How To Earn Rapid Rewards Points
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[This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.]

As someone who is always looking for ways to save on travel, I must admit that I’m pretty partial to Southwest Airlines.

That’s partly because their regular fares beat the pricing of other airlines on a regular basis, and that doesn’t even include the killer sales they have from time to time.

On top of that, their loyalty program is one of the best out there with no black-out dates and reasonable redemption rates for a wide variety of destinations.

With all that being said, something happened recently that made me become even more serious about racking up Southwest’s Rapid Rewards miles. I found out that, because of their ongoing merger with Air Tran, they would soon begin offering international routes to some of my very favorite locations in the Caribbean.

Where Can Southwest Take You Now?

Now that Southwest has routes to the Caribbean, those Rapid Rewards points just became far more valuable and versatile. But first, let’s start with a basic rundown of where those points can take you:

Starting July 1, Southwest took over routes from:

  • Atlanta to Montego Bay and Aruba
  • Baltimore/Washington to Aruba, Nassau, and Montego Bay
  • Orlando to Aruba and Montego Bay

Additional international flights are still being transitioned over to Southwest, too. For example, by the end of the year you should be able to fly Southwest Airlines to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Mexico City, Los Cabos, and Cancun.

But, how does this work?

Earning Rapid Rewards Points

The easiest way to earn Rapid Rewards points is to sign up for the Chase Rapid Rewards Premier or Plus card. The details:

The Rapid Rewards Premier Version:

  • Earn 25,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within 90 days of account opening
  • $99 annual fee is not waived
  • Earn 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest and Air Tran purchases and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 6,000 points on your anniversary

The Rapid Rewards Plus Version:

  • Earn 25,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within 90 days of account opening
  • The $69 annual fee is not waived
  • Earn 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest and Air Tran purchases and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else
  • Earn 3,000 points on your anniversary

It’s also important to note that Chase raises the sign-up bonus to 50,000 Rapid Rewards points several times throughout the year. If you want to double your bonus, you simply have to wait for one of those times to sign up! In the interim, some current Southwest cardholders do have a referral link to the 50K bonus that doesn’t expire until September 30th of this year. When in doubt, ask around.

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Now that you know how to earn Rapid Rewards points, let’s talk about how you redeem them. First of all, Southwest reward flights are priced based on the actual cost of the ticket. The good news is, Southwest fights to the Caribbean are priced competitively. This is good because the cheaper the ticket, the fewer points you need for a redemption. Here are a few examples of the awesome fares Southwest is currently offering to the Caribbean:

Round-trip Indianapolis to Montego Bay

  • Dates: November 4th- November 11th, 2014
  • Cost: 16,600 Rapid Rewards points pp plus $111.69 in taxes and fees
Fly To Montego Bay on Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Montego Bay

Round-trip Orlando to Aruba

  • Dates: December 2nd – December 9th, 2014
  • Cost: 19,040 Rapid Rewards points pp plus $70.60 in taxes and fees
How To Fly To Aruba On Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

Aruba

Round-trip Atlanta to Cancun

  • Dates: December 2nd-December 9, 2014
  • Cost: 17,220 Rapid Rewards points plus $77.54 in taxes and fees
Travel To Cancun For Free With Rapid Rewards Points

Cancun

As you can see, that 25,000 point signup bonus can go really far with these fares.

Of course, wait for the 50,000 point signup bonus to roll back around (or get a referral number from a friend) and your points can take you even farther. Also keep in mind that Chase will allow you to get both versions of the card (Premier and Plus), making your potential point haul over 100,000 rapid rewards points if the timing is right.

If you want to see the Caribbean on a budget, I can’t think of an easier way to do it. But, as always, it’s important to explore your options and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck (or point) before booking any trip.

Did you know about Southwest’s new international routes? Which destination interests you the most?

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About The Author: Holly is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly and Frugal Travel Guy. Check out more of her super awesome skills at clubthrifty.com. If you’re interested in writing for Vosa contact us here.

Photo Credits: Gary O. Grimm | Travelling Pooh | Tbass Effendi

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