I fly from North Carolina to Orlando three to four times each year to visit Walt Disney World, and I almost never pay for airfare on Southwest.
How do I pull this off? I fly for practically free using points earned from a Chase Southwest credit card.
And right now there is an offer of 50,000 points after you meet the minimum spending requirement.
That’s enough for over $800 in free flights on Southwest!
In this post, I’ll show you how to earn tons of Southwest points and how to use them to visit your favorite destination more often.
How I Earn Southwest Points
Southwest’s frequent flier program is called Rapid Rewards.
The two main ways I’ve earned Rapid Reward points are by:
- Opening a Southwest credit card
- Referring friends to this card
These are both ways that you, too, can earn points and fly to Orlando (or anywhere) for practically free, and I’ll explain them in detail below.
Chase now offers four different Southwest cards, and when you open one and meet the minimum spending requirement, you’ll earn a huge number of Rapid Rewards points.
The first card I opened many years ago was the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa, and it is still my favorite card!
I like that the annual fee is only $69 and I get 3,000 points each year when I pay the annual fee.
This card gets almost all of the same benefits as cards with a higher annual fee!
Click here to learn how to apply and compare airline credit cards.
The newest offer for this card is for 50,000 points after spending only $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
These points are likely more than enough to fly your family to Orlando for almost free!
All you’ll have to do is pay the $69 annual fee and use the card for your regular spending.
- You will NOT be approved for this card if you have opened more than four new credit cards (with any bank) in the last 24 months, regardless of your credit score. This is called Chase’s “5/24 rule” and it applies to almost all of their cards now.
- You can only earn the bonus points if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.
- I only recommend opening a new credit card if you have a history of using credit responsibly and paying your bills on time.
What Are Southwest Points Worth In Money?
Above is a comparison of points versus cash for the same (very cheap) flight to Orlando (MCO) from my home airport, RDU.
As you can see, the $49 flight will use 2,510 points. So for this flight, 2500 points are worth roughly $50 in value.
As you can see, this bonus is worth FAR more than a standard credit card welcome bonus of $200-$500.
How Far Will 50,000 Southwest Points Go?
The reason I am able to visit Walt Disney World several times each year and still have points to spare is that I use them wisely!
My secret is to use the “Flexible Dates” search option on Southwest’s site which you can find on the homepage – it is circled in red in the image above.
Searching by the month will show you the best dates to travel to get the most out of your points. As you can see, I can fly to Orlando from Raleigh Durham for only 3,081 points on many days in June.
When you redeem your points for a flight, you will still have to pay a $5.60 security fee each way. So a round-trip flight to Orlando to visit Disney World costs me $11.20 per person.
You can apply for the Southwest Plus Visa here.
Does The Southwest Card Have An Annual Fee?
There is a $69 annual fee for this card that is not waived the first year.
However, you will receive 3,000 points every year on your cardmember anniversary.
So you won’t be paying the annual fee for nothing, which is why I keep this card in my wallet year after year.
Can I Get Both a Personal Card & a Business Card?
Yes! This is exactly how I earned my companion pass the first time.
If you run a small business or have a side hustle, you may be able to qualify for a Chase Southwest Small Business Card in addition to a Chase Personal Card.
If you do anything that makes money aside from your main job, then you likely can qualify for a small business card. This includes:
- Selling things on Etsy or eBay
- Blogging or freelancing
- Driving for Uber or Lyft
- Hosting on Airbnb
Basically, anything that has the potential to turn a profit can allow you to qualify for a small business card. Your personal credit report will be pulled for the application and you personally are liable for spending on the card.
I earned a whopping 80,000 points after opening my Southwest Performance Small Business Card. There is an annual fee of $199 (not waived the first year) but this card has incredible benefits, including:
- TSA Precheck Credit
- Annual anniversary points
- Four upgraded boardings per year
I feel like I am getting tremendous value from my small business card and plan on keeping it from year-to-year.
How Do I Earn Point By Referring Friends?
The other main way I earn Southwest points for our travel to Disney World is by referring my friends (and readers here on the blog) to the Southwest card.
I genuinely love this card and the benefits it provides. I think you will, too, and you will want to share the card with your friends and family!
You can get a unique referral link for your Southwest card on the Chase site here, and start sharing your link. If someone signs up for the card through your link, you’ll get 10,000 points deposited into your account. This is a great way to earn points year after year just by sharing about a product that you love!
When Will I Get My Bonus Points?
Your points will be automatically deposited into your Rapid Rewards account a few days after the end of the billing cycle during which you met the spending requirement.
Then you are ready to start booking flights!
How Will Opening This Card Affect My Credit Score?
One common concern folks have about opening new credit cards is how it will affect their credit score.
I regularly open new cards to earn signup bonuses and my score has done nothing but rise over the years to over 800.
This is because when you open a new line of credit your overall credit limit increases (good for your credit score), which means if you ever carry any balance your debt-to-credit ratio goes down (also good for your credit score).
Opening a new card like this is particularly helpful if you plan to keep it for many years to come- which I recommend that you do to get your annual point bonus!
This will eventually increase the average age of your credit lines, also increasing your credit score.
What Else To Consider About the Southwest Credit Card
Here are some other points to consider about flying with points on Southwest:
- You can change or cancel your award flight at any point with no penalty (unlike other airlines which charge hefty change fees)
- There are three other cards you can add to your wallet and you can earn the sign-on bonus on each card
- The sign-on bonus from the cards counts towards earning a Companion Pass, which can stretch your miles even farther!
I hope this post showed you how I am able to fly to Disney World several times each year for practically free.
I have helped several readers through the process of opening a Southwest credit card to earn points and I am happy to answer any questions you might have!
You can leave a comment on this post or contact me here.
Check out these related posts:
- Walt Disney World Swan Hotel: How To Stay For Free
- How To Earn $$$ For Your Disney Vacation with Chase Sapphire Preferred
Monday 7th of November 2022
I've never flown using points. On SW it shows the price/points for the to and from, but can you split bill? Like use your points for coming home and pay out for the flight there? It's actually cheaper to fly in and I can see paying to get there and using points to fly back. It's from Dallas so it's pretty pricey.
Tuesday 8th of November 2022
Hi Christina! Yes, you can definitely book one way on points and pay cash for the other. I do this often!
Saturday 27th of July 2019
Thanks for explaining how you do it! I'm considering applying. Would love to fly to WDW for free!
Tuesday 2nd of April 2019
Are you eligible to book using partial points/ partial payment. It's looking like we will need a little over 43,000 points to fly round trip (family of 3 from STL- which seems way higher, but now the normal according to their low fare calendar). I'm assuming I'll have about 41,000 points after the bonus & normal points per dollar spent at first. Wondering if they'll turn the remaining 2,000 points into a dollar amount- or if they will even let me book without the full amount of points needed. Any experience on this? TIA!!
Wednesday 3rd of April 2019
Ok, Andrea, I have a few ideas for you. First, you unfortunately cannot book with partial points on Southwest. But I think you can definitely get everyone there. Southwest runs fare sales often and some are better than others. The current fare sale isn't very good so be sure to sign up for SW's email alerts to get notified of new sales. This alone will likely get you into the 41,000 point territory. If not, it is easy to earn points through https://rapidrewardsshopping.southwest.com/ Recently I paid $19 for a one-month subscription to the Motley Fool for $19 and earned 5,400 points. So it is easy to get the extra points with offers here. Finally, if you find you are a bit short on points, just book the two roundtrips together and one leg of the third ticket, then pay cash for the return leg of the third ticket. The prices are the same on one-way and roundtrip so you won't be losing any benefit. Hope that helps!
Friday 22nd of March 2019
Hi Leah, Just found your sites and loving the info! Unlike my normal trips to Disney, we are now having to REALLY budget to go. SOooooo, I have a question about the Southwest Card and the points. If I sign up for the card now, and use it to get the $1000 in the 3 months, which I can do in 1 day probably by paying bills with it, can I use the points right away? We are going in June so it would be awesome if I can use those points for free airfare right away!!!!!!!!!! We are DVC Members, so no $$$ for lodging, if we can swing this airfare for free, then all I have to pay for is food and the conference I am hoping to go to.
Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful tips and tricks. LOVE them!
Friday 22nd of March 2019
Thanks, Jill! So the way the bonus works is that you will earn the points in the month that you meet the minimum spending requirement. The points typically post to your Southwest account 5-7 days after the end of that billing cycle. It takes about a week to get the card and another 3-4 weeks after that for the points to appear in your account if you meet the spending requirement in month 1. Hope that helps - I love the card and have had it for many years.
Frugal Travel Challenge: Disney World Vacation for a Family of 4 for $200 - The Frugal South
Friday 8th of February 2019
[…] You can read all about using this card for cheap travel to Disney World in this post! […]