I had a frantic reader who discovered that she was short by about 500 of the 125,000 Southwest points  needed to reach Southwest Companion Pass status by the end of the year.

The Southwest Companion Pass lets one person fly free with you from the time you earn it until the end of the following year.

But to get there, you have to first earn 135,000 by Dec. 31.

Because all the points need to be earned during ONE calendar year, my reader needed to get those extra 500 points before Dec. 31 or she would have to start all over again the next year!

Don’t make that mistake!

Earn Southwest points fast
Credit: Southwest Airlines, Stephen M Keller

Many of you (myself included) may need to earn a lot more than 500 points to get you to 135,000. Maybe 10,000, maybe 20,000, maybe 30,000…

What to do when you need points, large or small amounts, FAST? Here were my suggestions to my reader — and to you — if you are in the same boat.

How to Earn Large Amounts of Southwest Points Fast

shopping on phone

1. Book a Hotel Through SouthwestHotels.com

This is my top suggestion for folks who are needing 10,000-30,000 points relatively quickly. You can earn up to 10,000 points per night booked, but you, of course, will have to pay for it, unless your business will reimburse you.

But $100 or so per night for a hotel is well worth all the money you will save with the Companion Pass over one or two years of a loved one flying free.

In 2017 and 2018, we booked a local hotel that was not the greatest, but offered a high amount of points for booking, checked in, but never stayed there. I also had a reader in 2019 who not only didn’t stay there; she never checked in either, and the points STILL credited to her account!

We used the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book the room, earning us another 3X points (coded as Southwest, which codes for travel) for free points that transfer 1:1 to Southwest (but don’t qualify for the Companion Pass) or you could use your Southwest card and get DOUBLE points which DO qualify for the Companion Pass.

To find more 10,000-point hotel options, check closer to your check-in date (like within a week). There is no easy way to sort these hotel offers; you simply have to look through them all.

Your SouthwestHotels.com points will credit to your account a few days after the stay is complete.

2. Spend in the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal screen

In  my experience, starting at the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal before making any online purchases (or even in-store purchases that you can order online and pick up in store) is the quickest way to net Rapid Rewards points.

You click through to the site (there are tons of retailers who may earn you from 1/2 point to up to 35 points per dollar spent), do your shopping and typically within a couple days your points are in your account. They say it can take up to six to eight weeks, but it rarely does. So it’s not 100% but it’s a good starting point.

Magazines are a good pick as there are some magazine subscription sites that give you 20 points per $1, but don’t forget about everyday store like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Lowe’s, CVS, Walgreens, etc. Note: Target and Walmart will not allow you to earn points for grocery purchases, unfortunately.


3. Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and/or the The Economist

Barron's Southwest Points

Again, start at the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal and subscribe from there (these subscriptions are usually super cheap, like $1-$12, so this is likely a less expensive option than shopping through the portal, and net you between 500-1100 points EACH).

You can also opt for a $99 subscription to Motley Fool, which nets you between 3,600 to 5,400 points

Other good options in the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal, include:

Usually within a week of subscribing, you have your points credited. Keep in mind you can’t have subscribed to one of these within the last 6 months in order to get your points.


4. Book a Quick Flight

Southwest Connecting Flight

You earn 6 points per dollar on the cheapest Wanna Getaway Fares and up to 12 points per $1 on the higher-priced Business Select fares. Book a quick flight somewhere as soon as possible.

Generally, your points are credited to your account the day AFTER you complete the flight.

5. Use your Southwest Chase Rapid Rewards Credit Cards for Purchases

Rapid Rewards Shopping Holiday Bonus

This method works, so long as you complete all spending a few days BEFORE your December close date to ensure your points credit this calendar year. If you complete purchases AFTER the close date, they will credit in January of the next year. So this is NOT the best last-minute method.

Do several of these options just to BE SURE! You can always return items purchased using the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal if one of the other methods ends up working for you.

Things to Be Aware Of

  • BONUS POINTS DO NOT COUNT TOWARD COMPANION PASS STATUS – If anything in the Rapid Rewards Portal or elsewhere says BONUS points, you can use those for free travel but NOT toward the Companion Pass. READ the fine print!! The one exception here is credit card bonus points; those DO qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points DO NOT count toward Companion Pass status. I am asked this a lot; don’t make this mistake! You can use them to book free flights on Southwest, but they do NOT qualify for Companion Pass when you transfer them to Southwest.
  • You can also no longer transfer hotel points from a hotel loyalty program like Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt (or any!) to Southwest and have those count toward the Companion Pass.

Are you in this situation? What will you try? Any tips?

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  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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