Despite not flying outside of the Americas, Southwest is still 1 of the largest air carriers in the world by multiple metrics. In fact, Southwest is the world’s fourth-largest airline by fleet size, seventh-largest by revenue, and third-largest by number of passengers carried annually.
And while most of its routes are operated within the U.S., it has an extensive route network to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean as well. This is all on top of offering 2 free checked bags on every flight and breaking customer satisfaction records year-after-year.
The airline has an award-winning loyalty program, too. Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed on any Southwest flight with no blackout dates, giving you the ultimate flexibility to travel whenever you’d like. Coupled with the airline’s Companion Pass benefit, you can bring a companion on any Southwest flight you choose to fly — whether booked with points or cash.
So if you love to fly for free (and let’s be real: who doesn’t?!), join the Southwest Rapid Rewards loyalty program. You’ll earn points for flights, shopping, dining, and more which can be redeemed for free travel.
We get it: earning points sounds daunting. In this guide, we’ll show you how it’s possible to earn over 100,000 Rapid Rewards points in less than 90 days. Follow this guide closely, and you’ll find ways to stock your Rapid Rewards account with freshly minted Rapid Rewards points so you can travel for the great price of free.
Table of contents
- Why Would You Want to Earn 100,000 Points?
- Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
- Use Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
- Transfer Points From Diners Club International
- Use Rental Car Partners
- Rapid Rewards Dining
- Switch Home Utility Providers
- Book Hotel Rooms Through Southwest Hotels
- Refinance Student Loans with SoFi
- Shop Through Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Using Those 100,000+ Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- Final Thoughts
Table of Contents
- Why Would You Want to Earn 100,000 Points?
- 1. Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
- 2. Use Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
- 3. Transfer Points From Diners Club International
- 4. Use Rental Car Partners
- 5. Rapid Rewards Dining
- 6. Switch Home Utility Providers
- 7. Book Hotel Rooms Through Southwest Hotels
- 8. Refinance Student Loans with SoFi
- 9. Shop Through Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Using Those 100,000+ Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- Final Thoughts
Why Would You Want to Earn 100,000 Points?
Before we dive into earning, let’s address the elephant in the room: why would anyone want 100,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points?
Simple: during peak travel season, Southwest has more than 4,000 daily departures from cities across the U.S. That’s a ton of flight options from which to choose to help you redeem all your Rapid Rewards points! You can fly these routes to visit family, attend conferences, or take a much-needed vacation.
Even better, Rapid Rewards redemptions don’t have blackout dates, so you can use your points on any Southwest route on any day you’d like.
And remember: those 100,000+ points will really come in handy when using the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass! It effectively doubles the value of your Rapid Rewards balance when you travel with a companion.
1. Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
One of the best ways to get your hands on Rapid Rewards points is by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that you won’t lose points in the transfer process.
You can use 1 of 6 different Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards to earn tons of points. To transfer points to your Rapid Rewards account, you will need to have 1 of the 3 premium Ultimate Rewards cards (i.e. 1 with an annual fee). Note that both personal and business Ultimate Rewards cards are available.
Hot Tip: You can also book Southwest flights through the Chase Travel Portal online or by calling the number on the back of your credit card. This may make more sense for Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card members as they can redeem at 1.5 cents per point towards paid flights. Further, you’ll actually earn Rapid Rewards on flights booked through this portal.
Just note that point transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards do not count towards Companion Pass qualification.
Here’s a look at some of the best Chase’s Ultimate Rewards-earning cards:
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. |
This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee.|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 1.5% cash-back on all purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.|
Recommended Chase Cards (Business)
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and comes with a large 80,000 sign up bonus after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services.|
Hot Tip: Check out our Transfer Partner Tool for quick calculations on point transfers.
2. Use Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
Southwest Airlines has partnered with Chase to offer Southwest Airlines-branded credit cards.
Note that as of April 5, 2018, you cannot have more than 1 Southwest consumer card at a time. Further, you also cannot get a second card if you already have received a new cardmember bonus on either card in the last 24 months.
Thankfully, this rule does not apply to the Southwest business card — so consider getting both a personal and business Southwest credit card if you want to earn a lump sum of Rapid Rewards points at once.
Thankfully, points earned with Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards do count towards Companion Pass qualification.
Here’s a look at Chase’s Southwest personal and business co-branded credit cards:
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card|
Unfortunately, you cannot earn bonus Rapid Rewards points for adding authorized users to these cards.
Hot Tip: Check out the valuable benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.
3. Transfer Points From Diners Club International
Are you a Diners Club member? While not the most well-known rewards program, Diners Club points can also be transferred to Southwest Airlines.
Diners Club members earn a Club Rewards point for every $1 spent on their card. Their high-end card even earns 3x points per $1 spent in categories such as grocery stores, restaurants, and drug stores.
You’ll receive 1,200 Rapid Rewards points for every 1,500 Club Rewards points transferred, meaning that the transfer ratio is less than that of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Unfortunately, it has been a few years since Diners Club accepted applications for new cardmembers, but if you have one, you can take advantage of their rewards program to help you book Southwest award flights.
4. Use Rental Car Partners
Earn 600 points per rental when you book a car through Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, or Thrifty. If you rent a car a few times per year, it’s possible to add approximately 2,000 points to your Rapid Rewards account!
Even better, Southwest frequently has special offers for its rental car partners. We’ve seen offers that give Rapid Rewards members 1,200 to 2,400 bonus points per rental and include up to 35% off rentals. These offers come and go, though, so make sure to check for them frequently.
5. Rapid Rewards Dining
Enroll in the Southwest Dining Rewards program and you’ll earn Rapid Rewards points for dining out at participating restaurants. You can link up to 6 credit and debit cards to your account to maximize your potential!
You can earn up to 3 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants – just sign up, link a credit card, and opt-in to email notifications. If you don’t opt-in to email notifications, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent.
Want to earn even more points? Leave a review after you dine and you’ll earn 10 bonus Rapid Rewards points. Plus, periodic sign-up bonuses give you the opportunity to earn more points upon enrollment. Currently, you’ll earn 1,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $25 or more at a participating restaurant and leave a review within 30 days of signing up.
Plus, you can earn even more points by completing the following requirements:
- First Step Bonus: earn 500 bonus points after earning 1,500 points through the dining program
- Thank You Bonus: earn 300 bonus points every time you earn 1,000 points through the dining program
Of course, the points you earn in Southwest Dining Rewards are on top of any points you earn just for paying with rewards credit cards. This means if you use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn 2x points per $1 on top of the points you’d earn from the dining program. Check our full list of credit cards that earn bonus points on dining purchases.
6. Switch Home Utility Providers
Like many airlines, Southwest partners with alternative home utility providers to offer points to its customers.
You’ll generally earn a one-time bonus when switching to a Southwest home utility partner and bonus points for each dollar you spend on monthly utilities. Here’s a look at Southwest’s current lineup of home utility partners:
- Reliant (Texas): 15,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you signup and 500 additional points each month for the next 24 months for a total 0f 27,000 Rapid Rewards points.
- NRG (Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania): 10,000 enrollment bonus points after 2 months of service and 1 point per $1 spent on the supply portion of your bill every month. Rapid Rewards credit cardholders earn an additional 2,500 enrollment bonus points and an additional 1 point per $1 spent on utilities.
Just note that these providers may charge more than your local utility company for your utilities. With that in mind, it may be worth signing up for the welcome bonus and then switching back to your local provider after a few months. Make sure to carefully review your utility bill at the end of each month to see if this is the case.
7. Book Hotel Rooms Through Southwest Hotels
Like rental cars, you can also earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points when booking hotel rooms through the Southwest Hotels portal.
This portal is powered by Booking.com, so you can book millions of hotels through the portal and earn points. Each hotel earns a different number of points, with more expensive hotels usually earning more points. In the example above, you’ll earn 161 points for a $182 stay — this and other example searches lead us to believe that you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent on hotel bookings, sans taxes and fees.
Just note that if you book chain hotels through the portal — think Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott properties — you likely won’t be able to use your elite status benefits or earn hotel points. Most hotel chains require that you book directly through the hotel in order to take advantage of these perks. However, you can try your luck and add your rewards number when you arrive at the hotel.
This can help you make progress towards your 100,000 goal, especially if you have lots of reimbursable business hotel stays coming up. Just make sure to use a credit card that earns bonus points on travel when booking hotels.
8. Refinance Student Loans with SoFi
If you’re looking to refinance your student loans, you may be able to earn up to 50,000 Rapid Rewards points in the process.
Financial startup SoFi is offering 1 Southwest Rapid Rewards point per $2 refinanced, up to 50,000 points. So if you’re refinancing $100,000 in student loans, you can max out the deal and enjoy potentially lower interest rates in the process — especially if you’re refinancing a private loan.
SoFi notes that — at the time of writing this article — it offers fixed rates loans with interest rates between 3.46% APR to 5.98% APR while variable rates range from 1.81% APR to 7.17% APR. Note that AutoPay must be enabled to lock in these rates, and all rates and loans are subject to credit approval and creditworthiness.
This points-earning option might be worthwhile if you’re already considering a student loan refinance. Just make sure to compare SoFi’s rates with other competitors — more likely than not, the points earned aren’t worth paying more in interest.
If the interest rate checks out, this could get you half-way to your 100,000 point goal.
9. Shop Through Rapid Rewards Shopping
Finally, you can use the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal to earn bonus Rapid Rewards points on everyday purchases.
This portal lets you earn bonus points on purchases from hundreds of online merchants. Just sign up for an account and search for the merchant you’d like to make a purchase from on the Rapid Rewards Shopping website. Then, click on the merchant’s name and Southwest will direct you to the merchant’s website to make your purchase as normal. Points earned will show up in your account within 15 days of purchase.
Each merchant has a different points-earning rate, and all points are earned based on how much you spend. For example — at the time of publishing this article — Apple Store purchases are earning 1 point per dollar spent. However, this is subject to change when merchants choose to run a promotion.
Further, Rapid Rewards Shopping frequently offers spend bonuses around holidays and the back-to-school season. For example, the holiday 2019 deal awards 500 points for spending $150, 1,000 points for spending $500, and 3,000 points for spending $3,000. Take advantage of these deals to earn even more points towards your 100,000 goal.
Using Those 100,000+ Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
So, you’ve followed this guide and the points are in your Rapid Rewards account. Nice. Now, you need to choose how to spend them.
The price of Southwest award tickets is pegged directly to the cost of the flight. In our research, we’ve found that Rapid Rewards points are generally worth around 1.4 cents per point when redeemed towards flights.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for redeeming your Rapid Rewards points:
Visit the Big Apple: Southwest Airlines flies from a number of destinations to New York (LGA) and more often than not, you can score an excellent deal. For example, booking a one-way flight from Chicago (MDW) to New York (LGA) 3 months in advance only costs 5,805 Rapid Rewards points.
Go to the Grand Cayman Islands: Ever wanted to visit the beautiful Grand Cayman Islands? You can book a round-trip adventure to this Caribbean island from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for around 5,040 Rapid Rewards points, plus about $90 in taxes and fees. For additional points, you can also start your journey from one of the many other U.S. cities served by Southwest Airlines.
Companion Pass: Earn 110,000 points (125,000 in 2020) in a calendar year, and you’ll get the Companion Pass for the remainder of the year in which you earn it plus the following year. Only certain points qualify, including points earned for:
- Flights (base but not bonus points)
- Rapid Rewards credit card purchases and welcome bonuses
- Southwest Dining
- Shopping portal purchases
This benefit will let you select a companion to travel with you for free on all flights, no matter if they’re booked with cash or points. You can change your Southwest companion up to 3 times per calendar year.
Avoid Booking Business Select Fares
When you fly Business Select, you receive special perks like getting through security quicker, priority boarding, and a free premium drink during the flight! Since you seat yourself on Southwest flights, having access to priority boarding means that you can get a better seat.
However, a Business Select flight from New York (LGA) to Houston (HOU) comes in at 43,730 points when booking 5 months in advance. Alternatively, you can book a Wanna Get Away fare for just 7,148 points — so in most cases, we’d recommend booking the Wanna Get Away fare to save points. You can always purchase priority boarding to secure a better seat.
Southwest Rapid Rewards are some of the easiest U.S. domestic airline points to both earn and redeem. As you’ve learned in this article, racking up your first 100,000 points can be done in less than 90 days.
Want to earn even more points? Check out our complete guide to earning Rapid Rewards points to continue earning points so that you always have a stash available for quick flights out of town.