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

Earning Southwest points

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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.

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

$640
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
$640
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • 25,000 points if you spend $15,000 total within the first year
$1,040
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
60,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
$960

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
Chase Freedom*

15,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months

$240
Chase Freedom Unlimited*
15,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months
$240
Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
$800
Chase Sapphire Reserve
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
$800
Ink Business Preferred
80,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
$1,280
Ink Business Cash*
50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
$800
Ink Business Unlimited*
50,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
$800
*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
Anytime fares
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:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Hertz
  • National
  • Payless
  • Thrifty 

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
  • Hyatt
  • 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.

Bottom line

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.

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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Updated: 08-16-2018