Earn up to 60,000 bonus points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

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Chase has boosted the sign-up bonuses for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Now – in addition to earning 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months – cardholders can earn an extra 20,000 points when they spend a total of $12,000 in the first year of card membership. The limited-time promotion, worth up to 60,000 points, is available to applicants who sign up between Nov. 13, 2018 and Jan. 9, 2019.

Along with their sign-up bonuses, the Southwest cards offer several other opportunities to earn Rapid Rewards points. Read on to see how, by combining the bonuses and credit card referrals, you can potentially earn enough points to reach the ultimate perk: the Southwest Companion Pass.

Which Southwest card is better in the first year?

Due to the similarities among the Plus, Premier and Priority cards, it may be difficult to tell which one is better during the first year. As you can see from the following table, the cards share identical sign-up bonuses and rewards rates.

The biggest difference is the cards’ annual fees.

Comparing Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

  Southwest Plus card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Premier
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Priority
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Rewards rate
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
Annual fee $69 $99 $149
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend) $1,145 $1,115 $1,065

So why opt for the Premier or Priority card over the Plus card, given that the estimated first-year values of those cards are lower than that of the Plus card? The main reason is the cards’ annual bonuses.

Account anniversary bonuses

The Priority card offers 7,500 bonus points each year on your account anniversary, while the Premier card offers 6,000 bonus points and the Plus card offers 3,000 bonus points.

We value each Rapid Rewards point at 1.6 cents – making the Priority card’s annual bonus worth approximately $120 and the Premier card’s bonus worth $96, practically covering the cards’ annual fees. The Plus card’s annual bonus, on the other hand is valued at $48.

Value of Southwest cards' bonuses

  Southwest Plus card Southwest Premier card Southwest Priority card
Value of sign-up bonus
60,000 points x 1.6 cents = $960 60,000 points x 1.6 cents = $960 60,000 points x 1.6 cents = $960
Value of annual bonus 3,000 points x 1.6 cents = $48 6,000 points x 1.6 cents = $96 7,500 points x 1.6 cents = $120
Total value of bonuses $960 + $48 = $1,008 $960 + $96 = $1,056 $960 + $120 = $1,080

Keep in mind that, while the sign-up bonuses are only available during the first three months of card membership, you will continue to receive the annual bonus each year on your card’s anniversary – allowing the Premier card to practically pay for itself every year.

Recent changes to the Southwest cards

Chase frequently updates the sign-up bonuses for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards – teetering between 40,000 and 60,000 points. While the Priority card, which launched in July 2018, has offered bonuses ranging from 40,000 to 65,000 points.

Southwest Plus card recent changes

Change date Sign-up bonus
Nov. 13, 2018
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
April 5, 2018 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Jan. 12, 2018 50,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Oct. 5, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 28, 2017 60,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
June 30, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
June 1, 2017 60,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
May 4, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Southwest Premier card recent changes

Change date Sign-up bonus
Nov. 13, 2018
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
April 5, 2018 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Jan. 12, 2018 50,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Oct. 5, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 28, 2017 60,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
June 30, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
June 1, 2017 60,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
April 6, 2017 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Southwest Priority card recent changes

Change date Sign-up bonus
Nov. 13, 2018
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 total in first year
  • Offer ends Jan. 9, 2019
Aug. 23, 2018 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
July 19, 2018
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 25,000 points if you spend extra an extra $15,000 in first year
  • Offer ends Aug. 22, 2018

Although the sign-up bonuses are currently on the high end, cardholders are required to spend a total of $12,000 to earn the full amount. That said, you have a full 12 months to reach the spend threshold – which should be relatively easy, considering that the average consumer charges $15,900 annually on food, gas, clothing and general purchases.

Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

The Plus, Premier and Priority sign-up bonuses can help get you closer to a companion pass – easily one of the best features the Southwest cards have to offer. The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to choose a designated person to fly free with you each time you purchase or redeem points for a flight. You will only be responsible for taxes and fees.

The companion pass is valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn the pass as well as the following full calendar year. To qualify for a companion pass, you must earn 110,000 points or make 100 one-way flights within one calendar year.

Note that most of your Rapid Rewards points count toward qualifying for the Companion Pass. This includes points earned through your Rapid Rewards credit card, points from flights booked through Southwest Airlines and base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners. However, purchased points, transferred points and points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs do not count.

Who is eligible for the sign-up bonus?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority sign-up bonuses are only available to new cardholders who have not received a new card member bonus for Southwest cards in the past 24 months. Also, Chase only allows you to own one consumer Southwest card at a time, so you are not eligible for the bonus if you are already a Southwest Premier or Plus cardholder. However, you may be eligible to upgrade to the Priority card – you just won’t be able to receive the new card member bonus.

Of course, you have to qualify for the cards first, which means you have to have a credit score in the excellent range (at least 750).

Chase doesn’t appear to have a hard limit on how many cards you own, though they may deny your application if you have too large of a credit limit across your other Chase cards. Also, while there is no strict rule on how many Chase cards you can apply for within a certain timeframe, many applicants report a limit of one to two new cards per month.

Chase has come down hard recently on applicants who open many accounts at once. Though it’s not an official policy, Chase appears to be enforcing a “5/24” rule on new credit card applications. What this means is – if you have opened at least five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer (not just Chase) – your application will likely be denied. The rule seems to apply to any credit card account that shows up on your credit report, including co-branded store cards and authorized user accounts.

On the plus side, business credit cards that don’t report to your personal credit report do not affect your chances of being approved. Therefore, if you apply for one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards along with a Southwest Business card, you may have a better chance of being approved for both cards and receiving their sign-up bonuses.

Best way to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards’ sign-up bonus

While the Southwest cards offer a few different redemption options, airfare is by far the best option. Southwest has three fare tiers: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select, with Wanna Get Away fares providing the best value.

The value per point varies by flight, but averages around 1.6 cents per point for a Wanna Get Away fare. You can get even higher values if you are flexible, shop carefully for your ticket and buy your ticket far in advance while the best-priced fares are still available. Business Select fares have a very poor value – less than 1 cent per point on average. Note, the points cover the base fare and do not include taxes and fees.

Through the More Rewards site, you have even more redemption options, including gift cards, cruises, car rentals, hotels and merchandise. All of these have a poor value – hotels are by far the worst at a mere 0.2 cents per point. Your best option on the More Rewards site is gift cards, which are worth 1 cent per point when you buy them in $100 increments or larger. However, if you want to get the most out of your bonus points, you should stick to redeeming them for airfare.

Southwest Rapid Rewards redemption options

  Average point value Value of 60,000-point sign-up bonus
Wanna Get Away fare 1.6 cents $960
Anytime fare 1.1 cents $660
Business Select fare 0.9 cents $540
$100 gift card 1 cent $600
$50 gift card .083 cents $498
Car rental 0.7 cents $420
Merchandise 0.6 cents $360
Hotel 0.2 cents $120

An extra 50,000 bonus points per year

In addition to a sign-up bonus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards offer a referral bonus worth up to 50,000 points each year.

Chase’s “Refer-a-Friend” program gives Southwest cardholders 10,000 bonus points for each person they refer who is approved for the Southwest card – up to five people per year. To take part in the promotion, enter your last name, zip code and last four digits of your credit card on Chase’s refer-a-friend page. On the following page, enter the first name and email address of each person you wish to invite. You also have the option to post an invitation link to Facebook or Twitter or refer friends through the Chase app.

Should you apply for a Southwest card now?

If you want to take advantage of the 60,000-point sign-up bonus, now is a great time to apply for the Plus, Premier or Priority cards – just be sure to do so by Jan. 9, 2019. Keep in mind, though, that Chase often offers larger sign-up bonuses for Southwest cards if you apply at the airport.

Bonus tip: If you decide to hold off on applying for a Southwest Plus, Premier or Priority card, you can still earn points in the meantime. By becoming a Rapid Rewards member, you can earn points when you fly with Southwest Airlines, stay at a partner hotel, dine at participating restaurants, shop through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal and more.

See related: Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping guideEarn up to $500 a year when you refer a friend to these cards, Credit card special offers and limited-time promotions

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we do receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy


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Updated: 11-19-2018