Southwest is one of the most popular budget carriers in the United States, known for its Companion Pass as well as its large variety of routes, including its latest routes to Hawai’i. But what can you expect from its loyalty program, Rapid Rewards? One thing you can definitely count on is plenty of ways to earn points for later use on things like Southwest award flights.
Here are the 15 best ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points, so you can start traveling for free sooner rather than later.
1. Get a Rapid Rewards Account
The first thing you need to do, obviously, is sign up for a Rapid Rewards account. There’s no need to sign up for one of Southwest’s co-branded credit cards to start earning Rapid Rewards points. All you have to do is sign up and start flying.
You won’t earn any points up front just for signing up, but this is one thing you absolutely have to have before you can start earning at all.
2. Flying Southwest
Flying Southwest is one of the most straightforward ways to start earning Rapid Rewards points, and the amount of points you earn when you fly is dependent upon several different factors.
- Basic members earn 12 points per $1 spent on Business Select fares, 10 points per $1 spent on Anytime fares and 6 points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away fares
- A-List members earn a 25 percent status bonus, so 15 points per $1 spent on Business Select fares, 12.5 points per $1 spent on Anytime fares and 7.5 points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away fares
- A-List Preferred members earn a 100 percent status bonus, so 24 points per $1 spent on Business Select fares, 20 points per $1 spent on Anytime fares and 12 points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away fares
As you can see, you’ll earn more points the higher your Rapid Rewards status is, so you want to try to achieve one of those higher statuses if you can.
- To earn A-List status you must either fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points.
- To earn A-List Preferred status, you must either fly 50 qualifying one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points.
Tier qualifying points are not equal to Rapid Rewards points. There are only two ways to earn tier qualifying points: by purchasing Southwest flight tickets or using either the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Both will allow you to earn up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year.
Beyond earning extra points, you get a few other things when you obtain one of the two Rapid Rewards higher tier statuses.
With A-List status, you enjoy:
- 25 percent more points earned on each flight
- Priority check-in
- Priority boarding
- Access to expedited security lanes
- Free same-day standby
- Dedicated help service line
With A-List Preferred status, you enjoy all of the above, plus:
- 100 percent more points earned on each flight
- Free in-flight WiFi
3. Co-Branded Credit Cards
There are several different co-branded Southwest consumer credit cards to choose from, so you can start earning points with your everyday spending.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
All of the above give you 2x points on Southwest purchases and rental car and hotel purchases (with select partners). All other purchases give you 1x points. Most of these cards do come with pretty nice sign-up bonuses, but these bonuses change frequently, so you’ll want to check the current offers to see which might be the most lucrative for you.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
Introduced in the last year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is relatively new and comes with a $149 annual fee, offset by a $75 travel credit toward Southwest flights. You receive four upgraded boarding passes per year, as well as 20 percent back on in-flight purchases and a 7,500-point account anniversary bonus.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a $99 annual fee and you receive a slightly smaller anniversary point bonus of 6,000 points. This card, however, does comes with the opportunity to earn tier qualifying points, and you earn 1,500 tier points each time you spend $10,000, up to $100,000.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card comes with a $69 annual fee (starting the first year) and 3,000 points on your anniversary.
4. Business Credit Card
If you have a business, you can likewise sign up for a Southwest business credit card and begin earning Rapid Rewards points that way.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card gives you 2x bonus points on Southwest purchases and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases. You receive a 6,000-point bonus on your cardmember anniversary.
The current sign-up offer is 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.
Your points will not expire as long as your account is open.
5. Transfer Points from Other Credit Cards
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the only credit card program affiliated with Southwest Rewards, so you can earn Ultimate Rewards points and then transfer them to your Rapid Rewards account. This is often a better route to go than using your Southwest co-branded card, as many Chase Ultimate Rewards cards earn more points more ways, providing you with more earning flexibility and opportunities.
Cards you can use to earn more points and then transfer those points to Rapid Rewards include…
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio.
6. Referral Bonuses
The personal Southwest co-branded credit cards do allow you to earn referral bonuses on occasion. These bonuses change periodically and are not always available, so you’ll want to keep your eye out for them. When they are available, all you have to do is have a friend or family member sign up and mark you as the referral and then, once they’re approved, you receive a bonus.
7. Rapid Rewards Dining
Rapid Rewards Dining is a different program from Rapid Rewards, so you’ll have to sign up separately, but once you do, you can easily earn points at your favorite restaurants.
There are frequently sign-up bonuses for the program. Right now, you’ll receive 1,000 points after you spend $75 combined within 30 days, across three restaurants. To receive your bonus points, you do have to complete an online review of each restaurant within the 30 days.
The rest of the time you’ll earn 1 point per $2 spent at participating restaurants, or 3 points per $1 spent when you sign up to receive email notifications from Rapid Rewards Dining. Members receive an extra 10 points when they review the restaurant online after their dining experience. There are also extra bonus miles you can receive by reaching certain miles-earning goals.
8. Rapid Rewards Shopping
Similar to most loyalty programs, Rapid Rewards does have a shopping portal. Rapid Rewards Shopping lets you make purchases with your favorite brands online, when you’re rerouted to that vendor via the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal.
There are more than 800 brands to shop with, including a lot of the big box retailers like Macy’s and Best Buy, and Rapid Rewards Shopping additionally gives you access to coupons and specials for the stores you shop with most frequently.
9. Hotel Stays
You can earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per stay with Southwest’s seven hotel partners.
- Best Western Hotels & Resorts
- Choice Hotels
- LaQuinta Inns & Suites
- MGM Resorts International
You can also earn the same on hotel stays booked via RocketMiles. The Southwest Hotels portal gives you 600 points per stay, plus an extra 150 bonus points.
10. Car Rentals and Ground Transportation
Rent a car and earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per rental.
Car rental partners include…
Ground transportation partners include SuperShuttle ExecuCar, and you receive 300 Rapid Rewards points for a round-trip shuttle booking from the airport.
You can bundle your vacations and then book all your travel needs through Southwest Vacations, and then earn more bonus points. However, the amount of points that you earn for your combined flights, hotels and rentals varies according to the overall price of the package and the brands you choose.
Yes, you can actually earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points via your energy bill. This option is only available for Rapid Rewards members located in Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
If you sign up for energy services via Energy Plus or Everything Energy, you’ll receive a 5,000 point bonus if you do not have a Southwest Airlines credit card, or a 7,500 point bonus if you do. Then, you’ll go on to earn 2 points on each $1 billed if you’re not a cardholder, 3 points per every $1 billed if you are a cardholder.
If you sign up for energy services via Reliant in Texas, you’ll receive a 15,000 points sign-up bonus and 500 points each month.
Southwest Rapid Rewards members can earn extra bonus points through e-Rewards. Basically, e-Rewards pays you for your participation in surveys via its e-Rewards currency, and then you can transfer that currency over to Rapid Rewards points.
You get an initial 500 point bonus when you complete your first survey within three months of signing up.
Then, as you go on to fill out more surveys, you can transfer your e-Rewards currency to earn up to 2,400 Rapid Rewards points (equal to $100 e-Rewards currency).
14. Program Referrals
Just as you can refer a friend to a Southwest credit card and earn points, you can also earn points when you refer your friend to the overall Rapid Rewards program. This opportunity is limited and you’ll know when it’s available to you, via an email alert. You receive 500 bonus points for up to four friends who join the Rapid Rewards program.
15. Gas and Fuel
You can earn points on your gas and fuel when you make a purchase at a Marathon gas station. Earn 1 point for every gallon purchased, plus additional points on in-store purchases. You must be a member of the MakeItCount program to qualify for this points-earning opportunity.
Southwest Rapid Rewards earning potential is varied, so there are plenty of ways to earn no matter what you’re doing, but some ways are better than others. In many cases, you can earn more points with non-Southwest-affiliated cards and then transfer them to your Rapid Rewards account, for a better value. However, you still shouldn’t miss out on some of Southwest’s other earning opportunities, including those that are easiest, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program.