16 ways to earn Southwest points quickly
From credit card bonuses to hotel stays, there are surprising number of ways to earn Rapid Rewards points
Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, admiring all the happy vacation photos and wondering how families with two, three or even four children manage to get to Disney World, the Grand Canyon or to New York City without taking impossibly long road trips?
Southwest Airlines, America’s most family-friendly airline, offers an incredible value for award bookings, as well as the everyday value of being able to check up to two pieces of luggage for free on every single ticket. Parents with young children are particularly fond of the airline’s open seating policy, which makes it easy for travelers to find rows to sit together as a family.
This guide offers you 10 of the best ways to stack and maximize your earnings on Southwest Rapid Rewards points – and quickly – by utilizing Southwest’s numerous partnerships. Take a look at our list to see which options best suit your lifestyle; you might be surprised to find that you don’t have to book a plane ticket or sign up for a Southwest credit card to rack up tons of points that will get you to your next destination in no time.
16 ways to earn Rapid Rewards points
- Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses
- Southwest credit card spending
- Transferring points from other credit cards
- Rapid Rewards shopping portal
- Rapid Rewards Dining program
- Booking Southwest flights
- Purchasing higher-class fares
- Elite status
- Rental cars
- Vacation packages
- Paying your electricity bill
- Hotel partners
- Filling out e-Rewards surveys
- Signing up for a Chase Mortgage
- Buying Southwest points
1. Score a large sign-up bonus with a Southwest credit card
You don’t need a Southwest credit card to earn Rapid Rewards points; however, one of the fastest ways to earn Rapid Rewards points is to qualify for a sign-up bonus with a Southwest credit card:
Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses
|Sign-up bonus||Estimated value|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card||
40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
||40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months||$640|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
2. Earn points through everyday spending
You can add additional points through everyday spending on the Southwest credit cards. Each dollar that you spend with Southwest Airlines or its partners earns you two points, while all other purchases earn one point per dollar. Also, with the exception of the Southwest Personal Priority card, you can earn one point per dollar for the first $10,000 that you transfer to a Southwest credit card.
3. Transfer points from non-Southwest credit cards
You might be surprised to find that there are other credit cards that allow you to earn points that can be converted to Rapid Rewards points.
Chase Ultimate Rewards card points can be transferred to dozens of travel, entertainment and dining partners. One of those partners is Southwest Airlines, which allows instantaneous point transfers in increments of 1,000 points at a one-to-one ratio. Each of the following cards comes with a generous sign-up bonus that can amount to hundreds of dollars in travel with Southwest Airlines:
|Sign-up bonus||Estimated value|
15,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months
|Chase Freedom Unlimited*
||15,000 points if you spend
$500 in first 3 months
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
|Chase Sapphire Reserve
||50,000 points if you spend
$4,000 in first 3 months
|Ink Business Preferred
||80,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3
|Ink Business Cash*
||50,000 points if you spend
$3,000 in first 3 months
|Ink Business Unlimited*
||50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3
|*You have to own a premium Chase card, such as the Sapphire Preferred or
Sapphire Reserve card, to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Rapid Rewards.
Note that, though Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be utilized for award bookings on Southwest; they are not tier-qualifying points and will not count toward A-List or A-List Preferred status with Southwest. These points also do not count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass, although the points can be used to book flights for the Companion Pass holder.
4. Shop through the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal
If you aren’t already using a shopping portal to maximize earnings on your online purchases, you’re missing out. Fortunately, it’s never too late to begin. In case you aren’t familiar with shopping portals, they offer one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to maximize point earnings on purchases you’d otherwise make – anything from home goods to apparel to sports equipment.
The Rapid Rewards shopping portal is an online gateway that offers increased points earnings for purchases from partner retailers. Depending on the merchant, you can easily earn double, triple or even 10 times the points you’d earn using just your credit card, in just a few quick steps:
- Go to the Rapid Rewards shopping portal and enter your Southwest login credentials.
- Find the retailer you want to shop with to see if the portal offers extra points for purchases from that store.
- Shop as usual! You should be able to use any form of payment, including gift cards.
5. Use the Rapid Rewards Dining program
Similar to its shopping portal, Southwest offers bonus points for dining with participating restaurants, bars and clubs in its Rapid Rewards Dining program. All you have to do is register on the Rapid Rewards dining program website and link to any credit card that you use for dining out. If you happen to pay for dinner using a Chase Ultimate Rewards card that offers 3X points per dollar spent on food, you’ll be double-stacking your earnings: You’ll earn points from the card itself and points from the dining program portal.
6. Book Southwest flights
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you will earn several points per dollar on each Southwest flight you purchase. Don’t forget that you earn two points per dollar on Southwest purchases using Southwest credit cards, although it may make more sense to earn three points per dollar instead by using a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3 points per dollar on travel, and then transferring the earned points to Rapid Rewards. Note that flights booked with Rapid Rewards points do not earn any additional points; unfortunately, you can’t double-dip that way.
7. Book higher-class airfare
While Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares will always offer the lowest price, the fare class also offers the lowest rate of earnings on Rapid Rewards points, with just six points earned per dollar spent. However, Southwest also offers two additional fare classes: Anytime and Business Select. In addition to some added benefits, Anytime fares earn 10 points for each dollar spent, while Business Select earns 12 points for each dollar spent.
|Rapid Rewards points earned|
|Wanna Get Away fares
||6 points per dollar
||10 points per dollar
|Business Select fares||12 points per dollar|
In some cases, it might make sense to buy the more expensive ticket to quickly earn some extra points. If you happen to find a fare where the cost difference between the three fare classes is minimal, it might be a good value to spend the few extra dollars to buy that higher-fare ticket, to earn up to twice as many points. If you buy a Business Select ticket, it comes with priority boarding and a free premium drink as well!
8. Gain elite status with Southwest
Southwest is pretty egalitarian, and elite status with this airline doesn’t mean quite what it does with most other carriers. That being said, A-List and A-List Preferred members still get some sweet perks, and that includes an accelerated earning bonus on Rapid Rewards points for each revenue flight booked. A-List members earn a 25 percent points bonus on each ticket, and A-List Preferred members earn a generous 100 percent points bonus on each ticket.
9. Use Southwest's rental car partners
Southwest partners with eight different rental car partners with a global presence:
Make sure you earn credit for your rental car bookings by going through the Southwest portal. Earning rates will vary depending on the partner, but all qualified rentals will earn you Rapid Rewards points that get you closer to your next bucket list trip. Remember that these bookings also earn two points per dollar with a Southwest credit card. It’s a good idea to make a habit of checking the Rapid Rewards Promotions page to keep an eye out for the best rate from competing rental car companies.
10. Buy a Southwest vacation package
If you want to take a vacation, but don’t want to bother with logistics, Southwest offers vacation packages with travel partners that can save you from having to plan out all the details. Earnings will vary. As of the time of this post, Southwest offers 3,000-point bonus for trips to the Riviera Maya, while visitors staying at Treasure Island Las Vegas will save up to 30 percent by booking through Southwest. Again, bookings through Southwest earn double points with Southwest cards, and three points per dollar with qualifying Ultimate Rewards credit cards as well as with a number of other premium travel credit cards.
11. Earn points on your electric bill
Who knew that responsible living could be your surprise fast track to your next getaway? Texas residents, Southwest partners with NRG and reliant and eligible customers who switch over will receive a flat rate price for 24 months and earn 15,000 enrollment bonus Rapid Rewards Points after signing up and 500 additional points each month for the next 24 months, for a total of 27,000 Rapid Rewards Points . That’s $432 worth of travel, which could potentially be worth even more if you find an award ticket at a great price.
12. Book hotel stays with Southwest partners
The following Southwest hotel partners offer 600 Rapid Rewards points per qualified stay:
- Best Western
- Carlson Rezidor
- Choice Hotels
- La Quinta
- Marriott Rewards MLife / Starwood Preferred Guest (partners as of Aug. 1)
- MGM Resorts
You will earn an additional 150 points per stay if you book your hotel reservation through Southwest’s hotel portal. From time to time, Southwest offers bonus points promotions that offer increased earning potential, so it’s a good idea to make a habit of checking the Rapid Rewards Promotions page to keep an eye out for good hotel deals.
13. Book hotel stays through Rocketmiles
Rocketmiles offers Rapid Rewards members bonuses between 1,000 and 10,000 Rapid Rewards points per night (or more) on stays booked directly through Rocketmiles. Depending on the hotel and the number of nights you book, a few Rocketmiles reservations could, well, rocket you toward Companion Pass qualification in just a few stays.
14. Complete e-Rewards surveys
One quick way to earn a few points to top off your account is by filling out market research surveys through e-Rewards. While the process is time-consuming in exchange for a relatively small number of points, this is an easy way to keep your activity up so that you don’t lose the Rapid Rewards points in your account, since they expire after 24 months of inactivity.
e-Rewards Currency can be redeemed for Rapid Rewards points in increments of:
- $15 e-Rewards Currency = 300 Rapid Rewards points
- $25 e-Rewards Currency = 600 Rapid Rewards points
- $50 e-Rewards Currency = 1,200 Rapid Rewards points
- $100 e-Rewards Currency = 2,400 Rapid Rewards points
Points take about four to six weeks from redemption to post to your Rapid Rewards account.
15. Sign up for a mortgage through Chase
This one is a sizable commitment but comes with a similarly generous bonus. If you are a Chase cardholder and need to apply for a mortgage anyway, it’s worth looking into Chase to see if you qualify. The bank offers targeted customers a whopping bonus of 75,000 Rapid Rewards points for signing up for a mortgage.
16. Buy points through Southwest
If you just need a few more points to book that special trip or to snag a sweet sale deal on Southwest, you might find yourself scrambling to make up the difference. We always suggest transferring points from partner accounts, such as Ultimate Rewards, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. In those moments, it may make sense to buy the remainder that you need directly from Southwest, even though the exchange rate will be poor in comparison to the other options listed in this guide.
You are limited to purchasing Rapid Rewards points in increments of 1,000 during promotional periods, and 500 when off promotion, with a minimum purchase of 2,000 points. The daily maximum is 60,000 points combined for personal and gift purchases.
By now, you’ve hopefully learned more than a dozen ways to fast-track your way to your next vacation, just by tweaking some of the ways you do what you’re already doing every day. Remember that Southwest sale fares sometimes begin as low as just 1,350 Rapid Rewards points for short one-way flights, so, by implementing some of these tactics, you’ll be able to trade your hard work in for a fantastic getaway in much less time than you think.
If you are someone who loves to travel – especially to domestic locales – but doesn’t want to have to put a lot of sweat into figuring out how to redeem airline miles, Southwest Rapid Rewards points may be the happy medium you’ve been searching for.
Rapid Rewards points are easy to redeem as they are to earn – you get a consistently good return on your points without having to worry about hidden fees or wading through a lot of complex rules to use them.
Southwest points value
Rapid Rewards points – while more valuable than the average credit card point, fall in the middle of the pack for airline rewards programs. While Southwest offers more value than some competitors, including JetBlue and United MileagePlus, it’s also far outmatched by a few airlines, including British Airways and American Airlines. We value Southwest points at approximately 1.6 cents per point:
See Related: Best ways to redeem Southwest points, Which Southwest credit card is best for you?, Best ways to earn Southwest points, Southwest Airlines partners, Southwest A-List status, Booking a rewards flight with Southwest, How to get the Southwest Companion Pass
Why we value Southwest points less than some airline currencies
While programs such as British Airways and AAdvantage use a chart to price their flight awards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards program ties the number of required miles closely to the price of the fare. In other words, the number of points required for a flight rises and falls with the price of the fare and remains fairly consistent across fare types. Since there are few opportunities to maximize the value of the points, Rapid Rewards points tend to have a lower value on average than rewards programs with fixed charts.
Southwest offers some advantages over these programs, however, in terms of flexibility and simplicity – you don’t have to navigate a complicated rewards chart to figure out how to redeem your points and you don’t have to deal with limited awards seats. As long as there are seats are available, you can use your points to pay for a seat.
Not to mention, Rapid Rewards points are still very valuable, especially if you redeem them for Wanna Get Away fares.
Since Wanna Get Away fares are by far the best deal on Southwest, we’ve used them to set the value of Southwest points at 1.6 cents per point. As you can see from our chart below, the other fare options on Southwest (Anytime and Business Select) don’t offer as much as value:
|Fare type||Value per point (cents)|
|Wanna Get Away||1.6|
How to value your Rapid Rewards points
We’ve told you how we calculate the value of Rapid Rewards points, but, truly, the value of points is subjective – depending on your goals for your points and how you ultimately end up using them. Here are some questions you should ask yourself in valuing your Rapid Rewards points:
- How do you prefer to redeem your points? Do you intend to redeem your points for anything besides Southwest flights? If so, you’ll probably have to shave some cents off your rewards value, since the value of redemption options outside of Southwest flights tends to be low.
- What class do you prefer to fly in? Class is almost a moot point on Southwest flights – you get a few additional perks and priority seating in Business Select class, but otherwise, everyone sits in the same seats. Still, you should decide ahead of time if you prefer a Business Select fare, since the points will have a lower value.
- Where do you want to fly? The more popular your destination, the higher the price of the flights and the more likely lower-priced fares will get snatched up quickly.
- Where are you flying from? If you live in a major city, you may find yourself with more flight options (and more options for Wanna Get Away fares) than if you live in a smaller city.
- How flexible are you on flying? If you are flexible on your dates and destinations, you are more likely to find Wanna Get Away fares (as well as great deals on discount fares).
- How far in advance can you book your flight? Wanna Get Away fares tend to disappear quickly from the list of available flights, especially for popular times and destinations. If you don’t tend to book your flights months in advance, you may find yourself having to pony up extra points to purchase an Anytime fare.
How to calculate the value of Rapid Rewards points
There are varying philosophies on calculating the value of points, but, for simplicity’s sake, we offer the following calculation:
Rapid Rewards Value = Reward Value (in dollars)/Number of Points
In other words, to determine the value of your points, you take the amount that you would pay for your intended redemption option in cash and divide it by the number of points.
Of course, there is an endless number of factors that can affect the value of your points, such as the opportunity cost for the Rapid Rewards points that you would earn by paying for your flight with cash or a rewards card, varying prices of airfare over time, the lowest possible price that you could get by flying with any airline to your desired destination, and so on.
But, for a basic comparison of points across rewards programs, simply dividing the price of your redemption by the number of points should give you enough information.
How flexible are Rapid Rewards points?
Rapid Rewards points are extremely flexible for an airline rewards currency -- flexibility is, in fact, one of the greatest benefits of flying with Southwest. Here's a rundown of the pros and cons of Rapid Rewards:
- Rapid Rewards points never expire.
- There are no blackout dates or restrictions on awards seats on Southwest Airlines – if a seat is available on a flight, you can book it with points.
- The Southwest Airline network offers great domestic coverage (including flights to Hawaii soon).
- Point valuation is very straightforward – Southwest only has three types of fares (Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select fares) and the pricing and value of points is very consistent across these three options, so it’s easy to determine what type of fare you need to book and what strategy you need to take to get the best value.
- Southwest is extremely flexible about making changes to award tickets – you can cancel up to 10 minutes before your flight and have your points refunded, and there’s no fee for changes.
- You don’t have to worry about hidden costs or fees with Southwest. For most flights, you will only owe $5.60 in government-mandated taxes and fees.
- Routing rules are very flexible. Since all flights are booked as one-way tickets, you can create open-jaw tickets by booking two one-way flights. Layovers aren’t allowed, but, since Southwest doesn’t fly to many international destinations, there’s not much need for complex routing.
- Southwest partners with many companies – including hotel, car rental and other types of partners – giving you a plethora of opportunities for earning points, including some great deals that can earn you a lot of points all at once.
- You have few options for international travel with Southwest Airlines – outside the U.S., Southwest only travels to Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean – and it doesn’t partner with any other airlines to give you more flight options. (You can book international flights with other airlines through the More Rewards portal, but the value is terrible.)
- Wanna Get Away fares tend to disappear quickly, so you need to book far in advance if you want a good value on your points.
- Since the value of Rapid Rewards points is fairly flat, there aren’t many opportunities to “hack” your way to a higher point value (but the program offers many other kinds of hacks, as you’ll see in other pages of this guide).
Are Rapid Rewards points worth it?
If you want a simple airline rewards program with a lot of value, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are a great way to go. Not only can you get a lot of mileage with your points, but – since Southwest makes it simple to redeem points – you’re almost certainly guaranteed to fly great places with your points.
The best card for Southwest flyers
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Why should you get it?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is by far the best value for a frequent Southwest flyer, thanks to its $75 travel credit and 7,500-point annual bonus.
More things to know:
See Related: What are Southwest points worth?, Southwest credit cards, Best ways to redeem Southwest points, Southwest Airlines partners, Southwest A-List status, Booking a rewards flight with Southwest, How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
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