Southwest Airlines has a great frequent flyer program that allows you to rack up points towards free flights, hotels, car rentals, and more at a pretty decent clip. It is appropriately named “Rapid Rewards.” The best part about the program is that you don’t necessarily have to be a frequent flyer to take full advantage. As you get ready for your travels this summer, keep in mind these three ways to earn, earn, earn, and you could be traveling for free before you know it.
1. Open Up a Credit Card
This option is not for those who have trouble keeping their credit in check. It is for people who pay off their full balance every billing cycle, and know that they can use credit responsibly.
Southwest’s partner in credit is Chase. When you apply for the Premier, Plus, or Premier Business Rapid Rewards card through Chase, they give you a sign-up bonus. Typically, this bonus is 25,000 points, but every few months, they bump the bonus up to 50,000 points. Right now is one of those times. The promotion is only running through tomorrow, but if you miss it don’t fret. Just keep an eye out for it in coming months.
To earn these points, you have to pay the annual fee (which is either $69 or $99 depending on the card you open,) and spend $2,000 within the first three months of opening the card. If you use the card to pay your regular bills and expenses, and pay the balance off before it is due, this can be a very achievable number that easily pays off. Depending on which flights you book and your redemption method, those 50,000 points can get you $550 to $1,000 in airfare through the airline.
Once you have the card, you earn 2 points per dollar for Southwest flights you book directly with the airline. You also earn 2 points per dollar when you book a partner hotel or car rental. A nice perk of the Rapid Rewards card is that you also get points awarded to you on the anniversary of the date you opened the card: 3,000 to 6,000 depending on the type of card you opened.
2. Use Promo Codes
When you book with those partners, it’s a good idea to see if you can get bonus points for using a promo code. For example, right now you can get up to an additional 2,400 points when you book a car rental with Budget, plus 30% savings on the booking itself, just for taking a few minutes to look up promo codes.
3. Review Restaurants
Southwest also has a dining program. When you eat at one of their partnered restaurants, you can earn 3 points for every dollar you spend. You must pay via a major credit or debit card (which you link to your account at sign up,) but it does not have to be the Southwest Rapid Rewards card. After you sign up, you earn 500 points if you spend $25 within 30 days. This is on top of the 3 points per dollar that you’ve spent. You also earn 10 points for each restaurant review that you submit. Submit enough of them, and you hit tiered bonuses in the hundreds of points. You can check out participating restaurants and more details about the program here.
No matter what your travel plans are this summer, you’re likely able to rack up some serious Rapid Rewards points. Start earning them now, and your next vacation has the potential to be free.