Which Southwest Credit Card Should You Get? [Personal Cards]


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Yes, I know that most people aren’t flying anywhere right now and that a lot of people are focusing on cash back credit cards (rather than miles and points credit cards), but if you’re planning of flying with Southwest once this pandemic is over and you have your eye on the reduced status and Companion Pass targets that were announced earlier this year, this will be useful information.

Southwest offers 3 personal credit cards through its partnership with Chase, and deciding on which Southwest Card is best for you will depend on your travel patterns and what you aim to achieve by applying for the credit card – a card that’s great in the short-term may not be quite so good in the long term.

These are the three cards that Chase issues:

And here’s an overview of what these three credit cards offer:

Click to enlarge

Before I go on to discuss the difference between these cards and who each card is targeted at there are a few generalities that need to be addressed:

  • The bonus points included in the welcome offers on all three Southwest credit cards count towards the Companion Pass earnings target.
  • The points earned by spending on all three Southwest credit cards count towards the Companion Pass earnings target.
  • Based on the value I can easily achieve with Southwest points, I value each point at 1.3 cents each.
  • These cards are not available to current holders of any personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, or former holders of any personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to holders of Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Best For

  • Travelers focused primarily on earning bonus points towards a Companion Pass with the lowest cash outlay.

Welcome Offer

By my valuation, the 40,000 bonus points from the welcome offer are worth $520 and that’s more than enough for multiple short-haul flights or even a longer trip to somewhere like Hawaii.

Also, as all the Southwest personal cards are currently promoting the same welcome offer, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card currently offers for anyone whose primary aim is to maximize the number of points they can earn towards a Southwest Companion pass.

Annual Points Bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card offers cardholders 3,000 bonus points on their card anniversary. At 1.3 cents/point, that’s a bonus equal to $39 or 56.5% of the annual fee.

It’s incredibly easy to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points as they can be applied to most fares so the points from the annual anniversary bonus can be considered to be a genuine rebate.

In Summary

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card is the cheapest Southwest card on the market and is perfect for travelers looking to maximize their points haul towards earning a Companion Pass while paying a low annual fee.

For travelers who are comfortable redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points and who would also like to be able to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points when traveling abroad, the next card up will probably be a better fit.

More Details


The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Best For

  • Travelers who want to earn Southwest points at home and spending abroad while paying the lowest annual fee they can.
  • Travelers focused on earning bonus points towards a Companion Pass

Welcome Offer

By my valuation, the 40,000 bonus points from the welcome offer on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card are worth $520 and that’s more than enough for multiple short-haul flights or even a longer trip to somewhere like Hawaii.

Annual Points Bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers cardholders 6,000 bonus points on their card anniversary. At 1.3 cents/point, that’s a bonus equal to $78 or 78.8% of the annual fee and that makes this card a lot more valuable. It even makes it (net) cheaper than the Plus card.

As it’s so easy to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points this card effectively costs ~$21/year to hold ($99 – $78) and for a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees that’s a very good deal.

In Summary

If you’re not a very frequent flyer with Southwest but are comfortable redeeming Rapid Rewards points and would like to be able to earn points when traveling abroad (as well as at home) this is probably the card for you.

The bonus points that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers every card anniversary make this an incredibly cheap card to have in your wallet, and if you’re not a particularly frequent flyer with Southwest this card will probably offer you the best value.

More Details


The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Best For

  • Southwest frequent flyers

Welcome Offer

By my valuation, the 40,000 bonus points from the welcome offer on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card are worth $520 and that’s more than enough for multiple short-haul flights or even a longer trip to somewhere like Hawaii.

Annual Points Bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card offers cardholders 7,500 bonus points on their card anniversary. At 1.3 cents/point, that’s a bonus equal to $97.50 or 65.4% of the annual fee.

As it’s so easy to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points, this card effectively costs ~$51.50/year to hold ($149 – $97.50) but that’s not where this card’s savings end.

This Is The Southwest Card That Can Pay For Itself

If you travel with Southwest with any degree of frequency, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card should pay for itself and you won’t need to do anything tricky to earn back the annual fee…and more.

Every year this card offers the following:

  • 7,500 anniversary points worth $97.50
  • Up to $75 in Southwest statement credits
  • Four upgraded boardings worth a minimum of $30 each

That’s a total value of $292.50 from a card that costs $149/year to hold…and I haven’t even factored in the 20% discount that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card offers on all in-flight drink and Wi-Fi purchases or the value of the points that you’ll earn from using this card when you spend.

In Summary

If you fly (or intend to fly) with Southwest with any kind of frequency, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is the best personal Southwest co-branded card for you to hold…and by a distance.

The statement credits and upgraded boardings should be more than enough to offset the annual fee so when you also add in all the other savings this card offers the value it offers becomes obvious.

More Details


For Completeness

I have deliberately not discussed the fact that the Priority Card and the Premier Card also both offer 1,500 Tier Qualifying points for every $10,000 spent (up to a maximum spending limit of $100,000) as I don’t see this as being a key factor in deciding which card is best (and for whom). Also, this is, at best, only going to be of interest to a very small number of people who are willing to put a lot of spending on their Southwest credit cards.

Bottom Line

There’s a personal Southwest credit card for everyone in this range so all you have to do to decide which card best for you is to work out what it is you most want from the card and how often you’ll be flying with Southwest.

For frequent flyers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card will almost certainly be the best option, novices and travelers primarily focused on earning points towards a Companion Pass may prefer the low annual fee of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card while more seasoned travelers who don’t use Southwest all that often may prefer the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card.

Which is your favorite and why?

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