In another post, Best Skymiles Programs for World Travel, I talked about how you can earn over 100,000 miles for your world travel adventure in just a few months with Skymiles rewards credit cards, but that’s a lot of spending (and saving) to do before your departure date.
If you’ve got the travel bug like we do, you’ll want to occupy some of your free time with some less ambitious traveling, or even cross some domestic items off your bucket list before you say goodbye. But how do you do this while saving money and miles for your round the world trip? The answer is one of the best skymile programs in existence today, the Southwest Rapid Rewards ® program.
With Southwest Rapid Rewards ® you can accumulate enough miles to fly yourself and a companion around the United States for almost free multiple times, even while you’re saving for your REAL adventure.
I know what you’re thinking: “Southwest? They don’t fly anywhere!” This was definitely true several years ago, but today Southwest has an extensive domestic footprint and now flies to most major cities in the United States as well as some Caribbean destinations.
Southwest has two credit cards that seem very similar, but have slight differences and are considered to be completely independent from one another. The first credit card is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card and comes with the following features:
- Earn 50,000 skymiles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of opening your account
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases made directly with the airline
- 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards ® Hotel Partner, Car Rental Partner, and point purchases
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- 3,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary
- Earn 1 point per $1 in balance transfers, up to 10,000 points, within the first 90 days of opening your account.
- $69 annual fee
The second card is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card and comes with the first four features above plus:
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad
- 6,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary
- 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases
- Get up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points each calendar year
- $99 annual fee
And like all great Skymiles rewards cards, they come with bonus miles when you sign up! With these two cards specifically, one person can apply for and open both cards and receive the associated 50,000 skymile sign up bonus for spending $2,000 during the first three months of owning the card.
The 100,000 bonus miles you receive for signing up for both cards will earn you at least four round trip flights to anyone of Southwest’s destinations in the United States.
If this was all that the Southwest Rewards program offered it would be worth doing, but there is one special perk that really blows us away.
Southwest gives Rapid Rewards members the ability to earn a companion pass if the Rapid Rewards member accumulates 110,000 qualifying miles in a calendar year. The 100,000 bonus miles you receive for signing up for the two credit cards already qualify for the companion pass and so do the 4,000 miles you receive from spending to receive the bonus points.
That means, if you spend an additional $6,000 on either card by the end of the calendar year, you will receive a companion pass that allows a named companion of yours to fly for free every time you fly on Southwest. The companion pass is good for the remainder of the calendar year that it was earned in and is also good for the following calendar year as well!
If you sign up for Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus and Premier cards, spend $4,000 within the bonus period, and then spend another $6,000 within the calendar year you will earn enough miles for at least four free roundtrip flights on Southwest and a companion pass that allows someone to accompany you on those flights. You’re essentially earning 8 free flights just for signing up for a couple of credit cards that have very modest annual fees and spending money you would have spent anyway! So what are you waiting for? Go sign up!