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Southwest Airlines is regularly praised for its top value airfares and flexible rules, as well as the many destinations it services.
With redemption rates higher than industry standards, and access to industry-leading perks like the Southwest Companion Pass, these cards offer terrific value to Southwest customers.
While it makes sense for Southwest fans to hold a co-brand card, for folks that don't primarily fly Southwest or want more flexibility, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which currently offers a generous signup bonus of 60,000 points after meeting the spending requirement. The Sapphire Preferred earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to Southwest instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
Let's take a look at the benefits of the Southwest cards to see if one of these is right for you!
Chase Southwest Card Welcome Offers
Southwest offers five travel rewards credit cards.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card – Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.
Anniversary Bonus Points
All five Southwest cards provide bonus points on your account anniversary, to help offset the cost of holding the card over the long term.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – 7,500 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – 6,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – 3,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card – 9,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – 6,000 points
Folks that hold a Southwest Performance Business Card receive 9,000 points, and if you hold a Southwest Priority Card you receive 7,500 anniversary points, 1,500 points more than the Premier cards. The additional 1,500-3,000 points earned on these cards are worth ~$23-$46, about half the difference in annual fees to the cards below.
For the Southwest Premier Card and Southwest Premier Business Card, you receive a 6,000 point anniversary bonus that is awarded at the end of each account year. We look for a minimum redemption value on Rapid Rewards points of roughly 1.5 cents per point, so the additional 6,000 points effectively reduce your out of pocket expense for the card to almost zero. There is no yearly spending minimum needed to receive this bonus.
The anniversary bonus for the Southwest Plus Card is 3,000 bonus points, which goes a long way towards covering the $69 annual fee.
How Many Rapid Reward Points Will I Earn?
The Southwest Performance Business Card earns the most points for purchases from the airline with 3x earning on Southwest purchases (including select hotel and car rental purchases made through Southwest). It also offers extra points for some popular small-business categories, including 2X on social-media- and search-engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
Chase has also launched a temporary increase to the earning rates for the Southwest personal cards: Earn 5 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month.
Outside of the promo earning rate, the Southwest cards earn 2X on Southwest purchases and don't come with any additional bonus categories. All five of the Southwest cards earn 1 point for every dollar spent, in every other category, all year long. There is no limit to the number of points that you can earn, and the points you receive will never expire.
Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most sought-after perks in award travel. It allows the pass-holder to take a companion on every Southwest flight, free of charge, for at least one year. This includes both revenue tickets and award flights paid with Rapid Rewards points.
In the past, the path to the Southwest Companion Pass required members to either fly 100 segments in a calendar year or to accumulate 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. But Southwest recently increased the required points to 125,000 to earn the Companion Pass, no easy feat. While that may appear out of reach for the casual Southwest traveler, there is a shortcut via the Southwest credit cards. From the Southwest T&C's:
Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.
So any points earned on your Southwest co-brand credit cards, including the signup bonus, will count towards the Companion Pass. The other thing to note is that if you earn the Companion Pass early in the year, you get to keep it for the rest of that year, and the entire next year. For example, if you received the pass in March 2020, you'd keep the pass for the rest of 2020, and all of 2021. Catch all the details in our post covering Companion Pass strategies for 2020 and 2021.
Easy Redemption Process
Redeeming your Rapid Rewards points with Southwest Airlines is easy. Book your flights, and opt for using your points during the reservation process. There are no blackout dates, and as long as there's a seat available on the flight, it’s yours if you have the points. Other travel rewards programs have significant limitations on when and how you can use the points, so this is a breath of fresh air.
Annual fees on the Southwest cards will set you back:
- $199 on the Southwest Performance Business Card
- $149 on the Southwest Priority Card
- $99 on the Southwest Premier Card
- $99 on the Southwest Premier Business Card
- $69 on the Southwest Plus Card
While the Southwest Rapid Rewards travel rewards credit cards are pretty straightforward and attractive to passengers who travel Southwest Airlines, there are few high-end perks to look forward to. There are no travel partners that you can creatively combine points with to get even more flexibility and value out of your points, but you can get your money’s worth out of the cards if you are a frequent Southwest traveler and want to keep things as simple as possible.
You can earn a lot of points, and redeeming them is fairly simple. It can also be very valuable if you achieve the Companion Pass and these cards are now the fastest way to get there.
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