You’ve likely heard a lot about the Southwest Companion Pass and the newest Southwest credit card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. In addition, Southwest recently added a new incentive to all three personal cards, allowing you to earn the normal 40,000-point sign-up bonus, as well as 20,000 extra points if you spend $12,000 within your first year.
So, which one is right for you? If you’re looking to sign up for one and set your sights on that oh-so-coveted Companion Pass, here’s what to consider.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
The newest card in the bunch, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with a $149 annual fee, offset by a $75 travel credit toward Southwest flights. You receive four upgraded boarding passes per year, as well as 20 percent back on in-flight purchases and a 7,500-point bonus on your account anniversary. This card easily has the most perks for its cardholders.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card
In comparison, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card comes with a $99 annual fee and you receive a slightly smaller anniversary point bonus — 6,000 points. This is the program’s middle-grade card and it comes with the opportunity to earn tier qualifying points. You earn 1,500 tier points each time you spend $10,000, up to $100,000.
It does not have any foreign transaction fees.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
Along the same lines, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus card comes with a $69 annual fee (starting the first year) and 3,000 points on your anniversary.
This is the most basic card out of all three. It doesn’t really have any fancy perks. You just get the bonus points on your anniversary, a lower annual fee and then the normal perks that come with all the cards on the list, like the double points on Southwest purchases. There is a foreign transaction fee.
How are they all alike?
There are quite a few similarities between these cards. All of them earn 2x on Southwest purchases and rental car and hotel purchases (with select partners). Other purchases earn 1x points.
Additionally, they’ll all get you that 60,000 points, at least for the promotion period, which lasts through Jan. 9.
So, what’s the actual value of these points? Well, if Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth 1.6 cents apiece, then the sign-up bonus offer is automatically worth $960. Then, your total worth of the annual bonuses are going to differ according to the card you sign up for. The Plus card will give you $48 worth of an annual bonus, the Premier card will give you $96 of an annual bonus and the Priority card will give you $120 of an annual bonus.
This leaves you with $1,008 of a bonus in the first year for the Plus card; $1,056 of a bonus in the first year for the Premier card; and $1,080 of a bonus in the first year for the Priority card.
What’s the best card for me?
If you really want to avoid as much in annual fees as possible, and don’t care too much about the extra frills, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card is the way to go.
If you do a lot of international travel and want to avoid foreign transaction fees, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card might be best for you. Likewise, the Premier card also offers you the opportunity to earn tier qualifying points, if that’s something you’re looking for in a credit card.
Now, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card does come with a pricier annual fee…but it also comes with a lot more perks. If it’s primarily perks you’re after, the Priority card is the way to go. Many users find that it more than makes up for the slightly more expensive annual fee.
Do keep in mind that you may not automatically be eligible for the cards with the new sign-up bonus.
In order to qualify, you must not be a new card member who has received another new card member bonus for Southwest cards in the past 24 months. Additionally, you can only own one consumer Southwest card at a time, so you can’t get the bonus if you already hold one or the other. Additionally, you need an excellent credit score to get the card in the first place, at least 750. The general rule with Chase cards is “5/24,” meaning that you can’t open more than five credit card accounts in the past 24 months with any issuer and get a new Chase card.