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Updated September 20, 2018

How to Earn Southwest Points Fast

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You don't need to fly much to earn a TON of Southwest points. Read on for 10+ ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Earn Southwest Points Fast

© tomasdelcoro (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Have enough points? Here are the best ways to redeem Southwest points

Southwest has a great rewards program that offers solid perks for its users. Southwest is also one of the best airlines for finding budget flights throughout North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.

But listen up: the best part is that you don't have to fly to earn a ton of miles.

Follow our tips and you'll be flying with airline points in no time.

Credit Cards

There are a couple of different routes for earning points with credit cards. Chase has both Southwest co-branded cards and travel reward cards, such as the Sapphire Preferred and Reserve, that will transfer points to Southwest.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards (best options)

Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) is one of our favorite rewards programs because it's so versatile and valuable. All Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio (1,000 UR points = 1,000 Rapid Rewards points). Heads up: UR points transfers do NOT count towards the Southwest Companion Pass.

Chase UR points are easier to rack up because of the bonus categories. Chase Sapphire cards give you bonus points on dining and travel purchases. Definitely use them at your favorite dinner spot. Plus, Chase has a great shopping portal to earn even more points. Read on to see our breakdown of your Chase Ultimate Rewards options.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card lets you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.

    Points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has a $0 foreign transaction fee. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

    To start, check out the latest Sapphire Preferred promotion.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
    Apply for Chase Sapphire Reserve
    Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card offers a $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.

    This card earns 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has $0 foreign transaction fees. The card comes with access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select. There is a $450 annual fee.

    If you travel several times a year, you should definitely take a look at the Sapphire Reserve promotion.

  • Ink Business Preferred
    Apply for Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
    Ink Business Preferred lets you earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 80,000 points is worth $1,000 toward travel when you redeem via Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is a $95 annual fee.

    To start, check out the latest Ink Business Preferred promotion.

How many points do you need for a free flight on Southwest? Southwest's award system is cost-based. So how many points needed depends on the cost of the flight. On average, we estimate each Rapid Rewards point to be worth about 1.6-2.0 cent each. This means 10,000 points can be used to redeem a flight that costs around $160 - $200.

Southwest Co-Branded Credit Cards

Southwest has a few options when it comes to their Chase co-branded cards. These are great for earning generous sign-up bonuses and doubling your points on Southwest purchases. You also get a bonus on your card anniversary. Read on to see the breakdown of the Southwest credit cards.

[southwest-rapid-rewards,southwest-rapid-rewards-plus.compare]

Tip: The Companion Pass is easily the biggest perk of a Southwest Rapid Rewards card. You get a Companion Pass when you earn 110,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points. Once you hit that milestone, you get to choose a partner to fly with you on unlimited Southwest flights until the end of the following year. If you fly on points, you are basically doubling their value.

With the sign-up bonus on the cards, you're making progress toward the Companion Pass. Rack up some more points through the dining or shopping program, and you'll have the 110,000 points. This is especially good if you time it right. If you hit that 110,000-point mark in January, you can enjoy the Companion Pass for the rest of the year and the following year.

One downside of these Southwest cards is that they don't offer many extra perks (such as priority boarding). And they don't have any bonus earning categories. If you care more about earning as many points as possible, check out the Ultimate Rewards cards instead.

Eat Out with Southwest Dining

The Southwest Dining program gives you points for eating out at partner restaurants. The process is really simple. Just sign up for Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining and register a credit card. When you pay for a meal at a participating restaurant with that card, you'll earn 1-3X the number of points.

  • Get 1 point per $2 spent for Basic Rapid Rewards Dining members
  • Get 3 points per $1 spent if you opt-in to email notifications
  • New members get a chance to earn bonus points
  • Get 10 more points for each review you write

You can register whichever card you want, it doesn't even have to be a Southwest card. To get even more points, register a card that gives you bonus points for dining, like one of the Chase Sapphire cards.

There are over 1,000 restaurants registered with the program. Just type in your zip code in the website and start eating and earning at the same time.

Are you a Diners Club member? Southwest and Diners Club allow you to transfer points between the two. However, the transfer ratio is 5:4 (5 Diners Club points = 4 Rapid Rewards points). Essentially, you are losing 20% of your points. Consider this option only if you need a few extra rewards points for a flight.

Shop Online

Southwest also has an impressive online shopping portal that gives you great bonuses. Log in to the portal with your Rapid Rewards information and shop away. You can earn 2-6X the points depending on the bonuses being offered by each store.

Check out the "Rewards Rally" and "Offers" for especially good deals. You can even get extra perks like free or expedited shipping.

Just like the Dining program, you don't need to use a specific card. If you do use your Southwest card, you'll earn one point per $1 spent plus whatever points the shopping portal offers.

Fly with Southwest

© Craighton Miller (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Book flights on Southwest and earn points based on the cost of your ticket. You just need to be a Rapid Rewards member. You can book with whichever credit card you have on hand. How many points you earn depends on the level of the flight.

  • Wanna Get Away fare = 6 points / $1
  • Anytime fare = 10 points / $1
  • Business Select fare = 12 points / $1

Wanna Get Away fare is the most budget-like option. Fares are nonrefundable. Anytime fares are refundable and changeable. Business Select gives you more perks, like free drinks and priority boarding.

If you have flown enough to earn elite status with Southwest, your points earnings get bumped up as well.

  • A-List status. This is reached when you take 25 one-way flights with Southwest in a calendar year, or earned 35,000 points. These 35,000 points can't come from sign-up bonuses, unfortunately. Once you hit A-list status, you earn 25% more points for each flight.

    For example, for a $200 Business Select flight, you earn 3,000 points (2,400 points + 600 bonus points).

  • A-List Preferred status. This is reached when you take 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 points. When you get to this status, you earn 100% more points for each flight.

    That $200 Business Select flight will now earn you 4,800 points (2,400 points + 2,400 bonus points).

If you buy a flight with a Southwest card, you earn 2X the points per $1 spent. Those points come in on top of the points you already earn from the flight itself. This means that if you buy a $100 Wanna Get Away flight with your Southwest card, you'll earn:

  • 600 points for being a Rapid Rewards member
  • 200 points for using a Southwest credit card
  • A total of 800 Rapid Rewards points

There are lots of ways to bump up your points earnings through flights. Consider buying a higher level of flight and purchasing with a Southwest credit card to maximize your points.

Why we like Southwest's loyalty program:

  • Southwest's Companion Pass (after reaching 110k points) is one of the best airline travel deals. A companion can fly with you for just taxes & fees on unlimited Southwest flights for the rest of the year, plus the entire next year.
  • Southwest only charges a $5.60 Security Fee each way for domestic award flights.
  • There are many ways to earn points without flying.

Book a Vacation Package

Southwest Vacations can set you up with a great vacation package that will also earn you points. You can even specify which parts of the vacation you want included: hotel + car, flights + hotel + car, etc. Points earned is based on the package, price, and your member status.

Stay with Hotel Partners

Use Southwest's Hotel Portal:
Southwest teamed up with Booking.com to create their own hotel portal. By booking through the portal, Southwest will add in lots of bonus points. They have hotel deals all over the world, even in cities where they don't fly.

Check out their "Special Offers" tab, where you can find some good deals and earn extra points.

Book with a Partner Hotel:
Southwest also partnered up with a number of hotel chains to earn you points with every stay. You can earn 600 points every time you stay at one of the following hotels:

  • Best Western
  • Radisson
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hyatt
  • La Quinta
  • Marriott
  • MGM
  • Starwood

If you book through Rocketmiles, you can also get 1,000-10,000 bonus points.

A lot of these hotels will also let you transfer points from their rewards programs to Rapid Rewards points. This is generally not a great idea because the transfer rates are never good. However, if you need a few points to buy an awards flight, you can consider it.

For example, you can transfer 50,000 World of Hyatt rewards points for 24,000 Rapid Rewards points. With that transfer, you'll also get a bonus 6,000 points, for a total of 30,000 Rapid Rewards points. Again, not the best idea, but good for those extra points you might need when you're close to buying an awards flight.

Rental Cars and Ground Transportation

  • Car Rentals
    Earn 600 points per rental when you rent a car with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National Car Rental, Payless, and Thrifty.

    Occasionally, there are some bonus deals as well. Be sure to enter your Rapid Rewards information at checkout to earn those points.

  • Shuttle Services
    You can also use Southwest's ground transport partners to get yourself around. Take ExecuCar or Super Shuttle (they're the same company) to earn 150 points per one-way trip.

Home Services

Explore Southwest's home service partners to see if you can get a deal and earn Rapid Rewards points in the process. A note here: make sure that the price of these services is actually worth it. Don't make the change just because you will earn points. That being said, check out these providers and their offers:

With all of these companies, you'll earn a sign-up bonus (after a certain period of time) and points multipliers for the dollars spent with them.

Take Online Surveys

Companies are willing to pay out for hearing consumers' opinions. Take advantage of this by sharing yours in exchange for Rapid Rewards points. Surveys do take time, but why not do a few while you're watching TV. These three survey sites partner with Southwest:

  • Rewards for Opinions
  • e-Rewards: with e-Rewards, you'll earn "e-Rewards Currency," which you can then transfer into Rapid Rewards points; $100 of e-Rewards Currency = 2,400 Rapid Rewards points
  • e-Miles

There is a bit of a trick here. You can't enroll in these programs whenever you want. You have to sign up during an enrollment period. If they aren't taking new enrollees, you can sign up for email alerts to hear about the next opportunity.

Transfer Points Between Accounts

If you have friends who are feeling generous, they can gift you some points. Problem is, it's going to cost you. It will also significantly devalue those points. You can transfer points for one cent each. Transferring 10,000 points will cost you $100. The only reason to do this is if you only need a few extra points to buy an awards flight. Transferred points don't count towards earning a Companion Pass.

The nice thing about Southwest, though, is that it doesn't matter who buys your flight. If you have a miles-rich uncle who wants to get you a flight with his points, he can do that. He just puts the ticket under your name and pays with his points.

Buy Points

This is always the very last resort to earn points because it really defeats the purpose of points. Again, the only reason for it is if you are very close to paying for an awards flight. If you find yourself needing a few extra points, you'll pay 3 cents per point. That's more than the points are actually worth. 1,000 points will cost you $30. Points that you buy will also not count towards a Companion Pass.

Bottom Line

Southwest has some outstanding options for earning points. There is also a reason it consistently ranks in the top of the list of best airlines to fly. Use our tips to start flying Southwest for pennies. Also, have we mentioned that super valuable Companion Pass?

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
At Chase's Secure Site
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Go to issuer's official application, terms, and details
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
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17.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
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