Editor’s note: At TPG, our top priority is providing our readers with the information needed to make educated decisions about travel and your rewards-earnings strategy. This is not the best time to travel, domestically or internationally, as airlines have cut major parts of their route network. But we are sharing this information to provide value for future travel once coronavirus concerns have subsided.
For people new to the loyalty world, one misconception is thinking the only way to earn points and miles is by flying an airline regularly or carrying its travel rewards credit card. You probably aren’t earning the miles you’d typically earn with paid flights as travel is all but halted. You may have also cut down on spending on a travel card. But did you know you can earn miles or points for future travel from the comfort of your living room?
Yes! One of the easiest ways to earn miles and points is to leverage 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.
What is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal?
When you start your online shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, you can earn bonus points at over 850 merchants. I’ve been a fan of using shopping portals for some time now, but I’ve been using them more during the coronavirus pandemic as New York aims to flatten the curve.
If you already have a Southwest Rapids Rewards account, all you need to do 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 a product. 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 to shop and check out. 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.
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 Rapid Rewards points earned 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 post writing, I’m seeing earn rates from 1x (like Banana Republic) up to 25x (Xfinity). You can also earn fixed points through some merchants, like this offer from Sun Basket for 2,700 points. Additionally, you’ll also save $35 on your first order.
You could make most of your daily, weekly or monthly purchases just through the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, without ever needing to visit a store in person. This can be incredibly useful now more than ever during social distancing. For instance, if you need to stock up on groceries or supplies, Sam’s Club is offering a whopping 5x points (up from 0.5 points) per dollar spent. Make sure you also 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 3x points on purchases. Additionally, 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 is currently offering 2x points per dollar.
But after doing a little more digging, I found the exact model I was looking for. The number of points I can earn varies by the merchant, with Bloomingdale’s offering 3x points, while JCPenney offers a paltry 1x.
If you frequently forget to check the portal before making a purchase — and don’t want to have 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.
Shopping portal promotions
In addition to the standard earning rates, shopping portals like Southwest frequently run bonuses to incentivize you further to shop. In many cases, 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. Be sure to 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.
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. 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.
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” as opposed to the regular earning (say, 5x points per dollar) you’d get with a merchant.
Best credit cards to use with Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping
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 credit 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
The information for the Southwest Performance Business card and the Southwest Premier Business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Whatever card you decide to use, make sure to check which Amex Offers and Chase Offers you are eligible for if you want to maximize your purchases even further. These programs provide cardholders with 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. Chase’s program is currently only available for select consumer credit and debit cardholders.
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.
- 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 a shopping portal aggregators like CashBack Monitor or evreward. 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 a variety of 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 by using the shopping portal, it can put you closer to your next domestic flight, or even to an international destination like Aruba when it’s safe to travel again.
Featured photo by Bloemenmarkt/Getty Images.