Is The Southwest Credit Card Worth It? A Detailed Look

The Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards from Chase have become extremely popular among frequent Southwest flyers. With generous sign-up bonuses, anniversary points, and other perks, they seem like a no-brainer for Southwest loyalists.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Getting the Southwest credit card is worth it for most frequent Southwest flyers due to the sign-up bonus, anniversary points, and other benefits that can lead to free flights and travel perks.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Southwest credit cards’ benefits, point value and redemption, and whether the annual fee is justified for different types of travelers.

Overview of the Southwest Credit Cards

Rapid Rewards Plus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is a great starter card for those looking to earn Southwest points. With this card, you’ll earn 2x points on all Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases, and 3,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when redeeming points for flights. This card has a $69 annual fee that is waived the first year. Overall, this is a solid card for casual Southwest flyers who want to boost their points earning.

Rapid Rewards Premier

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card packs a bigger punch for frequent Southwest flyers. With this card, you’ll earn 2x points on all Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases, 6,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, and 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary each year.

The biggest perk is you’ll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) for every $10,000 spent on the card, up to 15,000 TQPs per year, which can help you qualify for Southwest’s coveted A-List status faster. There’s a $99 annual fee for this card.

Rapid Rewards Priority

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is designed for Southwest loyalists who want premium perks. With this card, you’ll earn 2x points on all Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases, 7,500 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, and 7,500 bonus points on each cardmember anniversary.

You’ll also get a $75 Southwest travel credit each year, 4 upgraded boardings per year (subject to availability), 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi, and 25% points rebate when redeeming points for Southwest flights. There’s a higher $149 annual fee for this premium card.

Business Version

Southwest also offers a Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card targeted at small business owners. This card mimics the personal Premier card, with 2x points on Southwest purchases, 1x points on other purchases, 6,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, and 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary each year.

There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions. A major benefit is that points earned with this card will count towards a Companion Pass which allows someone to fly free with the cardholder. There is a $99 annual fee.

Sign-Up Bonuses

Current Public Offers

Southwest currently offers new cardmembers the opportunity to earn up to 90,000 Rapid Rewards points as a sign-up bonus. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card offers 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

The more premium Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card provides a bigger bonus of 90,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months according to Southwest. These generous bonuses can score new cardholders lots of free flights.

Worth Getting the Bonus Often?

While the signup bonuses on Southwest cards are enticing, you can typically only earn a given bonus once every 2 years per card. However, some strategies like applying for business and personal versions can allow more frequent bonuses.

It’s worth crunching the numbers to see if pursuing a new bonus makes sense based on your spending and travel patterns. A good rule of thumb is if you can organically spend enough annually to offset the bonus value, keeping the card long-term is preferable to bouncing between bonuses.

But for infrequent Southwest flyers, periodically getting the bonus can pay off.

Earning Points with the Southwest Cards

One of the major benefits of having a Southwest credit card is the ability to earn points that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, and other travel expenses. Southwest offers several different credit cards that cater to different spending habits and travel preferences.

Let’s take a look at how you can earn points with these cards.

Bonus Categories

The Southwest credit cards typically offer bonus points on specific categories of spending. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases, as well as on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.

This can be a great way to earn points quickly if you frequently travel with Southwest or use their partner services.

Furthermore, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 2 points per dollar spent on dining and eligible delivery services, including takeout and dining out, making it a great option for foodies who want to maximize their rewards.

Anniversary Points

Another perk of having a Southwest credit card is the annual bonus points you receive on your cardholder anniversary. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers 3,000 bonus points each year on your account anniversary, while the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 6,000 bonus points.

These anniversary points can add up over time and help you reach your travel goals faster.

Rapid Rewards Portal

In addition to earning points through credit card spending, Southwest cardholders also have access to the Rapid Rewards portal. This online shopping portal allows you to earn even more points by making purchases from a wide range of retailers.

Simply log in to your Rapid Rewards account, click on the “Earn” tab, and then select “Shop Online.” From there, you can browse through the available retailers and earn bonus points on your purchases.

Pro tip: Keep an eye out for special promotions where you can earn even more bonus points through the Rapid Rewards portal. These promotions can be a great way to boost your points balance and get closer to your next vacation.

Redeeming Southwest Points

Southwest Airlines offers a variety of options for redeeming your hard-earned points. Whether you’re looking to book a flight, upgrade your seat, or enjoy other travel perks, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program provides flexibility and value.

Getting the Most Value from Points

When it comes to redeeming Southwest points, there are a few strategies that can help you maximize their value. One of the best ways to get the most out of your points is by booking flights during off-peak times or taking advantage of Southwest’s frequent promotions.

By timing your travel wisely, you can stretch your points even further and save on airfare.

Another way to get great value from your Southwest points is by booking Wanna Get Away fares. These fares typically offer the best redemption rates, allowing you to stretch your points and get more flights for your buck.

Plus, with no blackout dates or seat restrictions, you have the freedom to choose the flights that work best for you.

Additionally, Southwest offers the option to use points for hotel stays, car rentals, and even gift cards. This can be a great way to use your points if you’re not planning on traveling in the near future.

Just keep in mind that the value you get from these redemptions may vary, so it’s important to compare the options and choose what works best for you.

Tips for Booking Award Flights

Booking award flights with Southwest is easy and straightforward. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your points:

  • Be flexible with your travel dates and destinations. By being open to different options, you increase your chances of finding award availability.
  • Book early. Award seats are limited, so it’s best to secure your flight as soon as possible.
  • Consider booking one-way flights. This allows you to mix and match fares, potentially saving you more points.
  • Keep an eye out for promotions and flash sales. Southwest often offers discounted award flights, allowing you to get even more value from your points.

Remember, your Southwest points are a valuable currency that can be used to enhance your travel experience. By following these tips and staying up to date with the latest promotions, you can make the most of your Southwest Credit Card and enjoy the benefits it has to offer.

Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most coveted perks in the travel rewards industry. It allows you to bring a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free (excluding taxes and fees) for the duration of your pass.

This can be an incredible value, especially for frequent travelers and couples.

How to Earn It

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass requires meeting certain criteria. To qualify, you need to earn 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. This can be achieved through a combination of flights booked with Southwest Airlines and points earned from Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses, spending, and other eligible activities.

One of the fastest ways to earn the Companion Pass is by signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. These cards often come with generous sign-up bonuses that can help you earn a significant number of points right off the bat.

Additionally, using the credit card for everyday purchases can help you accumulate points more quickly.

It’s important to note that not all points earned with Southwest count towards the Companion Pass. Only base points earned from flights, partner activity, and qualifying Rapid Rewards credit card purchases count towards the 125,000-point requirement.

Bonus points earned from promotions, tier bonuses, or other sources do not count.

Maximizing the Companion Pass

Once you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass, there are several strategies you can employ to maximize its value. Here are a few tips:

  • Plan Trips Strategically: Look for opportunities to book flights during peak travel times or expensive routes, as the Companion Pass can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in airfare.
  • Share the Pass: The Companion Pass is not tied to a specific individual, so you can change your designated companion up to three times per calendar year. This means you can share the pass with family members, friends, or even colleagues.
  • Combine with Southwest’s Low Fare Calendar: Southwest offers a Low Fare Calendar feature on their website, which allows you to view the cheapest flights available. By combining the Companion Pass with this tool, you can find incredible deals for both you and your companion.

Ultimately, whether the Southwest Credit Card is worth it depends on your travel habits and goals. If you frequently fly with Southwest and have a reliable companion to travel with, the Companion Pass can provide tremendous value and savings.

It’s important to consider your spending habits, the annual fee associated with the credit card, and the potential benefits you can unlock with the Companion Pass.

For more information on earning and maximizing the Southwest Companion Pass, you can visit the official Southwest Airlines website at www.southwest.com.

Southwest Credit Cards Perks

Checked Bags

One of the most significant perks of having a Southwest Credit Card is the ability to check your bags for free. Depending on the type of card you have, you can enjoy this benefit for yourself and up to three travel companions.

This perk can save you a substantial amount of money, especially if you frequently travel with checked luggage.

According to a study conducted by TravelPulse, the average cost of checking a bag on domestic flights is around $30. If you were to take just two round-trip flights a year, you could save up to $120 on baggage fees alone.

This makes the Southwest Credit Card a great option for frequent travelers who want to save money.

In-Flight Discounts

Another perk of the Southwest Credit Card is the access to in-flight discounts. Cardholders can enjoy savings on drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi while onboard a Southwest Airlines flight. This can be a great way to enhance your travel experience without breaking the bank.

According to a survey conducted by Airfarewatchdog, the average cost of in-flight Wi-Fi is around $10 per hour. With the Southwest Credit Card, you can enjoy discounts on this service, allowing you to stay connected without spending a fortune.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

If you frequently travel internationally, the Southwest Credit Card can be an excellent choice due to its lack of foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards charge a fee of around 3% for transactions made in a foreign currency, which can quickly add up during your travels.

According to a report by CreditCards.com, the average foreign transaction fee is 2.8%. By using a Southwest Credit Card, you can avoid this fee and save money on every purchase you make abroad.

Annual Fee

The Southwest Credit Card is a popular choice among frequent travelers due to its generous rewards program and travel benefits. However, one important factor to consider before applying for this card is the annual fee.

Is It Worth Paying?

The annual fee for the Southwest Credit Card ranges from $69 to $149, depending on the specific card and its benefits. While this may seem like a significant amount, it’s essential to weigh the potential benefits against the cost.

One of the primary benefits of the Southwest Credit Card is the opportunity to earn valuable Southwest Rapid Rewards points. These points can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and more.

Depending on your spending habits and travel preferences, the value of these rewards can outweigh the annual fee.

Additionally, the Southwest Credit Card offers other perks such as priority boarding, free checked bags, and anniversary bonus points. These benefits can enhance your travel experience and save you money in the long run.

If you frequently fly with Southwest and take advantage of these perks, the annual fee may be well worth it.

It’s also important to consider your overall financial situation and budget. If paying an annual fee would cause financial strain or if you don’t anticipate using the card frequently enough to maximize the rewards, it may be wise to explore other credit card options without an annual fee.

Downgrading vs. Cancelling

If you currently have a Southwest Credit Card and are unsure about whether to continue paying the annual fee, you have the option to downgrade your card instead of canceling it entirely.

Downgrading to a lower-tier Southwest Credit Card with a lower annual fee can be a smart move if you still want to enjoy some of the card’s benefits without paying a higher fee. This allows you to maintain your relationship with the credit card issuer and potentially continue earning rewards.

However, if you decide that the annual fee is no longer worth it and you don’t want to keep any version of the Southwest Credit Card, canceling the card is also an option. Keep in mind that canceling a credit card can impact your credit score, so consider this aspect before making a decision.

Ultimately, whether or not the Southwest Credit Card annual fee is worth it depends on your individual circumstances and travel habits. Take the time to evaluate the benefits, compare them to the fee, and consider your financial situation before making a decision.

Alternatives to Consider

General Travel Rewards Cards

If you’re looking for a credit card that offers more flexibility and a wider range of redemption options, there are several general travel rewards cards that might be worth considering. These cards typically earn points or miles that can be used for various types of travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars, and more.

One popular option is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers a generous sign-up bonus and allows cardholders to transfer points to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs. Another great option is the American Express Platinum Card, which offers a range of travel perks and benefits, including access to airport lounges and statement credits for travel expenses.

When comparing these cards to the Southwest Credit Card, it’s important to consider your own travel preferences and spending habits. If you frequently fly with Southwest and value the airline’s perks and benefits, the Southwest Credit Card may still be the best choice for you.

However, if you prefer more flexibility and a wider range of redemption options, a general travel rewards card may be a better fit.

Other Airline Cards

If you’re specifically interested in earning rewards with other airlines, there are a number of co-branded airline credit cards to consider. These cards are typically offered in partnership with specific airlines and allow cardholders to earn miles or points that can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, and other travel-related expenses.

For example, the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card offers a range of benefits for Delta Air Lines customers, including priority boarding, free checked bags, and access to airport lounges. Similarly, the United Explorer Card offers perks like free checked bags and two United Club passes per year.

When comparing these airline cards to the Southwest Credit Card, it’s important to consider factors such as the availability of flights from your home airport, the value of the rewards program, and any additional perks or benefits that may be offered.

Take the time to research and compare the different options to find the card that best aligns with your travel needs and preferences.

Conclusion

The Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards offer a lot of value through their sign-up bonuses, anniversary points, Companion Pass, and other benefits. For Southwest devotees, having one of these cards for the perks is a no-brainer.

Occasional Southwest flyers need to evaluate if the annual fee is justified by their flight habits and ability to maximize the other benefits. But for most frequent Southwest travelers, the cards are well worth having.

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