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Earn up to 40,000 bonus points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

A sign-up bonus is a great opportunity to earn an influx of Southwest points

Summary

If you’re looking for a good way to stock up on airline rewards to get closer to a free flight, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority cards from Chase may be your answer.

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Chase has updated the sign-up bonuses for its co-branded Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Now, cardholders who spend $1,000 in the first three months of card membership will receive 40,000 bonus points, down from 65,000 bonus points from the previous offer.

Along with their sign-up bonuses, the Southwest cards offer several other opportunities to earn Southwest 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 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 bonus40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Annual fee$69$99$149
Estimated earnings in first year ($15,900 spend)$845$815$765

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.

See related: Best Southwest credit cards

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 cardSouthwest Premier cardSouthwest Priority card
Value of points sign-up bonus40,000 points x 1.6 cents = $64040,000 points x 1.6 cents = $64040,000 points x 1.6 cents = $640
Value of annual bonus3,000 points x 1.6 cents = $486,000 points x 1.6 cents = $967,500 points x 1.6 cents = $120
Total value of bonuses$640 + $48 = $688$640 + $96 = $736$640 + $120 = $760

Keep in mind that you’ll continue to receive the annual bonus each year on your card’s anniversary – allowing the Premier card to basically pay for itself every year.

Recent changes to the Southwest cards

Chase frequently updates the sign-up bonuses for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier cards – usually teetering between 40,000 and 75,000 points. Right now, all three bonuses are at the lower end of this range.

Southwest Plus card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Sept. 15, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 13, 202065,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 11, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Jan. 9, 2020
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 35,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 6 months
Oct. 17, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Sept. 10, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 in first 12 months
Jun. 11, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
May 2, 201960,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 12, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Southwest Premier card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Sept. 15, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 13, 202065,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 11, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Jan. 9, 2020
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 35,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 6 months
Oct. 17, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Sept. 10, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 in first 12 months
Jun. 11, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
May 2, 201960,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 12, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

Southwest Priority card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Sept. 15, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Aug. 13, 202065,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 11, 202040,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Jan. 9, 2020
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 35,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 6 months
Oct. 17, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
Sept. 10, 2019
  • 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Additional 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 in first 12 months
Jun. 11, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
May 2, 201960,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months
Feb. 12, 201940,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months

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 125,000 points or make 100 one-way flights within one calendar year.

With the sign-up bonuses on any of these cards alone, you can earn over half of the points required to earn the pass.

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 cardmember 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 cardmember bonus.

Of course, you have to qualify for the cards first, which means you have to have a credit score in the good to excellent range (above 670).

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 that 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 valueValue of 40,000-point sign-up bonus
Wanna Get Away fare1.6 cents$640
Anytime fare1.1 cents$440
Business Select fare0.9 cents$360
$100 gift card1 cent$400
$50 gift card0.83 cents$332
Car rental0.7 cents$280
Merchandise0.6 cents$240
Hotel0.2 cents$80

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.

See related: Earn up to $500 a year when you refer a friend to these cards

Should you apply for a Southwest card now?

If you’re interested in earning a Companion Pass, the current 40,000-point bonus is rather low compared to the bonuses the cards previously offered. Still, it offers an opportunity to earn an influx of rewards, and the bonus alone will get you much closer to the 125,000-point threshold. Additionally, a boost of 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits is truly helpful now that the travel is limited.

On top of that, you only need to spend $1,000 to earn the bonus: A recent higher bonus offer required a $2,000 spend to earn 65,000 points. Add in the points you’ll earn via card spend and annual bonuses, and you have a decent shot at scoring this coveted perk.

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 guide

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

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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