus the taxes and fees)
For example, if your base fare is $250 USD, you could earn between 1,500 points and 6,000 points depending on your tier status and fare class.
Don’t forget to calculate how many points you would earn from using a credit card to purchase flights with Southwest Airlines. Many credit cards earn bonus points on travel purchases!
Book travel with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, which is great for earning 2x points. You can also earn 2x points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and you’ll have the flexibility to transfer points to other travel partners as well!
Car Rentals and Other Public Transportn
Rent a car with certain car rental companies, and you’ll earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per rental. Plus, if you pay with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar spent.
The rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty.
You can also earn 300 Rapid Rewards points for a round-trip booking with ExecuCar (SuperShuttle) to and from the airport.
This is a great option for big cities since taxis can get expensive, and subways or other public transportation can take too long.
HOT TIP: Be sure to check the promotions section of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards website. Many of the partnering car rental companies will offer bonus points so that they can earn even more points per rental.
Book Hotels With Partners
Rapid Rewards has 8 hotel partners where you can earn extra points. You will earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per stay when you book with these Southwest Rapid Rewards hotel partners:
- Best Western
- Carlson Rezidor
- Choice Hotels
- La Quinta
- MLife – MGM Resorts
- For even more points, earn an extra 150 points on your stay when you book your hotel stay through Southwest
Again, check the Rapid Rewards Special Offers page to get the latest offers from these hotels.
Remember not to book luxury hotels via these partners. You do far better booking luxury hotels with our luxury travel concierge because we offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and special VIP benefits.
Rocketmiles is also a partner of Southwest Rapid Rewards. Rocketmiles offers between 1,000 and 10,000 Rapid Rewards points per night when you book a stay through their website.
This is an incredible way to earn tons of points on a hotel stay without being limited to only certain hotels.
Hotel Partner Credit Cards
You can transfer hotel points you earn through co-branded credit cards, but it is a terrible use of points.
Specialty Earnings Opportunities for Southwest Points
Southwest Airlines provides a few ways to earn Rapid Rewards that you might not expect.
Southwest Rapid Rewards has partnered with a few energy companies that will earn you bonus miles for enrolling and remaining with them. These partnering companies offer special bonuses for Southwest Rapid Rewards members:
- Energy Plus: Enroll for at least two months and earn on the supply portion of your bill (only IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OH, or PA)
- Sign-up: 5,000 points (7,500 for Southwest Airlines credit cardholders)
- Earning: 2 points on each $1 USD billed (3 points on each $1 USD billed for Southwest Airlines credit cardholders)
- Everything Energy: Enroll for at least 2 months and earn on the supply portion of your bill (only TX). Sign-up: 5,000 points (7,500 for Southwest Airlines credit cardholders)
- Earning: 2 points for each $1 USD billed (3 points for each $1 USD billed for Southwest Airlines credit cardholders)
- Reliant: Sign up and then continue to earn each month (only TX). Sign-up: 15,000 points. Earning: 500 each month
Be careful of these offers! The bonus points earned may be hefty, but those bonus points may not outweigh the cost of the product or service.
Fill Out Surveys for Rapid Rewards Points
Surveys take time and the points earned aren’t astronomical but can be worthwhile if you are bored on a bus or a train or can be an excellent way to stop points expiring.
Transfer Points From Diners Club
If you’re a Diners Club International member, Southwest and Diners Club have partnered so you can easily convert your Diners Club rewards into Rapid Rewards Points.
The transfer rate is not great at 5:4. This means for every 5 Diners Club Points, you’ll only receive 4 Rapid Rewards points so you’re losing 20% of your points, so this should only be done if you need a few points to complete a booking.
Refer a Friend to the Rapid Rewards Program
Don’t just refer a friend from your credit card, once in a while, Southwest will send emails to targeted Rapid Rewards members. These lucky members have the opportunity to earn 500 bonus points for every friend (up to 4) who joins the Rapid Rewards program.
New members who join from the referral will receive 250 points as a welcome bonus!
Once you have signed up for a Rapid Rewards account, watch your inbox for the invitation to participate!
Buy Southwest Points
Buying Southwest points is poor value, but if you need to top up your points for a trip, it can be worthwhile.
There are only 3 Rapid Rewards credit card options with limited ways to earn points. Still, you can also utilize the Chase Ultimate Rewards program to transfer points to your Rapid Rewards account.
Several cards earn Ultimate Rewards, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom®, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and, of course, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
There are many other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points through the hotel and rental car partners. If you’re a few points short of an award flight, there are plenty of ways to earn those last few points and book your award flight.
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