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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!
Great Signup Bonuses
Southwest offers four 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.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 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.
Anniversary Bonus Points
All four of the Southwest cards provide bonus points on your account anniversary, to help offset the cost of holding the card for the long term.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – 7,500 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – 6,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – 6,000 points
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – 3,000 points
Folks that hold a Southwest Priority Card receive 7,500 anniversary points each year, 1,500 points more than the Premier cards. The additional 1,500 points are worth roughly $22-23, 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 around 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.
Great Way to Earn Rapid Reward Points
Southwest cardholders earn 2x points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases, as well as on certain hotel and car rental spending with Southwest travel partners.
The Southwest cards all 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.
The traditional path to the Southwest Companion Pass requires members to either fly 100 segments in a calendar year, or to accumulate 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, 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.
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 February 2019, you'd keep the pass for the rest of 2019, and all of 2020.
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 range from $149 on the Southwest Priority Card, to $99 on the Southwest Premier Card and $99 on the Southwest Premier Business Card, with the Southwest Plus Card costing $69 per year.
While the Southwest Rapid Rewards travel rewards credit cards are pretty straightforward and attractive to passengers who travel Southwest Airlines, there are few really 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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