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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 a great 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 simply 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. You need a strategy, but this it is the credit cards that will get you flying fastest. So the third thing to do if you want to boost your balance is to consider signing up to 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 and the best way to apply here.

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 greatly 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+ Value From Just 60k Pts.

This card enables you to earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s worth $625 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 foreign transaction fees.

Best of all the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is absolutely FREE in the first year! Then it costs $95 in year two.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Your second option is the hase Freedom Unlimited® which enables you to earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months. It also offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.Tthis card is also free.

Your third option is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. With this card you can Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s a massive $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

There is also a $300 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 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants.

A nice bonus is an 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.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

If you run your own business or are able to apply for a card on your business, you may want to consider the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. We Get $1,600+ of Value Using This Card.

There is a fabulous bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s $1,000 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 on the first $150,000 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

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 on purchases in your first 3 months and an extra 6,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary. This is pretty nice and with the comparatively small annual fee of $99, this card is appealing.

Chase also offers a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card with 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months, an extra 3,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary amd an annual fee of $69.

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.

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.

This means that you should apply for your chosen Chase Cardor Southwest Card and then convince your wife, husband, mother, sister, brother and father all to apply USING YOUR REFERRAL LINK!

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 maximiise 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 a great 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.

Dining Bonuses

Check out the “Bonuses” section of the site to find promotions that will earn you even more points. For new members, there are a number of 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 ALSO 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 actually earn a lot of Rapid Rewards points each time you fly with Southwest becuase 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 wonderful 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, 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!

HOT TIP:
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 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
Hyatt
La Quinta
Marriott
MLife – MGM Resorts
RocketMiles
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

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 2 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 card holders).
Earning: 2 points on each $1 billed (3 points on each $1 billed for Southwest Airlines credit card holders).

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 card holders). Earning: 2 points for each $1 billed (3 points for each $1 billed for Southwest Airlines credit card holders)

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 a good 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 really 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.

Conclusion

There are only 3 Rapid Rewards credit card options with limited ways to earn points, but you can also utilize the Chase Ultimate Rewards program to transfer points to your Rapid Rewards account.

There are several cards that 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 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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Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.