How To Use Southwest Dining Rewards to Earn More Points

southwest dining program

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

This article walks 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

Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining Program
Basic information required to sign up for 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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining Program Sign Up
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.

Bonuses offers

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 up to 1000 bonus when visiting participating restaurants within 30 days of joining the program. You’ll earn 500 points for your first visit, 250 for your second visit and 250 for your third visit – all with minimum spends of $25 for each visit. 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!

You will also get a first step bonus of 500 points after you reach your first 1,500 and a thank you bonus of 300 points each time you accrue 1,000 points. This is one of the most generous dining programs we’ve seen!

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 107 participating restaurants within 30 miles. Most of the restaurants listed were smaller local restaurants rather than chain locations.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining Program Restaurant Search
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:

  • Buca di Beppo
  • 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 - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card, which is currently offering a 60,000 point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The card earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more. Enjoy a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, and other travel benefits such as excellent travel insurance coverage, including car rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a very rewarding card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This premium card will get you access to 1,300+ airport lounges. as well as a number of other card benefits. 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. As an extra bonus, until 12/31/21, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit.

Earn big with this card, earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® card - A solid, no annual fee card that earns you a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 5% cash-back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, and 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Then earn 3% cash-back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash-back on all other purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - this is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year; as well as a number of other benefits.

Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, plus 1x on all other purchases — with no limit to the amount you can earn. All for an annual fee of $95.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card - Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

This no annual fee business card earns up to 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, plus 2% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card - Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase made for your business.

Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. There's no annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Cards

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!

Frequently asked questions

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.

Caroline Lupini

About Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini always enjoyed traveling, but it became her goal to do as much as possible after a 3-week trip around Europe in 2011. In March 2014, Caroline left her job and embarked on nearly full-time travels.  As a frequent traveler, frequent flyer miles have played a large role in planning her trips. Caroline has enjoyed discovering the ins and outs of how to maximize different types of miles, hotel points, and transferable points currencies.

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