How To Maximize Your Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Through Car Rentals

Renting a car through Southwest Airlines

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If you are a frequent flyer of Southwest Airlines, you’ll want to know all the ways you can earn Rapid Rewards points! Earning points while doing something you have to do anyway is key to maximizing your earning potential!

Did you know you can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points just for renting a car?

In this post, I’ll show you how to earn bonus Rapid Rewards points by renting a car through Southwest.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

If you aren’t familiar with Rapid Rewards, it is the loyalty program for Southwest Airlines. I love this program because it is so easy to use. If Southwest has a flight available to book with cash, you can book that flight with points with no blackout dates!

There are lots of easy ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards without flying, and renting a car is one of them. Each rental through Southwest will earn 600 to 2,400 Rapid Rewards points.

Benefits of Renting a Car Through Southwest

In addition to having a simple to navigate interface, renting a car on Southwest is risk-free.

There are no cancellation fees, and they offer a low-price guarantee. Plus, you earn Rapid Rewards points with each rental.

Hot Tip: The first 600 points you earn from each car rental WILL count toward A-List and A-List Preferred Status, as well as Companion Pass qualification.

How to Rent a Car Through Southwest

1. On Southwest’s home page, click on Car in the top search bar. Then select Book A Car in the drop-down menu.

How To Rent A Car On Southwest
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

2. Enter your pick up and drop off locations, dates, and times. Click on the drop-down menu at the bottom of the search box to access advanced search options including rental company and vehicle size. Then, click the yellow Search button to continue.

Southwest Car- Advanced Search
Click on the drop down to show advanced search options like the type of vehicle and car rental agency. Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

3. Next, you will see a grid showing all of your options. Each car rental company is listed at the left side of the grid, and the types of cars available are listed across the top. The large number is the price per day, but you can also see the total price including taxes listed underneath.

Southwest Car Rentals
Southwest displays all of your car rental options in an easy to read grid. Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

4. Click on each box for more information about the rental, including how many Rapid Rewards points you’ll earn. Once you’re happy with your selection, click the yellow Continue button.

Renting a car through Southwest
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

5. Now, you can review your selection and add extras like a car seat or ski rack.

6. Click the yellow Continue button, then enter your driver details. You will not have to enter payment details, as all car rentals booked through Southwest are paid once the car is returned.

Renting a car through Southwest
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

7. Then click the yellow Reserve button to complete your reservation.

Bottom Line: Remember, you won’t need to prepay for car rentals when booking through Southwest. Instead, you’ll pay when you return the car.

Car Rental Partners

Southwest partners with 8 different car rental agencies.

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

Car Rental Offers

You can earn 600 to 1,200 bonus Rapid Rewards points for each qualifying car rental booked through Southwest Airlines.

Your Rapid Rewards number must be tied to the reservation to earn points, and some partners have coupon codes or other requirements to earn points.

Hot Tip: Any amount of points over 600 per rental are considered bonus points. That means those points do NOT count toward A-List or A-List Preferred status or Companion Pass qualification.

Alamo

You can earn up to 1,200 points on each car rental at participating U.S. locations through January 31, 2019. (Blackout dates may apply.)

  • 1 to 2 day rentals = 600 bonus points
  • 3+ day rentals = 1,200 bonus points

This offer is valid for all car types. Book here using Contract ID 7016141.

Your Rapid Rewards number must be provided at the time of booking or time of check-in and reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. If you happen to have multiple car rentals on the same or consecutive days in the same market, a flight within 24 hours of the rental is required to earn points.

Hot Tip: Booking your car rental with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card will earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points! These points can be easily transferred to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.

Avis

Now through January 31, 2019, you can earn up to 2,400 points on each car rental at participating U.S. airport locations (blackout dates may apply.) Plus, you can save up to 35% on the cost of your rental.

  • 1 to 2 day rentals = 600 bonus points
  • 3 to 6 day rentals = 1,200 bonus points
  • 7+ days = 2,400 bonus points

Book here and use MUAA042 in the coupon code field and K024700 in the Avis Worldwide (AWD) field. This offer is valid on daily, weekly, and weekend rates for all car groups and a reservation is required.

Budget

Earn up to 2,400 points on each car rental through January 31, 2019. (Blackout dates may apply.) Plus save up to 35% on the cost of your rental.

  • 1 to 2 day rentals = 600 bonus points
  • 3 to 7 day rentals = 1,200 bonus points
  • 8+ days = 2,400 bonus points

This offer is valid for all car groups at any participating airport Budget locations in the United States. Reservations must be made in advance here with coupon code MUAZ017 and Budget Customer Discount Code U0727091 to receive bonus points.

Car rental through Southwest
It’s easy to earn bonus Rapid Rewards points when renting a car. Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Dollar

Earn 1,200 Rapid Rewards points, plus save up to 10% off base rates when renting a mid-size or larger vehicle through January 31, 2019. Book your reservation in advance here using promotion code 100389.

Hertz

Earn up to 2,400 points and save up to 35% on base rates on each car rental through January 31, 2019. A reservation is required. Book through Southwest using promotion Code 159062 and Corporate Discount Number (CDP) 205418.

  • 1 to 2 day rentals = 600 bonus points
  • 3 to 6 day rentals = 1,200 bonus points
  • 7+ days = 2,400 bonus points

Hot Tip: When renting a car, be sure to pay with a credit card that has great rental insurance coverage like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card provides primary rental insurance including up to $75,000 for theft or collision damage. Be sure to decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card to qualify. Plus, you will earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points when paying with this card!

National

Earn up to 2,400 points and save up to 35% on each car rental at participating U.S. locations through January 31, 2019. Book a qualifying reservation here using contract ID 5030510 and supply your Rapid Rewards number at the time of booking to earn your bonus points.

  • 1-day rental = 600 bonus points
  • 2 to 3 day rentals = 1,200 bonus points
  • 4 to 6 day rentals = 1,800 bonus points
  • 7+ days = 2,400 bonus points

Payless Car Rental

Earn 1,200 Rapid Rewards points and save 10% on your next rental booked and completed by January 31, 2019. Book a qualifying reservation here and use promotion code SWP060.

This offer is only valid for U.S. residents at participating airport Payless Car Rental locations in the U.S. and Canada. The vehicle must be returned to the pickup location, as this offer is not valid on one-way rentals.

Thrifty

Earn 1,200 Rapid Rewards points and save 10% off of base rates when renting a mid-size or larger vehicle through January 31, 2019. Book here using promotion code 100389. Advanced reservations are required, and blackout dates may apply.

Bottom Line: To view the most up-to-date rental car points offers or to book a rental car through Southwest, go here.

How do Southwest Car Rental Prices Compare?

While all these bonus Rapid Rewards points are great, does it make sense to book your rental car through Southwest?

I made some price comparisons to see where Southwest stacked up to other car rental websites. Keep in mind, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are valued right around 1.5 cents per point. That makes the 600 to 2,400 bonus points you can earn valued between $9 to $36.

I searched for a week-long economy-class rental on Southwest.com, Priceline, and all of the car rental agencies’ websites, and here’s what I found.

Car Rental AgencySouthwest.comPriceline.comCar Rental Agency’s Own Website – Pay LaterCar Rental Agency’s Own Website – Pay At Time Of Booking
Alamo$421.96$421.96$421.96$403.44
Avis$571.76$571.76$455.90$413.26
Budget$429.62$429.62$429.62$384.53
Dollar$379.79$379.79$379.79$346.99
HertzN/A$422.06$422.06N/A
National$570.56$570.56$570.56N/A
PaylessN/AN/AN/AN/A
Thrifty$379.79$379.79$379.79$330.58

*Payless Car Rental is not available in all areas and wasn’t available for the location of this search.

As you can see, Southwest car rental prices match those offered on Priceline and all but one of the car rental agency’s websites. (Avis is the only site that offered more discounts by booking direct.)

However, many car rental agencies offer a discount if you are willing to pay up front. Booking upfront means your rental would be non-refundable, but sometimes, the price savings can be worth the risk!

One thing to note is that Priceline offers Express Deals. These are opaque bookings in which the car rental agency is hidden until booking is complete. This type of booking can offer huge savings if you don’t care who you are renting from and don’t mind a pay-now reservation that can’t be changed. In the example above, the Priceline Express Deal for a week-long economy rental was $360.12.

Final Thoughts

Earning points through activities other than flying is key to really maximizing your earning potential.

Southwest offers bonus points for each qualified car rental you make with their 8 partners. Each booking you make through Southwest will earn 600 to 2,400 bonus Rapid Rewards points.

If you are looking for a rental with free cancellation, Southwest’s prices are on par with OTAs like Priceline and even the car rental agencies own websites, making Southwest car rentals a smart choice for anyone looking to earn lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards points!

FAQ

Can I use a Southwest gift card to pay for a car rental?

No, Southwest gift card and Southwest LUV vouchers can’t be used to pay for rental cars.

Can I use rapid rewards points to pay for my car rental?

No, you can’t pay for your rental car using Southwest Rapid Rewards points. It’s best to use a credit card that offers great insurance coverage and bonus points for travel. The Chase Sapphire Reserve includes primary car rental insurance and earns 3x points on car rentals!

Which car rental agencies can I use when I book through Southwest?

Southwest has 8 car rental partners: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Hertz, National, Payless Car Rental, and Thrifty Car Rental.

How do I book A rental car through Southwest?

To book a rental car through Southwest, go to their website and click on Car in the upper right-hand menu or click here.

Do points earned from car rentals count towards A-List status or Companion Pass?

The first 600 points earned from each car rental booked through Southwest will count towards A-List and A-List Preferred status and Companion Pass qualification. Any points earned over 600 are considered bonus points and will not count towards any status.

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1 comment

  1. A word of caution: I have been renting cars through Southwest regularly (20X per year) for 4 years. I used to love the Alamo promos but last year the points stopped posting automatically (you have to email them), so I switched to Dollar. No issues with points posting, usually within 48 hours.

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