On Monday, we discussed how affordable flights from Orlando to Montego Bay are with Southwest at the moment. Since Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program is revenue-based, the number of points needed for a free flight is directly determined by the cash price of a ticket. That means a sale for cash flyers makes for a good award flight opportunity, as well!
In this case, this flight is just 3,290 Rapid Rewards Points each way. That’s an extremely low number. It’s so low, in fact, that it’s possible to earn enough miles to cover the flight with just a few clicks and a single meal! Here’s how:
1) Sign Up For Rapid Rewards
Southwest typically offers 500 points as a sign-up bonus for creating a Rapid Rewards account. However, right now a special offer is available that provides a sign-up bonus of 2,000 points!
Use this link to earn an instant bonus of 2,000 points for creating a Rapid Rewards account. This is a limited offer that looks like it’ll expire in a few days, so act quickly on this one!
As you can see, the offer actually promises 2,500 points. That’s because you can earn an extra 500 points just for signing up for two of Southwest’s email newsletters. The trick is that you have to continue receiving them for at least three months before you’ll receive the extra 500 points. The sign-up bonus, however, will appear in your account right away:
You may need to log out and back into your new Rapid Rewards account for the points to appear, but they should show up once you do.
2) Sign Up For Rapid Rewards Dining
Many airlines offer dining programs. AAdvantage Dining, SkyMiles Dining, MileagePlus Dining, Rapid Rewards Dining and more are available. All of them are operated by Rewards Network, which means that the participating restaurants list for each program is basically identical. The earnings for each program are also fairly similar, but the sign-up bonus and specific earnings details vary from program to program.
These programs are one of my favorite ways to earn miles, because they’re so easy to use. Rewards Network partners with credit card operators and receives notifications when you make a purchase at a participating restaurant, bar or nightclub. In order to earn extra miles for your meal or round of drinks, all you have to do is pay with a card you’ve registered with the program. You don’t have to inform your server or apply a special code, register a receipt online or do anything else. All you have to do is pay!
You may register up to five cards with any dining network, and there’s no reason not to register all the cards you regularly use. That way, you don’t need to think about what card you pay with in order to earn extra points. Critically, Rewards Network works with debit cards, too, so you can earn extra miles when dining out even if you don’t have a credit card!
One caveat is that you may only register your each card with one network, so you can’t register the same card for multiple dining networks and earn points on all of them. That means you’ll need to pick the network that’s best for you. If you’re loyal to a particular airline program, it’s probably best to go with that one. If you’re just getting started, Southwest’s program just might be the best, thanks to some exceptional bonus offers only available through Rapid Rewards Dining.
To sign up, go here. You’ll fill out some basic information on the first screen:
Next, you’ll create a username and password. Note that this username and password are separate from the ones you made with your Rapid Rewards account. This is also when you’ll input the number for your Rapid Rewards account you made a few minutes ago:
Finally, you’ll be given the opportunity to add your first card to the network. This might feel sketchy, but Rewards Network is an extremely trustworthy program operated in conjunction with your card’s issuer, so you shouldn’t feel any real concern about registering your card:
You may add additional cards to your account by going to the Account Center page once this sign-up process is complete. Once again, I recommend adding all of the cards you use regularly so you’ll always earn extra points!
3) Enjoy Something Delicious!
Rapid Rewards Dining offers a bonus of 1,000 points after your first $25 purchase at a participating merchant.
This bonus is awarded in addition to the 3 points per $1 you normally earn with Rapid Rewards Dining, plus any miles you earn on the card you pay with! To this point, Rapid Rewards Dining essentially matches the dining programs of other airlines. What sets it apart is that Rapid Rewards Dining offers 10 miles per $1 if you fill out a simple review after your meal! This is not matched by any other dining program, and is an incredible value given how easy it is to fill out a review.
After you’ve completed a meal at a participating merchant, you’ll receive an email confirming how many points you earned on the meal. That email will have a link offering you the chance to leave a review of the merchant. The review process is about a dozen questions in length and takes all of 60 seconds to complete unless you’d like to leave particularly detailed feedback for the merchant:
I’d recommend always filling out a review given that it elevates your earnings from 3 miles per $1 to an incredible 13 miles per $1!.
Let’s say you spend exactly $25 and earn the 1,000 bonus points offered for joining Rapid Rewards Dining. You’ll earn not only that bonus but an extra 13 miles per $1 for that meal, adding up to a total of 1,325 points for one meal. Add that to the 2,000 points earned for simply creating a Rapid Rewards account and you’re at a total of 3,325 points. That’s more than what we need for that flight to Montego Bay!
A wide variety of Southwest flights are also available for less than the 3,325 points we earned so easily. For example, here’s a set of flights from Jacksonville to Atlanta:
People often ask me how they can get started earning and using points and miles to save money on travel. I can think of no better way to get started than this. For simply creating an account and eating one affordable meal at a restaurant you probably already frequent, you can earn enough miles for a free flight! Best of all, you don’t need to use any particular type of credit or debit card or do any flying in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
The huge bonus paid out for leaving reviews clearly sets Rapid Rewards Dining apart from the competition, in my opinion, as do the bonuses you can earn for continued dining. After spending roughly $116 at participating restaurants, you’ll earn an extra 500 bonus points. After that, for every $77 in money you spend through the program, you’ll earn 300 bonus points. Those bonuses are contingent on you filling out reviews, but they’re incredibly easy and you have 30 days to do so after eating at the restaurant, so there’s no reason that’s not doable.
Thousands of restaurants and bars participate in Rapid Rewards Dining. In my hometown of Jacksonville, nearly 80 participating locations can be found, including many local favorite bars and restaurants. The same is true across the country, with a sprinkle of national chains and local merchants making the list. I often dine at participating restaurants without even realizing it, only to earn bonus points after the fact! Who knew earning free travel could be so delicious?