For people new to the loyalty world, the biggest misconception is that the only way to earn points and miles is by flying an airline regularly or carrying its travel rewards credit card. But did you know you can earn miles or points for future travel from the comfort of your living room? With back-to-school around the corner, you might earn quite a hefty stash of Southwest points just by utilizing its online shopping portals.
Just about every major airline has its own shopping portal, but today we’ll dive into the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal to learn about how to earn Southwest points on online purchases.
New to The Points Guy? Sign-up for our daily newsletter and check out our beginner’s guide.
What is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal?
When you start shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, you can earn bonus points at over 850 merchants.
If you already have a Southwest Rapids Rewards account, all you need to do is sign into the portal with your username and password so that the bonus points will be credited to your frequent flyer account. Then you can use the search box to find your favorite stores or products. You can also compare prices and earning rates. Remember to look out for stores offering bonus points, featured deals and special bonus offers.
After you’ve selected your merchant, click on the store, product, or offer and you’ll be taken to the store’s website. The store will alert the portal when you’ve made a purchase and the points you earned will be added to your account. You’ll receive an email to confirm when your points have posted, which can take up to 15 days.
Related: The ultimate guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards
Earning rates on the Southwest shopping portal
Once you’ve logged into the Rapid Rewards Shopping website, search for a product or store, and click to shop with a participating retailer. Note that earnings are calculated on the net amount of eligible purchases. That means taxes, special handling charges, returns, freight or shipping costs, and any unshipped products are not included in the points calculation.
There are hundreds of stores to choose from, and you can sort by earning rate. At the time of writing, I’m seeing earn rates from 1x (like Banana Republic) up to 20x (Discountmags.com). You can also earn fixed points through some merchants, like this offer from WSJwine for 1, 100 points. Additionally, you’ll also save $35 on your first order and receive four free gifts and receive free shipping.
You could do most of your daily, weekly or monthly purchases through the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal without ever needing to visit a store in person.
For instance, if you need to stock up on groceries or supplies, Sam’s Club is offering a whopping 6 points per dollar spent on new memberships and 0.5 points on everything else. Make sure you check the offers to the right side of the earning rate because sometimes you can also net some sweet cash back or gift card deals.
Aveda, one of my go-to skincare stores, is offering 4x points on purchases at the time of writing. You’ll also get 15% off your first offer, which could amount to significant savings.
You can also search for a specific item or brand by typing it in the search bar at the top of the page. Don’t be alarmed if nothing pops up while you’re typing; just hit enter, and you’ll see results. I’m in the market for a new Keurig machine, the K55 model, and decided to check the portal to see what options were available. I could shop directly through Keurig on the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, which currently offers 2x points per dollar.
But after doing a little more digging, I found the exact model I was looking for. Instead of purchasing the machine through Keurig and earning 2x, I bought it through Bloomingdale’s to earn 3x. The number of points I can earn varies by the merchant; for example, Bloomingdale’s offers 3x points, but gap.com only offers a paltry 1x.
If you frequently forget to check the portal before making a purchase — and don’t want to worry about remembering — there’s a workaround for that. You can download the Rapid Rewards Shopping Chrome extension to remind you anytime you’re shopping on a website where you can earn bonus points.
Related: How to redeem points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program
Shopping portal promotions
In addition to the standard earning rates, shopping portals like Southwest frequently run bonuses to incentivize you further to shop. Often, these aren’t based on purchases at a single store. Instead, they cover transactions across all participating merchants over a set period.
Four airlines, including Southwest, offered bonus points or miles in mid-November ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Bookmark our permanent page for airline shopping portal promotions for these offers throughout the year.
Other events like back to school and the holidays are excellent opportunities to rack up rewards. We’re a few months out, but it’s not too early to think about your strategy for the fall. When shopping online for online Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday, make sure you’re going through the shopping portal in addition to using a great rewards credit card so that you’re double-dipping (or potentially even triple-dipping) on rewards. I typically start at a shopping portal aggregator to compare earning rates across these sites and then select the one that works best for me.
Right now, the Rapid Rewards portal is offering some smoking deals on back-to-school brands like Adidas (4x points and up to 25% off) and Thrive Market (a whopping 15x points).
Related: How to earn points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program
Earn Southwest Companion Pass qualifying points
If you’re working toward earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, using the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal is an easy way to earn more qualifying points. To earn the Companion Pass, you’ll need to earn 125,000 qualifying points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. This year, Southwest is offering all Rapid Rewards members a boost of 25,000-point or 25 flights towards the Companion Pass, making it even easier.
Once you have the pass, it allows you to bring a friend or family member along with you on paid and award tickets for just the cost of taxes and fees. Currently, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card are offering 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
In general, points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal do count toward Companion Pass qualification. The only exception is if an offer is marked “bonus points.”
Related: Southwest Companion Pass: Lessons learned over a decade
Best credit cards to use with Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
Read more: Salary Calculator
If you’re making a high-value purchase, you’ll want to use a card with purchase protection like the American Express® Gold Card, which protects you if your purchase is damaged, lost, or stolen within 90 days of purchase. Otherwise, depending on the merchant, you’ll want to use one of the best cards for online shopping.
If you’re trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, it can make sense to use a Southwest cobranded credit card for your purchase to accelerate your earnings further. Points earned from the welcome bonus and spending on these cards count toward the Southwest Companion Pass:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
Whatever card you decide to use, check which Amex Offers and Chase Offers you are eligible for if you want to maximize your purchases even further. These programs give cardholders discounts and other bonuses for making purchases with specific merchants, and you can potentially stack multiple offers. American Express’ program is available on virtually any American Express card, including personal cards and business cards.
Related: The best Southwest credit cards
Shopping portal tips and tricks
Using the Southwest shopping portal is relatively straightforward, but there are a few essential things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you sign up to get deals sent straight to your inbox and pick five or more favorite stores. Southwest will shoot you an email when they offer extra points.
- Make sure you download the Chrome extension, which will activate points directly at store sites and automatically apply coupons at checkout.
- You must click through the link on the portal’s site and then purchase from the page that pops up. Don’t navigate away and come back later; you may miss out on the bonus.
- You must make sure that you have cookies enabled in your browser for the retailer’s site. This is what allows the portal to “track” your purchases and award bonuses accordingly.
- Only use promotions or promo codes found on the portal; if you use others, the purchase may become ineligible for bonus points.
- Be sure to read the restrictions for each merchant. Many won’t count gift cards as eligible purchases for earning bonuses, and others will exclude certain products.
- To double dip on points, remember to use a travel rewards credit card that offers the best earning rate on your purchase. Most of these merchants don’t fall into the traditional bonus categories, so you’ll probably want to stick with a card that’s good for everyday purchases.
- Consider using shopping portal aggregators like CashBack Monitor. The site allows you to pull up a specific retailer and see the earning rate you’d get across all applicable shopping portals. This includes all of the above types of portals, allowing you to quickly compare earning rates and determine which one offers the best return for the individual merchant at which you are shopping.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal is a quick and easy way to earn bonus points for online purchases at your favorite merchants. From clothes to shoes to electronics, you can rack up points for your everyday spending.
Even if you’re only earning an extra mile or two for every dollar you spend, these earnings can quickly add up. We value Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, so using the shopping portal can put you closer to your next Southwest flight.
Additional reporting by Johnny Motley.
Featured photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.