Top 12 Ways to Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards

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Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® points are among the most valuable airline currencies. For travelers who primarily take domestic flights, Rapid Rewards are great for getting award tickets at an outstanding value, as points on flight redemption options often have a value higher than the industry average. Plus, there are several easy ways to earn Rapid Rewards points on all of your travel purchases and everyday expenses. Below, we outline the top 12 ways to earn Rapid Rewards points.

1. Travel with Southwest Airlines

The far-and-away easiest way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points is by booking flights with the airline. For most people, you'll earn between 6 and 12 points per dollar spent on each flight that you take with Southwest. This rate depends on the class of service you purchase and whether you have elite status with the airline. At the cheapest Wanna Get Away fare level, you'll earn 6 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on Southwest flights.

Southwest Rapid Rewards for each fare class

2. Earn more Rapid Rewards with elite status

You can boost the number of Rapid Rewards points that you earn per dollar by earning A-List or A-List Preferred elite status with the airline. Members of the entry-level status tier, A-List, earn a 25% points bonus on all Southwest purchases, while those in the top-tier A-List Preferred bracket earn a 100% points bonus on their purchases with the airline.

Points Earned on a $200 Flight

FareStatusPoints
Wanna Get AwayNone1,200
AnytimeNone2,000
Business SelectNone2,400
Wanna Get AwayA-List1,500
AnytimeA-List2,500
Business SelectA-List3,000
Wanna Get AwayA-List Preferred2,400
AnytimeA-List Preferred4,000
Business SelectA-List Preferred4,800

As you can see in the table above, you'll earn significantly more points if you have elite status and purchase a higher fare class. To become a status holder on Southwest, you'll need to hit a spending and flights minimum. The A-List entry level requires you to fly on at least 25 one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier-qualifying points within one calendar year, and the A-List Preferred level requires you to fly on a minimum of 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier-qualifying points per year.

You'll earn tier-qualifying points at the same rate as Rapid Rewards points, so 6, 10 or 12 for every dollar you spend with the airline, depending on the purchased fare class. For example, if you exclusively buy Anytime tickets, you'll need to spend a minimum of $3,000 per year on Southwest flights to qualify for A-List status.

3. Southwest co-branded credit cards

Opening a Southwest Rapids Rewards credit card is the quickest way to earn thousands of Rapid Rewards points at once. The three consumer credit cards are currently offering up to 40,000 points.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Annual fee$69$99$149$99
Points/$ on Southwest expenses2222
Points/$ on other expenses1111
Bonus points per year3,0006,0007,5006,000

If you're opening a co-branded card for the points, we'd suggest going with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. The card comes with a reasonable annual fee of $99, and cardholders earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, 1 point per dollar on general spending and 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points each anniversary year.

4. Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards

If you'd prefer to earn points that can be transferred to a variety of airline partners, we'd recommend opening a Chase Ultimate Rewards® card rather than a Southwest co-branded card. The Chase cards come with attractive sign-up bonuses and earn points that are much more flexible, as the Ultimate Rewards program has 12 transfer partners. You can transfer Chase points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. Below is a list of all the credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards cardSpending rewardsAnnual fee
Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom®*5x on rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum$0
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited®*1.5x on everything$0
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card2x on dining and travel$95
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®3x on dining and travel (3x on travel after earning travel credit)$550
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card*5x on select business categories$0
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card*1.5x on everything$0
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card3x on travel$95
*You'll need a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card in order to transfer points.

If you're new to the world of travel rewards, we'd suggest starting out with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases. It also comes with a 60,000-point sign-up bonus that you can earn by spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

For business owners, the best Chase card for earning Southwest Rapid Rewards is the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which earns 3 points per dollar on travel and on shipping purchases; internet, phone and cable services; and online advertising purchases.

Terms apply to Chase credit card offers. See chase.com for more information.

5. Rapid Rewards shopping portal

The Rapid Rewards shopping portal is a great way to earn extra points on your everyday purchases. To earn points for shopping, all you need to do is search for a store on the portal, select an eligible offer and make a purchase. Depending on the merchant, you can earn anywhere from 1 to 10 Rapid Rewards points per dollar—in addition to the credit card rewards you'd normally earn.

Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal offers
Merchants featured on the Rapid Rewards portal

The Rapid Rewards shopping portal has hundreds of popular merchants, so you'll likely find a few purchases every month where you can earn some extra points. Plus, in addition to earning bonus points on each dollar you spend, some merchants offer flat-rate bonuses of 1,000 to 3,000 Rapid Rewards points for making a purchase.

6. Rapid Rewards dining

The Rapid Rewards Dining portal is another easy way to earn points on purchases that you'd already be making. Simply create an account on the website and enter your credit card information, and you'll automatically earn points whenever you pay your bill at an eligible restaurant.

As a member of Rapid Rewards Dining, you can earn 3 points per eligible dollar when you opt into email notifications from the program. Otherwise, you'll earn only 1 point for every $2 you spend at a participating restaurant. You can also earn bonus points for completing certain tasks—for example, 10 bonus points each time you review a restaurant, 500 bonus points when you reach 1,500 points and 300 bonus points when you earn 2,500 points.

7. Book a rental car with a Rapid Rewards partner

You're in luck if you frequently rent cars on your vacations or business trips. As a member of the Rapid Rewards program, you can earn points for rentals with eight of the major car rental brands, including:

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

For the rental car companies listed above, you'll get 600 Rapid Rewards points for each qualifying rental you make at a participating location. Just be sure to request the points at the time of rental or reservation. Also note that in some cases, you must take a flight with Southwest on the trip that you rent a car in order to earn the points.

8. Book a Southwest Vacations package

Booking a vacation package for your family? You can earn Rapid Rewards for that. By booking through Southwest, you'll earn points for each member of your family when you enter their Rapid Rewards number at the time of booking, when you check in for your flight, or when you speak to an agent at the airport counter or check-in gate. You can also earn 5,000 extra Rapid Rewards points for your trip by using Southwest's Vacation Plus planning service.

9. Book a hotel stay with a Southwest partner

Southwest has a variety of hotel partners that let you earn Rapid Rewards points on your stays. To earn points on a specific hotel stay, you'll have to make a loyalty account with the corresponding hotel chain and set your points preferences to Southwest Rapid Rewards. If you go this route, you'll earn Rapid Rewards points instead of hotel points for each stay. As such, decide whether hotel points or Southwest points are more valuable to you.

10. Take a survey

You can earn points for participating in market research surveys with Rewards for Opinions. It's free to join, and you'll be able to take surveys whenever you want. However, earning rewards from these surveys may not be worthwhile, as the payout is usually paltry compared to the time you spend answering questions.

11. Earn points on utilities and gas

If your power provider is NRG or Reliant, you can earn points just for paying your utility bill. Members of the Rapid Rewards program will earn 2 points per dollar on the supply portion of their bill. You'll also get a 10,000-point enrollment bonus after two months as an active NRG customer. Plus, if you're a Rapid Rewards cardholder, you'll get an additional 2,500-point bonus when you enroll.

12. Buy Rapid Rewards points from Southwest

The last resort for getting Rapid Rewards points is buying them from the airline. While we don't recommend this for most people, it can be a good option if you need just a few more points to book an award flight. Points cost 3 cents each if you buy between 2,000 and 4,500 points or 2.75 cents each if you buy between 5,000 and 60,000 points. Generally, it's a better idea to earn points rather than buy them.

Frequently asked questions about Southwest Rapid Rewards

Below are some common questions about Southwest's rewards program.

Do Southwest points expire?

Your Southwest points won't expire as long as you make a purchase with Southwest at least once every two years. And if you have a co-branded card with Southwest, points won't expire unless you cancel your account.

Do I have to pay to transfer Southwest points?

No. You can transfer points to someone else for free.

Do Southwest points roll over?

Yes. As long as you make a purchase with Southwest at least once every two years, your points will roll over into the next calendar year.

When will my Southwest points post after my flight?

Typically, points will take 72 hours (three days) to post after the end of your itinerary. Points earned on credit card purchases will post to your account up to 30 days after your statement ends.

The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom®, Ink Business Preferred&#8480 Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Yowana is a former product analyst at ValuePenguin, specializing in credit cards, rewards programs and travel. He previously covered mortgages, banking and insurance for the website. Yowana graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).