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Rewards Programs

Get a Companion Pass when you sign up for a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card

Southwest's line of personal co-branded cards will earn you a Companion Pass if you spend $5,000 in the first three months

Summary

If you’re looking for a good way to travel cheaply, 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: the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. After spending $5,000 in the first three months, cardholders can earn 30,000 points, plus a Companion Pass that’s valid through Feb. 28, 2022.

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 bonusEarn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.Earn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.Earn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Annual fee$69$99$149
Average yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend)$680$698$747

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 bonus30,000 points x 1.6 cents = $48030,000 points x 1.6 cents = $48030,000 points x 1.6 cents = $480
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$480 + $48 = $528$480+ $96 = $576$480 + $120 = $600

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.

Southwest Plus card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Feb. 9, 2021Earn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Dec. 1, 2020
  • 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • An additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months
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

Southwest Premier card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Feb. 9, 2021Earn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Dec. 1, 2020
  • 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • An additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months
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

Southwest Priority card recent changes

Change dateSign-up bonus
Feb. 9, 2021Earn a Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2022), plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
Dec. 1, 2020
  • 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • An additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months
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

Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

The Plus, Premier and Priority sign-up bonuses include a Companion Pass – easily one of the best features that 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.

If you earn the Companion Pass as part of a sign-up bonus, it will be valid through Feb. 28, 2022. This is a shorter time period than if you earn the Companion Pass by racking up Rapid Rewards points. But if you plan on flying Southwest in the next year, it’s still an incredible value.

To qualify for a Companion Pass outside of the sign-up bonus, you must earn 125,000 points or make 100 one-way flights within one calendar year.

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 if you have the Priority card, for instance, you are not eligible for the bonus if you are already a Southwest Premier or Plus cardholder. Current cardholders 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 time frame, 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 30,000-point sign-up bonus
Wanna Get Away fare1.6 cents$480
Anytime fare1.1 cents$330
Business Select fare0.9 cents$270
$100 gift card1 cent$300
$50 gift card0.83 cents$249
Car rental0.7 cents$210
Merchandise0.6 cents$180
Hotel0.2 cents$60

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, now might be the time to apply for a Southwest card. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to spend $5,000 in the first three months to score the coveted Companion Pass

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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