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How To Maximize Your Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Through Car Rentals

Katie Seemann's image
Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

346 Published Articles 54 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 29

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3228 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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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? We’ll show you how.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

We love the Rapid Rewards loyalty program because it’s 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 points 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 through Southwest comes with guaranteed low prices and no cancellation fees. Plus, you earn Rapid Rewards points with each rental.

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 Credit: Southwest

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 Credit: Southwest

3. Next, you will see a grid showing all of your options. Each car rental company is listed on 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 Credit: Southwest

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 Credit: Southwest

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. Finally, click the yellow Reserve button to complete your reservation.

Renting a car through Southwest
Image Credit: Southwest

Bottom Line: 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.

You can also rent from Fox and Enterprise through Southwest, but you won’t earn any Southwest points.

Southwest Car Rentals non partner
You can book a car with an agency that doesn’t partner with Southwest but you won’t earn points! The red box in the image above is where you’ll see how many points you’ll earn if you earn points with the rental. Image Credit: Southwest

Standard Car Rental Offers Plus Bonuses

You can earn 600 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 points earned 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’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide (blackout dates may apply).

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 bonus Ultimate Rewards points.

Avis

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide (blackout dates may apply).

You’ll need to supply your Rapid Rewards number at the time of booking and a frequent flyer surcharge of up to $1 per day may apply.

Bonus Offer: Now through January 31, 2022, earn up to 2,400 points and save up to 35% on qualifying rentals by using coupon code MUAA042 and AWD (Avis Worldwide Discount) code K024798.

  • 1-2 day rentals: Earn 600 points and save up to 35%
  • 3-6 day rentals: Earn 1,200 points and save up to 35%
  • 7+ day rentals: Earn 2,400 points and save up to 35%

Budget

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide (blackout dates may apply).

You’ll need to supply your Rapid Rewards number at the time of booking and a frequent flyer surcharge of up to $1 per day may apply.

Bonus Offer: For qualifying car rentals through January 31, 2022, earn up to 2,400 points and save up to 30%.

  • 1-2 day rentals: Earn 600 points and save up to 30%
  • 3-7 day rentals: Earn 1,200 points and save up to 30%
  • 8+ day rentals: Earn 2,400 points and save up to 30%

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

Dollar

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide (blackout dates may apply). You need to supply your Rapid Rewards number at the time of rental.

Bonus Offer: Now through January 31, 2022, earn up to 1,200 points and save up to 35% on qualifying rentals by using corporate discount code 3055251 and promotion code 101611.

  • 1-2 day rentals: Earn 600 points
  • 3+ rentals: Earn 1,200 points

Hertz

You’ll earn 600 points on each eligible car rental at participating locations worldwide (blackout dates may apply). Rentals using industry discount rates, tour rates, or complimentary rentals will not earn any Southwest points. You need to supply your Rapid Rewards number at the time of rental.

Bonus Offer: For qualifying car rentals through January 31, 2022, earn up to 2,400 points.

  • 1-2 day rentals: Earn 600 points
  • 3-6 day rentals: Earn 1,200 points
  • 7+ day rentals: Earn 2,400 points

Hot Tip: When renting a car, be sure to pay with a credit card with car 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 bonus Ultimate Rewards points when paying with this card!

National

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide by requesting Rapid Rewards points at the time of rental or reservation (blackout dates may apply). A flight may be required in order to rent if you’ve got more than 1 rental on the same day or on consecutive days in the same market.

Payless Car Rental

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide by requesting Rapid Rewards points at the time of rental or reservation (blackout dates may apply).

A frequent flyer surcharge of up to $1.50 per day (with a maximum of $7.50 per rental) may apply.

Bonus Offer: Now through January 31, 2022, earn up to 1,200 points and save up to 10% on qualifying rentals.

Thrifty

You’ll earn 600 points on each car rental at participating locations worldwide by requesting Rapid Rewards points at the time of check-in (blackout dates may apply). You can also earn an additional 600 Rapid Rewards points after 3 parking visits at a single Thrifty airport parking location within a 12 month period.

Bonus Offer: For qualifying car rentals through January 31, 2022, earn up to 1,200 points and save up to 10% on base rates.

  • 1-2 day rentals: Earn 600 points and save up to 10%
  • 3+ day rentals: Earn 1,200 points and save up to 10%

Bottom Line: View Southwest’s rental car page for the most up-to-date rental car points offers or to book a rental car through Southwest.

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?

We 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 1.3 cents per point. That makes the 600 to 2,400 bonus points you can earn valued between ~$8 to ~$31.

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

SCROLL FOR MORE
Car Rental AgencySouthwest.com Standard RateSouthwest.com Promo RatePriceline.comCar Rental Agency’s Own Website – Pay LaterCar Rental Agency’s Own Website – Pay At Time Of Booking
Alamo$555N/A$524$524$500
Avis$684$622$640$523$428
Budget$678$616$647$518$427
Dollar$488$488$488$488N/A
Hertz$555$501$555$555N/A
National$684N/A$649$649N/A
Payless$640$582$611$640$611
Thrifty$482$439$482$483N/A

*The least expensive option for each company is in bold.

As you can see, prices are all over the map. In some instances, like for Dollar, Hertz, Payless, and Thrifty, the Southwest promo price was lower than other prices (or the same in the case of Dollar) so it would make sense to book through Southwest to earn the extra points and save some money.

Hot Tip: Not sure what credit card to use? Check out this list of the best credit cards for Southwest Airlines flyers.

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 its 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 agency’s own websites, making car rentals through Southwest a smart choice for anyone looking to earn lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards points!

Frequently Asked Questions

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

No, Southwest gift cards 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?

Yes, you can as long as you hold a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. Go to Southwest.com and click on Rapid Rewards > Redeem Points for Gift Cards & More. However, the value you’ll get isn’t great, so it’s not a recommended way to use your Rapid Rewards points.

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 its website and click on Car > Book a Car in the upper right-hand menu.

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.

Katie Seemann's image

About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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