How To Use Southwest Dining Rewards to Maximize Points [2017]

southwest dining program

Earning enough frequent flyer miles to make a Southwest Airlines reward redemption can be challenging, but there are several strategies that can help you earn miles and points faster for no additional cost. One of these methods involves signing up for an airline or hotel’s dining rewards program.

Today I’ll walk you through the Southwest dining program to show you how it works and the types of point bonuses you can expect.

How To Join/Log in & Basics of Using The Program

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Basic information required to enroll in the dining program for Southwest.

Rapid Rewards Dining requires you to enter basic information about yourself, register your Southwest Rapid Rewards number, and create a separate login for the reward program.

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You will also need to create login information and link your Rapid Rewards account.

You will also need to link a credit card to your profile at the time of joining – don’t worry, you won’t be charged for anything!

Earning extra rewards works like this: whenever you use a card linked to your profile at a participating restaurant, you will earn bonus points based on the cost of your meal, including tax and tip. It won’t require registering your meal after the fact or keeping track of receipts – everything is automatic.

After your meal is over, you’ll have a chance to review your experience for 10 more Southwest points.

You can have a maximum of 6 credit cards linked to your profile, so anytime you use any of those cards for dining you will automatically earn rewards.

Southwest’s dining portal is a bit different than some other airlines’ because the number of bonus points earned doesn’t vary between restaurants. You’ll earn 3 bonus points per dollar spent at participating restaurants when you opt in to email notifications from Rapid Rewards Dining.

You’ll only earn 1 bonus Rapid Reward point per $2 spent if you don’t opt in to email notifications.

Intro Bonuses

It’s often possible to earn an introductory bonus for joining the dining program and completing specific requirements within a specified time period.

The current bonus available is for 300 bonus points after visiting a participating restaurant and spending $25 within 30 days of joining the program. You’ll also need to review your experience within 30 days of dining.

In the past, these bonuses have gone as high as 2,000 Rapid Rewards points! However, you’re probably better off joining now so you can earn 3 points for every dollar right away, instead of waiting for a sign-up bonus that may never return!

Example Restaurants

As mentioned above, the number of rewards earned doesn’t vary by dining experience. Grab a quick bite or dine at a fine establishment; all that matters is that the restaurant is participating in the program.

When I did a search for restaurants near Boulder, CO, the dining portal listed 140 participating restaurants within 30 miles. Most of the restaurants listed were smaller local restaurants rather than chain locations.

A few of the restaurant options in Boulder, CO where you can earn bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
A few of the restaurant options in Boulder, CO, where you can earn Southwest bonus points.

There were a few chain options listed, but in some cases, not every location participated. Here are a few examples:

  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Burger King
  • Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse

Using Credit Cards To Earn Extra Points

The points you earn through the Southwest Dining program are all in addition to the regular credit card rewards you would earn.

If you are mainly interested in Southwest points, you should consider using a card that earns Southwest rewards directly or one that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.

Below is a list of cards that earn these reward currencies.

Hot Tip: Using a card that earns 2x dining points is a great way to boost your earned miles and points even more!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

🌟 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

More Info?
> 9 Best Ways To Use Your Sign Up Bonus!
  • 50,000 bonus points.
  • That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through
    Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $95
  • Our Review
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

More Info?
> We Researched All The Benefits of This Card!
  • Earn $150 bonus
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Convert your cash-back to points if you also have the
    Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card!
  • Our Review
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Our Review
Chase Freedom®
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases outside of rotating 5% bonus categories
  • No annual fee
  • Our Review

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
  • Earn 3 points per $1 in select categories
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Our Review
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Earn 5% cash back in select business categories
  • No Annual Fee
  • Our Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Cards

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months
  • An extra 6,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary
  • 2X points per $1 on Southwest® purchases (plus purchases with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Our Review
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months
  • An extra 3,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary
  • 2X points per $1 on Southwest® purchases (plus purchases with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners)
  • Annual fee: $69
  • Our Review

Hot Tip: Check out the benefits of the best Southwest credit cards!


Joining Rapid Rewards Dining and linking your credit cards is a fast, easy, and convenient way to earn more Southwest points when you are dining out. You might also enjoy using the shopping portal as well to really maximize rewards.

Pair this with a credit card that earns a category bonus for spending at restaurants, and you’ll be ready to redeem your next Southwest award in no time!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Here are 9 best ways to use 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (including round-trip to Hawaii for 2 people!)

And – discover 10 of the most valuable benefits you’ll get access to as a cardholder


What are Southwest Rapid Rewards points?
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are the points you can earn and redeem in Southwest’s frequent flyer program.

How many points can I earn through the Southwest Dining Portal?
The number of points you can earn through Southwest Rapid Rewards dining depends on how much you spend at participating restaurants. You can earn up to 3 bonus points per dollar spent at participating restaurants every time you dine.

Do I need to submit my receipt in order to earn points?
No, after you enroll in the program and link a credit card, all you need to do is spend money on your linked credit card at a participating restaurant and your points will be credited automatically.

Can my spouse earn points on my account?
As long as the credit card used to pay for the meal is linked to your account, the points should credit properly.

Is there a limit to the number of points I can earn?
No, there isn’t a limit to the number of points you can earn.

Do the points earned through the dining portal count toward the Southwest Companion Pass?
Great news – yes! The 3 points per dollar spent will count toward your Southwest Companion Pass. Unfortunately, any bonus points earned when signing up will not.