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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 — Southwest’s flight redemption options are often more valuable than the industry average. Plus, there are many easy ways to earn Rapid Rewards points on all of your travel purchases and everyday expenses. Below, we outline the top 14 ways to earn Rapid Rewards points.
Top 14 ways to earn Southwest points
- Southwest flights
- Elite status bonus
- Southwest credit cards
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points
- Rapid Rewards shopping
- Rapid Rewards dining
- Southwest car rental partners
- Southwest vacations
- Southwest hotel partners
- Southwest Rewards for Opinions
- Utilities and gas purchases
- Refer a friend
- Purchase Southwest points
1. Southwest flights
The easiest way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points is by booking and flying with Southwest Airlines. Depending on the fare type, you’ll earn between six and 12 points per dollar spent on your Southwest ticket. At the cheapest Wanna Get Away fare level, you’ll earn six Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on Southwest flights, while you’ll earn 12 Rapid Rewards points per dollar if you purchase a Business Select fare (the middle-range Anytime flights earn 10 points per $1). Points are earned on the base fare price, excluding taxes and fees.
2. Elite status bonus
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. Southwest A-List members earn a 25% bonus on all Southwest flights, while top-tier A-List Preferred members earn a 100% bonus on their Rapid Rewards points earned with the airline.
Points earned on a $200 flight
|Wanna Get Away||None||1,200|
|Wanna Get Away||A-List (25% boost)||1,500|
|Anytime||A-List (25% boost)||2,500|
|Business Select||A-List (25% boost)||3,000|
|Wanna Get Away||A-List Preferred (100% boost)||2,400|
|Anytime||A-List Preferred (100% boost)||4,000|
|Business Select||A-List Preferred (100% boost)||4,800|
As the table above illustrates, you’ll earn significantly more Rapid Rewards points by having elite status, especially if you purchase a higher fare class.
Earning Southwest elite status requires you to either complete a minimum number of one-way qualifying flights or earn a minimum number of tier qualifying points. To get A-List status, you must fly on at least 25 one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier-qualifying points within one calendar year. Top-tier A-List Preferred status requires you to fly a minimum of 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier-qualifying points per year.
Tier-qualifying points are awarded at the same rate as base Rapid Rewards points: six, 10 or 12 for every dollar you spend with Southwest, depending on the purchased fare class. For example, if you exclusively buy Anytime tickets, you’ll need to spend a minimum of $3,500 per year on Southwest fares to qualify for A-List status.
Note that bonus points from holding Southwest elite status do not count as tier qualifying points. However, you can also earn tier qualifying points through spend on eligible Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards.
3. Southwest credit cards
Opening a Southwest Rapids Rewards credit card is one of the easiest ways to earn lots of Rapid Rewards points. The three consumer credit cards are currently offering up to 65,000 points, and if you have a small business, you could earn up to 80,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points.
||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$69|
||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$99|
||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Earn 65,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$149|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.||$99|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.||$199|
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 Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Cardholders also get 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points each anniversary year.
If you’re a business owner who flies Southwest, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is the most compelling, as it offers a hefty welcome bonus, annual bonus points and up to 365 Wi-Fi credits.
4. Transfer Ultimate Rewards points
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. Chase offers an array of cards that have attractive sign-up bonuses and earn flexible points. Its Ultimate Rewards program has a total of 13 transfer partners, including Southwest Rapid Rewards — you can transfer Chase points to Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000. Below is a list of all the credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.||$0|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.||$550|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn.||$0|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business||$0|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.||$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 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
For business owners, the best Chase card for earning points that you can turn into Southwest Rapid Rewards is the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, which lets you Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.
5. Rapid Rewards shopping
The Rapid Rewards shopping portal is a great way to earn Southwest 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 0.5 to 20 Rapid Rewards points per dollar — in addition to any credit card rewards you’d normally earn as a cardholder.
With hundreds of popular merchants, you’ll likely find at least a few you routinely shop with that can earn you some extra points. In addition to earning bonus points on each dollar you spend, some merchants offer flat-rate bonuses for making a single purchase. Check out all the current merchant offers.
6. Rapid Rewards dining
The Rapid Rewards Dining portal is another easy way to earn Southwest points for an activity that you may already be enjoying anyway. 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 three points per eligible dollar when you opt into email notifications from the program. Otherwise, you’ll earn only one 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 and 500 bonus points when you reach 1,500 points as a "First Step Bonus" (with another 300-point "Thank You Bonus" each time you earn an additional 1,000 points).
7. Southwest car rental partners
If you frequently rent cars on your vacations or business trips, you’re in luck. You can earn bonus points on every rental.
Southwest Rapid Rewards partners with a number of major car rental brands:
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 and provide your Rapid Rewards number — plus, you should also note that in some cases, you must fly with Southwest on the same trip in order to earn points on your car rental.
8. Southwest Vacations
Booking a vacation package for your family? You can earn Rapid Rewards for that. By booking through Southwest Vacations, you’ll earn points for each member of your family as long as you enter their Rapid Rewards numbers. This can be done 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. Southwest hotel partners
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.
Southwest’s hotel partners include the following programs:
- Best Western
- Choice Hotels
- Marriott Bonvoy
- MGM Resorts
- Radisson Rewards
- World of Hyatt
In addition to these brand partners, you can book a vast array of hotels directly through Southwest’s website, through a partnership with Booking.com. The number of Rapid Rewards points awarded are prominently displayed at time of booking. Typically, you’ll only earn one point per $1 of hotel rate, though you can occasionally find special offers for thousands of points per stay.
10. Southwest Rewards for Opinions
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. Utilities and gas purchases
If your power provider is NRG, you can earn points just for paying your utility bill, though you’ll have to be a resident of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Members of the Rapid Rewards program will earn two 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.
If you live in Texas, you can earn 15,000 Rapid Rewards points for switching to the Reliant Secure® 24 plan. You’ll also earn 500 Rapid Rewards points per month for a total of 27,000 points over the two-year period. You must be a new Reliant customer to be eligible for this offer.
You can also earn at the pump with Marathon MakeItCount Rewards. Program members must select that they want to earn Rapid Rewards points and provide their Rapid Rewards number. Members can earn one Rapid Rewards point per gallon of gas, and they’ll also save 5 cents per gallon every day.
12. Refer a friend
If you already have a Southwest Airlines credit card, you can earn bonus Rapid Rewards points for referring friends for the card. You can currently earn 10,000 Rapid Rewards points per successful referral, up to 50,000 points per year. A successful referral is one where the recipient applies for Southwest Airlines credit card through your referral link and is approved for the card. The Chase Refer-A-Friend program for Southwest credit cards allows the referral recipient to choose their favorite among the three personal cards, so they are not locked into the exact card you hold.
Rocketmiles is a hotel booking service that has partnered with numerous loyalty programs to award airline miles for hotel stays. You can potentially earn thousands of Rapid Rewards points for hotel stays you’re already planning. To earn Southwest Rapid Rewards, make sure you select the program name in the search box on the main page.
Rocketmiles will present you with the nightly rate and the total number of Rapid Rewards points that you’ll earn for your stay. In some cases, Rocketmiles charges more than booking with a hotel directly or through an online travel agency. However, it can often be worth checking, in case the additional bonus miles or points outweigh the difference in rate.
14. Purchase Southwest points
The last resort for obtaining 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 only need 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. Sometimes Southwest offers buy points promotions, reducing the cost per point. However, it is still rarely a good deal to buy them.
Below are some common questions about Southwest’s rewards program.
Do Southwest points expire?
Rapid Rewards points do not expire. However, if you choose to close your account, points in your account will be forfeited.
How many Southwest points do you need for a flight?
Southwest prices reward seats dynamically. You may need fewer than 3,000 points for a flight or more than 30,000, depending on the route and fare type.
Can you transfer Southwest points?
Yes. You can transfer up to 60,000 total Rapid Rewards points per day to other program members. To transfer Southwest points, log in to your account, click on Rapid Rewards at the top of the screen and then select Buy or Transfer points under Manage to complete a transfer.
Do I have to pay to transfer Southwest points?
Yes. Points transfers cost $5 for every 500 points transferred, subject to a 2,000-point minimum.
Do Southwest points roll over?
Rapid Rewards points do not expire. Tier-qualifying points and Companion Pass qualifying points do not roll over.
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 be posted to your account up to 30 days after your statement ends, though they often post within two to three business days.
The information related to Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance 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.