One of the best ways to use points in loyalty programs is to get the company's credit card. Many offer instant spending bonuses that can be worth their weight in gold, or groceries, or bills, or whatever you spend your money on to earn them. With the cards that we have, we literally just pay off our bills and end up getting all sorts of free perks like hotel rooms, flights, VIP treatment, and more. You just have to make sure that you're choosing the best cards for your travel goals. So today I'm featuring the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card- my favorite flight card. I'm not getting paid to advertise for them (though that would be nice), I just want to share my knowledge with others looking to travel cheap, or in this case, FREE.
Southwest Airlines offers a great loyalty program called Rapid Rewards. You can sign up for free, and you don't have to get the card to start earning points on the flights you are paying for. But the real way to earn a lot of points in a hurry is to apply for the credit card. It's a simple application, but you want to make sure that you're applying when you can earn 50,000 points, not 25,000 points. We'll talk more about points in a second.
How it Works:
You apply for the card. Once you receive it, you have to spend $2,000 on the card within the first three months of opening your account. Then the 50,000 points are yours. For most people, this can easily be reached within a month by just paying for gas, bills, groceries, and other necessities. If you're not big spenders, you can even purchase gift cards that you can use for a later date, or pre-pay your bills.
- 50,000 points can usually buy at least two roundtrip flights for two people, depending on where you choose to go and how many points the flights are. We BOTH flew to Cancun and back and Vegas and back for free, and we still have points left! (Yes, they fly internationally now!) Keep in mind, you will get the 50,000 points when you spend $2,000, PLUS 2,000+ points for the dollars you put on the card.
- 6,000 points will be credited to your account every year that you keep the card open. That's enough points to get from KC to Chicago and back if your dates are flexible. These 6,000 anniversary points make the $99 Annual Fee more than pay for itself.
- No foreign transaction fees, and NO blackout dates. I love this about the Southwest Card. You can find flights for much cheaper point rates than you would with any other flight loyalty program. All flights are available on all dates and time, though the cheapest point flights generally fill up the quickest.
- You can earn points with various programs, including Dining Rewards, Shopping Rewards, hotels, and other specials like TurboTax. You can also buy and share points as needed, with a small fee.
- Points don't expire, and two bags per person are always free! Enough said.
- You can cancel your flight up until 24 hours before with no fees. No questions asked!
|The flexible dates calendar shows you when points are cheapest. Make sure the fares are showing in points.|
The Companion Pass:
This is super cool. There are two different Southwest cards you can get. If you get both cards and earn the 50,000 points on each card, then you will have 100,000 rewards points. If you can get to 110,000 points within a calendar year, then a companion of your choice will fly FREE for the rest of that year AND for the entire next year. So your points basically become double value because you are only having to use them for one person. You can do some major damage with 110,000 points and your companion flying free- you just have to make sure that all your points post in the same calendar year. And putting $10,000 worth of spending on your card in a year, which should be doable, especially if you're planning to make a big purchase. Or you can even transfer point over from another rewards program, which is what we did to get the pass for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017!!
|The Rewards Flight Tracker lets you see available flights from your home airport. It lets you search a range of available flights and check dates or track points for the best value.|
Using the Website and Booking Flights:
Southwest automatically assigns you a Rapid Rewards number when you get your card. Their website, https://www.southwest.com, is incredibly easy to navigate. When you search for flights, just make sure you've clicked points and not dollars. From there you can look at the flexible date calendar for the best price.
The only thing you're charged is the non-negotiable airline fee, which is usually around $5, or a little more for international fees (which happens no matter what airline you use).
Ready to Get Started? Check out https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/southwest/2rtfosam1 . Still have questions? I would love to tell you about our experiences or answer any questions you may have. Click here to contact me, or comment below. If you liked this post, and want to be updated when new tips or posts are shared, click here to sign up for our newsletter.