There are a range of three Southwest Airlines cards on offer from Chase. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier & Priority cards all come with a different annual fee and set of benefits. This articles take a look at the lowest priced card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, describes its details, benefits and discusses who will get the most out of it.
Card details and annual fee
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the lowest priced of the range of three Southwest cards, with an annual fee of just $69. The standard APR is between 17.99 percent and 24.99 percent, and there is no discount or introductory zero percent APR offer.
For comparison the mid-range Premier card charges $99, and the Priority card $149. You obviously get more benefits for these higher fees – for more details see our full card comparison.
There is one major limitation with this card that should be highlighted straight away. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is not a good choice of card for the frequent overseas travel. It charges a fee of three percent on all foreign exchange transactions, whereas the Premier and Priority cards do not levy any fee.
Excellent sign up bonus for low spending
There is a sign up bonus with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card of 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for total spending of only $1,000 within the first three months. These points are worth at least $600 in travel with Southwest in our experience.
This is the same bonus as offered with the higher priced cards, so is a particularly good deal for the low annual fee.
Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points with all spending
All spending with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns points at the following rates:
- Two points per dollar for all spending with Southwest Airlines (including Southwest Vacations packages)
- Two points per dollar with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
- One point per dollar on all other spending
You also receive a bonus of 3,000 Rapid Rewards points each year that you hold the card – a benefit not offered by most other airline cards.
Aside from Southwest spending, this is a lower rate than you get with many other cards. The excellent Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for example, offers two Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for all travel and dining spend. And the Sapphire Reserve awards three points per dollar. Of course, the main reason to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is to earn points direct in the Rapid Rewards program, but remember that you can always split spending between different cards to maximize rewards.
Earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass
All points earned with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (including the sign-on bonus of 40,000 points) count towards the requirement for the Southwest Companion Pass. This is a major reason for taking out the card for many people. Remember that if you transfer points into the Rapid Rewards program from earning in another scheme, these would not count towards this requirement.
The Companion Pass allows a designated companion to fly with you for free when you book one cash or reward ticket (the extra ticket just charges taxes and fees). The pass is awarded when you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within one year. For more details about the Companion Pass (and the Rapid Rewards program) take a look at our guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards.
Spending Southwest Rapid Rewards points
The best value use of points, in our opinion, is to use them for Southwest domestic or international flights. The value you get varies with fares. You can use points for discount ‘Wanna Get Away’ fares, ‘Anytime’ fares with better availability and also with an extensive set of partner airlines. The best value with the lowest fares tends to be around 1.7 cents per point and goes down to 0.8 cents per point with partners.
For more details on spending points, with Southwest or elsewhere, see our guide to the best ways to spend Rapid Reward points.
With its low annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a good choice for anyone wanting to earn Rapid Reward points. And in particular for those who are aiming for the Southwest Companion Pass. The sign-on bonus and ongoing earning are the same as with the more expensive Premier and Priority cards. The foreign transaction fees are a major disadvantage for anyone planning overseas travel, however, and it may be worth the extra fee for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card just to avoid this.
For anyone who will fly regularly with Southwest however, the additional benefits of the Premier and Priority card are worth considering. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a $75 annual flight credit, 20% rebate for inflight purchases and four upgrades a year – well worth the extra annual fee if you will fly Southwest regularly.