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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 100,000 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 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
- 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 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 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 points are typically worth between 1.35 and 1.40 cents each, so you're looking at $13.50 in savings for every 1,000 points. Here are the extra points you get with each card and their approximate value.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – 7,500 points ($101.25)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – 6,000 points ($81.00)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – 3,000 points ($40.50)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card – 9,000 points ($121.50)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – 6,000 points ($81.00)
There are no yearly spending minimums or other requirements to earn these extra points—just keep your card open and pay the annual fee. Since Rapid Rewards points don't expire, most Southwest flyers should count these bonus points at close to face value. They'll be safe in your frequent-flyer account until you're ready to convert them into travel savings.
For the cards with an annual fee under $100, the anniversary bonus comes within $20-30 of covering the cost of keeping the card long term. For the more frequent Southwest flyers, the Southwest Priority Card and Southwest Performance Business Card bring a slew of additional perks that can make them worthwhile.
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.
The other 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.
Recently, Southwest announced temporary changes to Companion Pass requirements due to Covid, offering 25,000 bonus points towards the Companion Pass, effectively reducing the number of points required to earn the Companion Pass in 2021 to 100,000 points. When you factor in the current bonuses on the Southwest cards, it is much easier for travelers to qualify via credit cards than in past years.
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 2021, you'd keep the pass for the rest of 2021, and all of 2022. Catch all the details in our post covering Companion Pass strategies for 2021 and 2022.
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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