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TravelSouthwest Rapid Rewards: 12 easy ways to earn points

Southwest Rapid Rewards: 12 easy ways to earn points


Southwest Airlines is a favorite among many domestic U.S. flyers. The airline offers two free checked bags, no cancellation or change fees and a very lucrative Companion Pass.

Of course, the airline has its own points program, too: Southwest Rapid Rewards. You can use these points to book free flights (plus taxes) on any Southwest route with zero blackout dates.

But how do you earn Rapid Rewards points? Let’s dive deep into the program to show you all the different ways you can earn Southwest points by flying, using cobranded credit cards and leveraging your everyday spending.

Earn Rapid Rewards points by flying Southwest

Southwest Boeing 737. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

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 four factors: how much you paid for your ticket, the fare class you booked (Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime or Business Select), your elite status and the payment method used.

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:

  • Wanna Get Away: 6 points per dollar
  • Wanna Get Away Plus: 8 points per dollar
  • Anytime: 10 points per dollar
  • Business Select: 12 points per dollar

Additionally, Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred elite members earn bonus points on every qualifying flight:

  • A-List: 25% additional Rapid Rewards points
  • A-List Preferred: 100% additional Rapid Rewards points

Hypothetically, if you book a one-way Wanna Get Away flight from Chicago’s Midway International Airport (MDW) to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) for $100 before taxes without elite status, you’d earn 600 Rapid Rewards points. It’s important to note that distance is not a factor when earning Rapid Rewards points.

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In other words, if you paid that same amount for a flight from MDW to St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) or one from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) to Oakland International Airport (OAK) in California, 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’ll earn.

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 $74.31. When you multiply that by six (since it’s a Wanna Get Away fare), you get 445.86, which Southwest generously rounds up to 446 points.

At this time, Southwest does not have any partner airlines. This means you can only earn Rapid Rewards points by flying on Southwest Airlines-operated flights.

Earn points with a Southwest credit card

XAVIER LORENZO/GETTY IMAGES

Southwest Airlines has several cobranded credit cards you can use to earn Rapid Rewards points. The great thing about these cards is that the welcome bonuses, in addition to credit card spending, will count toward 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. Here are the cards and their current bonuses:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2025, plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is a limited-time offer that ends March 11.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2025, plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is a limited-time offer that ends March 11.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2025, plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. This is a limited-time offer that ends March 11.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

If you don’t already hold a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and haven’t received a new cardmember bonus in the last 24 months, you are eligible for the limited-time offer on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, which all include a Companion Pass valid through the end of next February.

The offer expires March 11 and is not valid on business or employee credit cards.

Related: Comparing the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, Premier and Plus credit cards

Transfer Southwest points from Chase Ultimate Rewards

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 they typically process instantly.

Whether you should execute these transfers, however, is a different story. TPG currently values Rapid Rewards points at 1.4 cents each, while Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2.05 cents apiece. As a result, if you transfer points to Southwest, you may sacrifice some value that could be put toward redemptions like top-tier Hyatt properties or Singapore Airlines business class.

If you want to give your Ultimate Rewards balance a boost for a Southwest transfer, here are some cards that offer nice sign-up bonuses:

Remember that Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers can redeem their Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal to book flights. Meanwhile, Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred cardholders can redeem at 1.25 cents each.

Related: From international business class to domestic hops: 6 of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

Transfer Southwest points from Marriott

MARKO GEBER/GETTY IMAGES

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 3:1 ratio. 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, improving the effective transfer ratio to 2.4:1.

Related: Best Marriott credit cards

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 by transferring points from other loyalty programs. Here are some 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 automatically earn bonus points on your purchase 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. These rates frequently fluctuate, so check Rapid Rewards Shopping often. You may also come across promotions and other deals that offer extra points, especially around the holidays.

However, remember that Southwest isn’t the only airline with a shopping portal. You can easily compare earning rates with shopping portals by using an aggregator like Cashback Monitor. We recommend doing this to ensure you’re always getting the best return on your online purchases.

Southwest also partners with various other retailers, such as 1-800-Flowers.com, Laithwaites home delivery wine, Harry & David gifts and Home Chef meal kits. Rapid Rewards earning rates vary across these partnerships.

Related: TPG reader credit card question: Which credit card should I use in shopping portals?

Rapid Rewards Dining

MOMO PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES

Most airline loyalty programs have dining rewards initiatives, and Southwest Rapid Rewards is no exception. Through Rapid Rewards Dining, you can earn extra points 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. You can link up to 12 credit cards to Rapid Rewards Dining.

Whenever you swipe one of those cards at a participating restaurant, you’ll earn extra Rapid Rewards points. These come in addition to the points you earn with your credit card, so make sure to use one of the best credit cards for dining 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. By enrolling in email notifications, you will earn 3 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants. If you opt out of receiving emails, your earning rate is cut to 1 point per $2 spent.

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.

Additionally, Southwest members earn tiered bonuses.

  • New Member Bonus: Earn 500 bonus points when you spend $25 or more at a participating restaurant and complete an online review within the first 30 days of joining.
  • First Step Bonus: Earn 1,500 bonus points from dining and completing reviews and get rewarded with an additional 500 bonus points (one time only).
  • Thank You Bonus: Earn 300 bonus points after every 1,000 points accrued from dining and completing reviews (ongoing, other bonus points excluded).

You’ll also earn 10 bonus points for every restaurant review you submit.

Related: 12 restaurant loyalty programs that are worth joining

Southwest Rapid Rewards hotel booking site

Hotel Indigo London — Paddington in the United Kingdom. SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Have a hotel stay coming up? You can use Southwest’s hotel booking portal to earn extra points on each stay. The amount of points varies by the price of your stay. 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. Usually, though, you’ll earn much less.

For example, I conducted a test search for a one-night stay at the Club Quarters Hotel Embarcadero in San Francisco. The room costs $270 for a night in June and awards 270 Rapid Rewards points per night. While this is certainly better than nothing, it’s a small number of points.

You will, however, earn more points on stays at select “Rapid Rewards Points Plus properties” through the portal. Southwest states on its website that bookings made with Points Plus properties can lock in “thousands of points” with an earning rate of at least 1 point per dollar spent, which is what you earn on most hotel bookings in the portal.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t earn traditional hotel points on these bookings, nor will you earn credits toward 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. Thus, you’ll need to decide whether you value your hotel points and elite status benefits more than the bonus Rapid Rewards points you could earn.

Southwest also partners with several hotel programs, such as Marriott and Hyatt, so travelers can earn Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points.

Related: 6 reasons to avoid booking through an online travel agency

Earn points through rental car bookings

Southwest also partners with all the major rental car companies, allowing you to earn Rapid Rewards points on car rentals. You can typically earn 600 Rapid Rewards points by booking your rental car through Southwest. Some partners even allow you to request points on past bookings.

Earn points on utility bill payments

Southwest partners with two utility companies: NRG Home and Reliant Energy. Rapid Rewards members with NRG Home electric service in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey or Pennsylvania as well as members with Reliant Energy service in Texas can earn points by paying bills.

Earning potential varies depending on service, plan and how much you pay on your bill.

Earn points by taking surveys

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 surveys vary in length, so this can be a good way to kill time while earning extra points. After you sign up and complete your first survey within three months, you’ll earn 500 bonus points. Just keep in mind that points can take up to six weeks to post to your account.

Related: Here’s how you can easily earn points and miles by completing surveys

Earn points for emergency medical subscriptions

Southwest partners with Emergency Assistance Plus, which offers 24-hour emergency medical assistance to its subscribers when they travel. The service offers multiple packages and various rates for members and their families.

Southwest offers active Emergency Assistance Plus members 1,400 Rapid Rewards bonus points the first year they join and every year they renew with the service.

Buy Southwest points

WESTEND61/GETTY IMAGES

If you need Southwest points fast and transferring isn’t an option, buying Southwest points might be a worthwhile way to top up for a specific award. The standard rate — 3 cents per point — is more than twice TPG’s valuation.

We don’t recommend buying at this price under most circumstances. That said, the airline frequently runs promotions that offer better deals. For example, the airline is currently running a promotion where you can buy points with up to a 45% bonus through Feb. 23. This brings the purchase rate down to as low as 1.65 cents per point. Since TPG values Rapid Rewards points at 1.4 cents, the purchase rate is still slightly higher than the value, but the offer could be worth going after if you have a specific flight redemption in mind.

Related: Southwest Rapid Rewards: Complete guide to earning, redeeming and maximizing points

Bottom line

It’s worth noting that Southwest Rapid Rewards points were devalued by the airline Jan. 1, 2024, as the airline bumped up the number of points needed to book an award flight by 4%.

Even though Rapid Rewards points are worth less in 2024, they are still easy to earn. In addition to earning points from flying, you can also earn them by allocating your everyday spending to the proper credit cards or by shopping and dining with select merchants. Using a combination of all these methods may help you stockpile Rapid Rewards points quickly.



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