Airport terminal

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If you’re just starting to collect Rapid Rewards points to fly free on Southwest (download my free ebook to learn how to master this skill!), then you’ll be hard pressed to believe that one day you will run out of points. That day eventually arrived for me after I spent 155,000 bonus Southwest points + plenty more that I accumulated through everyday spending and other bonuses.

The 155,000+ points lasted us a solid year and enabled me to take four people to six destinations — not bad! But even by putting my everyday spending on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (which I recommend getting after you’ve met your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards’ minimum spend, because it gives you double points on dining and the points can be used to fly on Southwest), I was not accumulating points as fast as I wanted for the next trips I needed to book.

Here’s what you can do if you’re almost out of Southwest points:

Step 1: Try to Get Approved for a Third Southwest Credit Card

If you currently hold two Southwest credit cards, you may consider applying for a third. There are two personal cards (Premier and Plus), as well as the Premier Business card, so go for whichever you don’t have yet. Keep in mind that Chase will not approve you for any new cards if you’ve applied for more than 5 cards in the last 24 months. They also have limited me, thus far, to three total cards (I also hold Chase Sapphire Preferred), so this may not be the ticket for me.

You can also try closing one card before applying for another or if you are declined, see if they will allos you to move credit between cards. If I can get approved for a third card, and I have confirmed that it IS possible, then I’ll have another 50,000 Southwest points.

Step 2: Recruit Your Spouse

I earned the Southwest Companion Pass late in 2015, which allowed my husband to fly free with us (whether we pay in points or cash) through the end of 2016. Because you cannot earn the 50,000-point credit card bonuses again for 24 months from the time you first earned them, you cannot earn the pass using that technique again until 24 months have passed.

To fix this problem, you can have your spouse — or whomever is your Southwest Companion — apply for the Pass next and allow YOU to be THEIR companion. Plus, they can collect 50,000 for each card sign-up — Premier, Plus, Business and Chase Sapphire Preferred — potentially restocking a family with up to 200,000 points. That ought to be enough for a while :).

I have noticed that Southwest’s prices — both dollars and points — continue to rise, so it’s costing more points and dollars for any given flight. So points are not stretching quite as far.

Step 3: Use Another Airline Until Points are Accumulated

You could potentially switch to another airline by signing up for one of their cards (beware the Chase 5/24 rule, however) until you have more points.

Step 4: Start Over Again in 24 Months

You can re-earn the credit card bonuses from Chase 24 months after first earning them. If you are rotating between spouses, after their Pass expires in two years — or you run out of Southwest points —  you can re-apply and re-earn those 150,000-200,000 points and the accompanying Southwest Companion Pass. That is as long as they don’t change the rules on us. After that, we would be back at Step 1!