11 ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

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If you’re familiar with the best ways to use Southwest points, you may be clamoring to earn them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

You have stumbled upon the correct article. There are many ways to accrue them in a hurry (like, hundreds of thousands of them, with marginal effort). The fastest way, of course, is to open a Southwest credit card or two — but a few other ways are a bit unexpected.

Let’s examine how to earn Southwest points to prepare you for a nearly free vacation when you’re ready to travel again.

You can use Southwest points to fly to the beautiful islands of Hawaii! (Photo by photopmh/Shutterstock)

Using a Southwest credit card

Currently, all Southwest personal cards come with up to 80,000 Southwest points after meeting tiered spending requirements. You’ll get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. And you’ll earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening with the following cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

These are some of the best offers we’ve ever seen on these cards, and they are by far the fastest way to earn Southwest points.

There are also excellent offers on the Southwest business cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – 60,000 Southwest points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card – 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

To boot, all of these sign-up bonuses qualify toward the 125,000-point requirement to earn the holy grail of travel, the Southwest Companion Pass. With it, you can bring along a friend or family member every time you fly for just the cost of taxes and fees. You can reuse it an infinite number of times until it expires.

When you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll enjoy its benefits for the remainder of the year you earned it in through the end of the following year. So if you were to earn it any time in 2021 (the earlier the better), the Companion Pass would be good until December 31, 2022.

Note: You can only hold one Southwest personal card at a time — however, you can open multiple Southwest small business cards in tandem with your personal cards. This is a great way to earn 150,000+ points with ease.

Southwest credit card referral bonuses

If you already have a Chase Southwest credit card, you can refer friends to earn up to 50,000 points per year. You’ll get 10,000 points every time someone who applies through your unique referral link is approved for the card (no, you won’t get points just because they apply).

Note that your referral link is valid for any Southwest card — not just the card you actually have. For example, if you’ve got the Southwest Plus card, but your friend wants to open the Southwest Priority, they can apply through your link, and you’ll still get 10,000 Southwest points.

Online shopping through the Rapid Reward shopping portal

The Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal is a fantastic way to earn extra points for any online purchases you planned to make anyway. These points do count toward earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, too. So if you’re near to earning the Companion pass (and it’s really not difficult), it could be worth making your purchases through the Rapid Rewards portal instead of another shopping portal that perhaps offers a higher return on spending!

The portal works like any other. Just start your online shopping journey here, find the merchant you want, and you’ll be taken to the official store website. Shop like normal, and you’ll receive bonus Southwest points in your Southwest account once you make your purchase.

We’ve got a great step-by-step guide if you need deeper instruction.

Spending on Southwest Rapid Reward Dining

Another way to earn Southwest points without changing your lifestyle is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program. You can enroll in the program here.

All you need to do is link a credit card (it doesn’t have to be a Southwest credit card — you can link any card, despite the misleading landing page), then pay with that card at participating local restaurants to earn Southwest points. The points you earn are in addition to any credit card rewards you earn. For example, you could link your Amex Delta credit card, and simultaneously earn Delta and Southwest points for your purchase!

If you’re near a city, you should have no shortage of participating restaurants near you. I’ve actually found that dining programs like this have spurred me to try new restaurants just to score some bonus points!

Fly Southwest

Southwest will reward you with points whenever you buy a ticket and fly with them (you won’t earn points for booking award flights). The rate at which you earn points depends on the fare you book:

  • Wanna Get Away: 6 points per dollar
  • Anytime: 8 points per dollar
  • Business Select: 12 points per dollar

And, if you have Southwest elite status, you’ll earn bonus points, as well:

  • A-List: 25% more points
  • A-List Preferred: 100% more points

We estimate Southwest points value to be 1.5 cents each. So earning 6 points per dollar on your ticket is like getting 9% back toward Southwest flights.

Book hotels with Southwest Hotels and Rocketmiles

Both Southwest Hotels and Rocketmiles are sites that offer potentially tons of Southwest points per night on certain stays.

You’ll have to search both sites for the best deal — the winner seems to be a grab bag depending on your dates. Both sites have the option to “boost” the rewards you earn: That is, pay a little bit more to earn thousands more miles. Southwest tends to win this battle most of the time. A quick search shows that you can effectively buy Southwest points for as little as 1.8 cents each, which is 1.2 cents less than you can normally buy them for.

In other words, Southwest Hotels and Rocketmiles could potentially be a good way to buy Southwest points at a discount, even if you don’t plan to stay at the hotel you book. You can just check-in, swipe your key card, and go home.

At the moment, though, you shouldn’t need to buy points. Southwest credit cards are offering monster sign-up bonuses!

Here’s a post detailing when you should book with Rocketmiles instead of directly with the hotel.

Book a car rental through Southwest

If you’re a road warrior, you’ll be loving the fact that Southwest partners with the vast majority of car rental agencies. We’ve compiled a quick chart to show you the Southwest points you can expect to earn from each.

Bonus points earnedAdditional terms 
Alamo600 points at participating worldwide locationsMust request points at check-in. A flight is not required to receive points except in the case where the member has multiple rentals on consecutive days in the same market. Bonus points will not be issued for prior rentals older than six months.
Avis600 points at participating worldwide airport locationsMust request points at check-in. Frequent Flyer surcharge of up to $1.00 per day may apply.
Budget600 points at participating worldwide airport locationsMust request points at check-in. Frequent Flyer surcharge of up to $1.00 per day may apply.
Dollar600 points at participating worldwide locationsMust request points at check-in. A flight is not required to receive points. Industry discount rates, tour rates and complimentary rentals do not qualify for points.
Hertz600 points at participating worldwide locationsMust request points at check-in. A flight is not required to receive points. Use discount number CDP 205418 to get additional benefits.
National600 points per qualifying rental at participating worldwide locationsMust request points at check-in. A flight is not required in order to receive points.
Payless600 points at participating airport locations Must request points at check-in. Frequent Flyer surcharge of $1.50 per day, up to $7.50 per rental may apply.
Thrifty600 points at participating worldwide locations Must request points at check-in. Can also earn 600 points after three parking visits at a Thrifty airport parking location (must be at the same location within 12 months); U.S. only. 

Book vacation package through Southwest Vacations

Southwest Vacations is a service that allows you to book either flights and hotel or flights and car rental through the Southwest site.

Per the Southwest Vacations site: “Members traveling on a Southwest Vacations package will accrue points based on the air portion of the package. From time to time, Southwest Vacations will also run promotions to earn additional Rapid Rewards points on the land portion of the package.”

If your motivation for booking a Southwest Vacation package is to earn Southwest points, you’re almost certainly better off booking your Southwest flights separately, and then perusing the above Southwest Hotels site to maximize your points earning.

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest

Southwest is a Chase transfer partner — one of the most popular transfer partners, in fact. When you have a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can instantly convert Chase points into Southwest points at a 1:1 ratio.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with a 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

There are tons of ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. By extension, all of these ways are essentially ways to earn Southwest points, too!

Note that transferring Chase points to Southwest does not count toward the Southwest Companion Pass. You can’t transfer 125,000 Chase points to Southwest and immediately earn the best deal in travel!

Transfer points from Marriott

You can transfer Marriott points to Southwest at a ratio of 3:1 (3 Marriott points = 1 Southwest point). However, when you transfer Marriott points in increments of 60,000, you’ll magically receive an extra 5,000 Southwest points. Put simply, 60,000 Marriott points will net you 25,000 Southwest points.

I wouldn’t recommend using your Marriott points this way. We value Southwest points at 1.5 cents each. And we value Marriott points at 0.8 cents each. So 60,000 Marriott points are worth $480, while 25,000 Southwest points are worth $375.

Buy Southwest points

Another less-than-recommended way to earn Southwest points is to simply buy them. Only in a few situations is this a good idea, namely if you need to top up your account with just a few thousand points to reach the points you need for a specific flight. And even in that scenario, you likely have Chase points you can transfer!

We always urge you to do the math before you buy. If you’re not sure whether or not your particular scenario warrants purchasing Southwest points, read our guide to guide to buying Southwest points. We explain everything and even give you screenshots to help you along.

Bottom line

Wondering how to get Southwest points quickly? You can transfer Chase points at a 1:1 ratio, you can dine at certain restaurants, you can shop online, you can open any of the best Southwest credit cards, and lots more.

Featured image by Fominayaphoto/Shutterstock.

Sarah Hostetler is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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