Soaring and Saving with Southwest


The name of this blog is RewardsRoaming and so far we have been doing A LOT of roaming. Now for how we build up the rewards that allow us to roam or, at least some of them. I have a Southwest Visa through Chase. I am embarrassed to admit I have had it for over 10 years and have only been using it to its full potential for the last two. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even aware of all the benefits of this particular card until a friend mentioned that his wife flew for free because he had earned a companion pass on Southwest. I knew that I got Rapid Rewards points for purchases on my card and that I also got them when I flew on Southwest. I just never read the fine print and boy was I missing out.

Rapid Rewards Program

For those of you not familiar with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program, it is, in my opinion, one of the best! Why do I feel that way?

  • There are unlimited reward seats. If a seat is available, you can book it with points.
  • There are no black out dates.
  • Points don’t expire.
  • You can redeem points for international flights with over 50 carriers, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals and gift cards.

However, I think you will find that using your points on Southwest flights is so easy and the destinations are so fun, you won’t want to spend them on anything else.

I also like that I can buy points if I don’t have quite enough to book my fare. 2000 points costs $60 and it increases by $15 for every 500 points, so 2500 points would cost you $75. I can also transfer points to my friends and family. There is a fee for this. Transferring 2000 points costs $20 and for every additional 500 points there is an additional $5 fee.

How many points does it take to get a flight? You can get a Wanna Get Away fare one way from Tampa to Chicago Midway for anywhere from 7500 points to 12,000 points. What is that in dollars? Anywhere from $140 to $250. If you are not familiar with Southwest’s ticketing prices, tickets are broken down into three categories: Wanna Get Away, the least expensive, Anytime, the middle range, and Business Select, the priciest. For a breakdown of the differences, see the chart below.

Business Select Anytime Wanna Get Away
Refundable Yes Yes No
Resuable Yes Yes Yes
Same Day Changes Taxes and Fees Taxes and Fees Fare Difference and Taxes and Fees
Priority Boarding A 1 – A 15
Fly By Check in  Yes
Two Free Checked Bags Yes Yes Yes
Drink and Snack Premium Drink Yes Yes
Points Awarded 12 X fare 10 X fare 6 X fare

In addition to the points awarded by your fare, if you book directly with Southwest and use your Southwest Visa you get double the points. You also get double points for hotels and rental cars associated with Southwest. You get one point per dollar on other purchases on your card. Here is where the magic can happen! In order to get a companion pass, where your designate person flies free ANYWHERE you go on Southwest, you have to spend $110,000 in a year. I know that is A LOT of money but, you can really accrue points by putting EVERYTHING you can on this card. We pay our home and car insurance on the card. I pay our cell phone, internet and cable on the card. Basically, anything we can pay by credit card  and NOT get charged a fee, goes on the card.

Southwest Dining

Southwest also has a program called Southwest Dining. It requires you to sign up for their email communication but it gives you 3 points/$  at designated restaurants if you will write a review within 30 days. You also get new member bonus points after you have spent $25 on meals and done a review in 30 days. You get 500 bonus points for every 1500 points earned with reviews and 10 points per review. When you register for this program you can put up to 12 credit cards on file so you get bonuses on all of them. There is no card to carry, number to learn or coupon to clip. Southwest does ALL the tracking for you.

Card Types and Anniversary Points

The Southwest Visa itself gives you points. You get 50,000 points when you sign up and spend $2000. There are two types of cards, premier and plus. The fee for Premier is $99 but it includes no foreign transaction fees and gives you 6000 points on your yearly anniversary. The plus card does accrue foreign transaction fees and gives 3000 on your anniversary.

Why We Fly Southwest

The Southwest Visa works well for us. The airline goes almost everywhere we travel. We love not getting charged a bunch of extra fees for our seats and luggage and we are so accustomed to Southwest’s boarding process that other airlines actually feel awkward for us. If you aren’t familiar with the boarding process, it is open seating. You buy a ticket and, unless you are Business Select, your seat is assigned when you check in online 24 hours before your flight. There is one additional option. You can pay $15 each way for early bird check in. Early bird checks you in 36 hours before the flight so you are assigned a boarding position 12 hours before general boarding positions become available. Another advantage is that you don’t have to remember to check in 24 hours before your flight home while you are enjoying your vacation. Before this option became available we had to set alarms on our phones and once even had to call our son at home and ask him to check us in because we didn’t have internet. Other than fare options and early bird, there are NO other fees on Southwest. I love that there is no change or cancellation fee. This was extremely helpful when we were dealing with aging parents.

As you can see, we are dedicated Southwest flyers. If you haven’t given this airline a try, please do. There attendants are friendly and funny and the prices are great and the potential to earn rewards is easy and as straightforward as their fares.



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