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Southwest credit cards: Which Rapid Rewards card is best for you?

Using a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card is one of the best ways to maximize your Rapid Rewards points

Summary

Chase and Southwest Airlines offer three personal and two small business credit cards that offer Rapid Rewards points. These credit cards range from simple cards with low annual fees to premium cards that offer greater rewards and benefits.

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Southwest Airlines attracts a loyal following among travelers who appreciate its vast route network and no-fee approach to things like checked bags and ticket changes. And by using one of the five Southwest credit cards from Chase, you can earn Rapid Rewards points toward award flights. When you pay for your tickets with Rapid Rewards points, your travel on Southwest Airlines suddenly goes from affordable to nearly nothing, just costing you the price of taxes and government fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best for minimizing annual fees

With an annual fee of just $69, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus is the least expensive card in the lineup. However, new applicants can still earn 40,000 bonus points after spending just $1,000 on the card within three months of account opening. And, crucially, those 40,000 points count toward the 125,000 you need to earn in a calendar year to receive Southwest’s incredible Companion Pass.

Your ongoing rewards rate will be 2X points on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partners. You earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere, and you’ll receive 3,000 bonus points, worth approximately $40 toward airfare on Southwest, each year on the anniversary of when your account was opened.

This card makes sense for those who want to easily earn 40,000 bonus points (after spending $1,000 in the first three months). But this card stands out from the other Rapid Rewards cards by only charging a $69 annual fee, while all other Rapid Rewards cards have fees of $99 or more. The other thing that’s different about this card is that it has a 3% foreign transaction fee imposed on all charges processed outside the United States. If you plan on a lot of international travel, this isn’t the best card to use when you leave the country.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Best for keeping costs down

The Premier version of the Rapid Rewards card is very similar to the Plus version. At $99, the annual fee is $30 more than the Plus card, but you get 6,000 bonus points each year on your cardmember anniversary. This is twice as much as the Plus card and easily worth the extra $30 in cost. The other difference is that the Premier card has no foreign transaction fees, so there’s no additional cost to using it on your next trip outside the U.S.

Another benefit of the Premier card over the Plus card is the chance to earn tier qualifying points (TQP) toward elite status. You’ll earn 1,500 TQP for each $10,000 in purchases, up to $100,000 in purchases annually, which equals 15,000 TQP. This will allow you to reach A-List or A-List Preferred each year with fewer flights or dollars spent on Southwest tickets.

Otherwise, you can still earn the 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card within three months of account opening. Likewise, this card offers 2X points on Southwest purchases, hotel and car rental partners, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. If you’re willing to spend the additional $30 on the annual fee, you’ll make it up on bonus points and enjoy no foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best for frequent Southwest flyers

The Priority card is the top-of-the-line card that’s ideal for frequent Southwest flyers. While it has an annual fee of $149, you’ll find that the card more than makes up for it by offering you both points and perks. For example, you’ll receive four free upgraded boardings each calendar year when available. This allows you to upgrade your boarding position at the gate to A1–A15, which normally costs $30, $40 or $50 per flight. You’ll also receive 7,500 bonus points each year on your account anniversary, worth over $100 in Southwest travel, as well as a $75 annual travel credit.

These benefits come on top of everything you receive from the Premier card, including 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card within three months of account opening. You also earn 2X points on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere, as well as 1,500 TQP for every $10,000 spent each year (on up to $100,000).

For the additional $50 in annual fees beyond the Premier card, the Priority card offers you at least $120 worth in upgraded boarding, plus 1,500 additional bonus points each year on your account anniversary. That’s a fantastic value for those who are willing to spend a little more on the annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Best for budget business travelers

The Premier Business card is the less expensive of the two Rapid Rewards cards offered to small-business owners. Yet this card offers new applicants the chance to earn a generous bonus. You earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within three months of account opening.

When using the card, you and your employees will earn 2X points on Southwest purchases and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. You’ll also receive 6,000 bonus points, worth approximately $80 toward airfare on Southwest, each year on the anniversary of when your account was opened. And like the personal version of the Premier card, you can earn 1,500 TQP for every $10,000 spent each year (on up to $100,000). The card comes with a $99 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best for frequent business travelers

This Southwest card is the most full-featured Rapid Rewards card offered, and it includes some extremely valuable perks and bonus point offers. New applicants earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening. Reach that, and you’ll be more than halfway toward earning a Companion Pass. You’ll also receive up to 365 credits a year toward in-flight Wi-Fi service, which is normally $8 per day. Then there are the four upgraded boardings per year that typically sell for $30, $40 or $50 per flight. Another valuable perk is a $100 credit toward an application for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years.

But this is also a great card to use for your business purchases. Not only do you earn 3X points for Southwest purchases, but you also earn 2X for each dollar spent on social media and search engine advertising, as well as internet, cable television and phone services.

As with the Premier Business card, you’ll earn 1,500 TQP for every $10,000 spent each year (on up to $100,000), but you’ll receive 9,000 bonus points, which is worth at least $120 in Southwest flights, each year on your account anniversary. There’s a $199 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

CardRewards rateBest for
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on dining for the first year
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Minimizing annual fees
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on dining for the first year
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Keeping costs down
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 3 points per dollar on dining for the first year
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Frequent Southwest flyers
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Budget business travelers
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising, internet and cable and phone services
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Frequent business travelers

Bottom line

With three different consumer cards and two for business owners, the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards offer great choices and are among the best airline credit cards available. Also, there’s only an $80 difference between the most affordable Southwest consumer card and the most expensive one, and just a $100 difference between the two Rapid Rewards small-business cards, which isn’t a huge difference. By taking a close look at each card’s rewards, benefits and fees and how they match up with your spending and travel habits, you’ll be sure to find the right card for you.

*The information about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. 

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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