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If you’re a frequent Southwest Airlines flyer, you’ve probably signed up with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® program. You may even have a credit card that earns additional Rapid Rewards, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card being one example.
However, you might not be taking advantage of the Southwest dining program. If you’re hoping to earn Southwest tickets, the Rapid Rewards Dining program is one of the best ways to turn food into flights.
What is the Southwest dining program?
As part of Rapid Rewards, Southwest has a dining program that lets members earn additional points by dining out at participating restaurants. Since traveling often involves restaurant meals, the dining program is a great way to start saving up points for your next trip while you’re on vacation! Even if you travel only a few times a year, these dining program rewards can help you turn your everyday work lunches and weekend brunches into free flights.
How do you sign up for the dining program?
When you sign up for Rapid Rewards, Southwest doesn’t automatically enroll you in the dining program. You’ll need to visit Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Dining site, log in with your Rapid Rewards account information and join the dining program.
Once you’ve joined, select a credit or debit card and link it to your Rapid Rewards Southwest Dining account. You can link up to 12 credit or debit cards. When you use these cards to pay for a meal at a participating restaurant, Southwest will automatically add Rapid Rewards points to your account. You don’t need to sign in before you dine or present a membership card — all you have to do is enjoy your meal and pay with a credit or debit card linked to your Southwest dining account.
How can you earn points with the dining program?
The easiest way to earn points with Rapid Rewards Dining is by using a linked credit or debit card to pay for meals at participating restaurants. You earn 2 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent, including tax and tip. You can use the Southwest dining portal to locate participating restaurants near you, or you can sign up for Rapid Rewards Southwest Dining emails to get restaurant recommendations.
It’s a smart choice to subscribe, because your rewards jump to 3 points per dollar. Plus, you might find a new favorite restaurant!
After you visit a participating Southwest Rapid Rewards restaurant, you’ll be prompted to leave a review — and every review earns you 10 bonus points, so don’t miss this opportunity. Make sure your review follows Southwest’s review guidelines, though; you can be positive or negative, but don’t be insulting. As Southwest puts it: “Focus only on your dining experience — the food, service, cleanliness, or value.”
Which cards should you link to your dining account?
Here’s another benefit of the Rapid Rewards Southwest dining program: if you link a rewards credit card to your dining account, you can earn two different sets of rewards for the same purchase.
For example: The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. If you link the Savor Cash Rewards card to your Rapid Rewards Southwest dining account, you’ll earn 3 Rapid Rewards points per dollar (assuming you signed up for those Southwest emails) plus 4% cash back. Linking one of the top credit cards for restaurant rewards to your dining account a great way to make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.
You can also link a Southwest credit card to your Rapid Rewards Dining account and earn even more Rapid Rewards points per dollar. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card earns you 2 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on Southwest flights and participating hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. This means that if you link your Rapid Rewards Plus card to your Southwest dining account, you can earn up to 4 Rapid Rewards points per dollar: 3 from the dining program and 1 from the Rapid Rewards Plus card.
If you really want to rack up those Rapid Rewards points, use a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card that allows you to transfer points to participating travel programs and transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, which means that you can earn up to 5 Rapid Rewards points per dollar on purchases at participating restaurants: 3 from the dining program and 2 Ultimate Rewards points that you can turn into Rapid Rewards points.
How much are Rapid Rewards points worth?
Figuring out how much an individual Rapid Rewards point is worth, or how many points it’ll take to get a free flight, isn’t an exact science. To quote Southwest:
The number of points needed for a particular Southwest flight is set by Southwest and will vary depending on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare type, point redemption rate, and other factors, and is subject to change at any time until the booking is confirmed.
The Points Guy estimates the monetary value of a Southwest Rapid Rewards point at 1.5 cents. In other words, 50,000 Rapid Rewards points could help you cover the cost of a $750 flight (minus taxes and fees), depending on destination, time, day of travel, demand and so on.
How can you maximize your Southwest dining points?
If you’d like to earn as many Rapid Rewards points as possible, make sure you sign up for Southwest dining emails — that small step alone will increase your dining points by 50 percent, since you’ll go from earning 2 points per dollar to 3 points per dollar.
Every time you eat at a participating restaurant, make sure to leave a review and earn your 10 bonus points.
Southwest also offers a number of Rapid Rewards Dining bonuses. Through March 31, 2019, new members can earn up to 1,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points if they sign up for Southwest dining emails, visit three participating restaurants in the first 30 days of membership, spend at least $25 at each restaurant and review each visit.
These aren’t the only bonuses available, so make sure you sign up for those Southwest dining emails to learn about all the ways you can maximize your points!
Be sure to read our other rewards program guides as well!