My friends don’t ask me what airline I’m flying anymore, because I always fly Southwest. I usually travel alone, so open seating doesn’t bother me, and I LOVE that bags fly free. Not only that, they offer competitive prices (especially when you factor in the money you save on the checked bags).
As I mentioned in a post last week, Ryan and I are flying to Southern California and it only cost $24 for the both of us. I believe that the way to make rewards/loyalty programs work the best for you is to be 100% completely brand loyal. That said, I’m sure some of these tips would roll over into other air reward programs, but I can only speak confidently on what I know.
First, I’m going to show you my RR (Rapid Rewards) points for 2014 and 2015.
Let’s discuss the blue items in the list. The blue items are flights. I usually buy two one way tickets whenever I fly anywhere because instead of paying one large sum of money, I’d rather pay two smaller fees. There are three different levels of airline tickets with Southwest: Business Select, Anytime and Wanna Get Away. Business Select is the most expensive and offers 12 points per dollar spent. Wanna Get Away is the cheapest and offers 6 points per dollar spent. I’m cheap; I always travel Wanna Get Away fares.
My account history shows the following flights:
- January ’14 trip to Nashville (1,061 points)
- May trip to California (round trip – 926 points)
- September trip to Nashville (1,820 points)
- January 15′ trip to Nashville (1,492 points)
Those points alone are 5,299 points. That would most likely get me a one-way ticket on a weekday to a city on the West Coast. But flights aren’t the only way I earn Rapid Reward points!
Rapid Reward Dining
Do you have a debit card? Do you ever go out to eat? If you answered yes to these two questions then you need to sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining. You link a debit card or two or three or four or however many you use, and connect it to your RR account. They have a list of restaurants that give you 1 point per dollar spent when you dine. Then if you fill out a feedback survey you get additional points on top of that. I’ve earned 81 points from that. You can see that for awhile I was really consistent in that, and there’s absolutely nothing to lose by being faithful to the Rapid Rewards Dining Restaurants. You just earn more Rapid Rewards!
Many years ago I was invited to be a part of a survey panel that eventually became e-rewards, an invitation only survey panel. One of the options on redeeming credits earned is Rapid Rewards. There are other options like iTunes gift cards and Starbucks cards, but I decided that since it’s not actual money, I’d rather bulk up my RR account to get free flights.
InstaGC, Swagbucks, etc.
I swear by Swagbucks (all about brand loyalty!) and once redeemed 10,000 Swagbucks for a $100 Southwest gift card. They currently don’t offer SW gift cards BUT they offer PayPal money which could be used for paying for a flight.
InstaGC is similar to Swagbucks and offers $10 – $500 Southwest gift cards. Southwest limits the amount of gift cards you can use for airfare, so it’s ALWAYS best to get the highest priced gift card you can.
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Rapid Rewards Shopping
On the Rapid Rewards website is an option to earn points by shopping online. Each online retailer offers a different point per dollar. I’ve never done this because I prefer to use my online shopping to benefit Swagbucks. If I was really trying to save up points for a big trip, I would definitely use this option. When you shop online, make sure you only stick to things you would have purchased even without the point incentive or else you’re not actually earning a free flight – you’re paying for it with a few dollars here and there in other useless expenses.
Rapid Rewards Credit Card
As you can see in my Rewards history, the most significant point-earner for me is the Rapid Rewards Credit Card. Thanks to a new member incentive, I have earned 27,337 Rapid Rewards this year because of my credit card. Even without the 25,000 bonus points I have earned 2,337 Rapid Rewards points (more than I’ve made on any one trip!) in the past 3 months. I make all of my purchases on my Rapid Rewards Card and make a payment each night I have charged something. That way, I am literally just collecting free Rapid Reward points.
When it came time to buy our plane tickets, I had 35,691 Rapid Rewards points. Each flight was 12,112. I had points left over and with this month’s credit card points, I’m already back at 11,467 points!
For the most part, when it comes to loyalty/rewards systems, I tend to hoard my points so that if there’s ever a moment when I absolutely need them (like say I want to take my favorite guy to meet my favorite little twins because they’ll be on our coast) I have sufficient resources to do so.
My advice is this: If you are in ANY sort of loyalty program, figure out every way to take advantage of their perks and point-earning. Find the ways your everyday purchases/decisions can help you earn additional points, and STAY LOYAL.