Southwest Credit Card Review: Which One Is Right for You?

Learn the pros and cons of each Southwest Airlines credit card.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which transports 115 million passengers yearly, ranks as the world’s second-biggest airline by market value, according to Statista. With such a substantial customer following, it makes sense that the popular airline has partnered with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to offer consumers a line of credit cards that will make it easier to book flights, earn free flights and keep track of travel expenses when away on a business trip. Here’s what you need to know about these airline rewards credit cards.

Southwest Airlines Credit Card Options

GOBankingRates has compiled a list of the four credit cards offered by Southwest. Review each card’s pros and cons so you can quickly select the card that would most benefit your situation.

Southwest Plus Card

The most basic Southwest credit card is the Plus card, offering an APR between 17.24 percent and 24.24 percent. New cardmembers are offered an extra 50,000 points if they spend $2,000 on purchases during the first three months of opening an account. Afterward, customers can earn unlimited points that never expire.

Two points are assigned for every dollar spent on Southwest purchases, as well as purchases made through the company’s Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. All other purchases qualify for one point per dollar.

Advantages:

  • 3,000 anniversary bonus points
  • Bags fly free; no change fees
  • Zero blackout dates or seat restrictions when redeeming points

Disadvantages:

  • $69 annual fee applied to the first bill and annually thereafter
  • Late payment fee of up to $37, depending on your balance
  • Cash advance APR of 26.24 percent; the greater of $10 or 5 percent transaction fee applies
  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Earn 50,000 bonus points as a new cardholder when $2,000 in purchases have been made within three months of opening the account. Additionally, two points per dollar are earned on Southwest flight purchases, and two points per dollar are awarded for acquisitions made through Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. Add one point per dollar on all other purchases with 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-list and A-list preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.

Once a Premier cardholder earns 35,000 tier-qualifying points or books 25 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year, he enters A-list status. The status comes with 25 percent more Rapid Rewards points per flight, free same-day standby and priority boarding and check-in.

Advantages:

  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees; 3 percent savings on international purchases
  • Points never expire as long as the account remains open
  • No seat restrictions or blackout dates when using points

Disadvantages:

  • $99 annual fee applied to the first bill and annually thereafter
  • Late payment fee of up to $37
  • Balance transfer fees equal greater of $5 or 5 percent of the transfer amount

Southwest Plus Business

Southwest also provides two business credit cards for corporate customers. Just like the Plus account for individuals, the Southwest Plus Business card is more basic and offers a 17.24% to 24.24% APR. After signing up for the card and spending $2,000 in the first three months, cardholders will be rewarded with a bonus of 50,000 points.

Businesses can continue to earn two points per dollar when they make purchases through Southwest or one of Southwest’s partners. All other charges to the credit card earn one point per dollar.

Compare: United Airlines Credit Card Comparison: Travel Rewards for Business and Personal Spending

Advantages:

  • 3,000 bonus anniversary points
  • Points never expire as long as the account is open
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions when redeeming points

Disadvantages:

  • $69 annual fee applied to the first statement and annually thereafter
  • Late payment fees of up to $37
  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee

Southwest Premier Business

Corporations will appreciate the Southwest Premier Business card, which has the biggest sign-up bonus of all four cards. You’ll earn 60,000 extra points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card. Points never expire, and you’ll rack up two points for each dollar spent on Southwest flights and when shopping with one of the Rapid Rewards program partners; every other charge earns one point per dollar.

Plus, there’s no bag or change charge and when redeeming points, you won’t have to worry about blackout dates or seat restrictions. Premier business cardholders are also eligible to reach A-list status and enjoy all of its associated benefits.

Learn: How to Travel the World for Practically Free

Advantages:

  • 6,000 bonus anniversary points
  • Additional employee cards at no charge
  • Tools to manage employee expense reports
  • No foreign transaction fees or return check fees

Disadvantages:

  • Southwest credit card annual fee of $99 applied to the first statement and annually thereafter
  • Cash advance APR of 26.24 percent; fee equal to greater of $15 or 5 percent of the transaction fee
  • Balance transfer fee equal to greater of $5 or 5 percent of the transfer amount
  • Late payment fees of up to $39

Southwest Rapid Rewards Program

No matter which card you select, you’ll have the opportunity to earn and redeem rewards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program. Once you reach the redemption amount, you’ll be able to choose one of the following rewards:

  • Complimentary flight to one of Southwest Airline’s 90 destinations
  • Free international flight with one of 50 global carriers
  • Gift card to one of 70 participating merchants
  • Free merchandise from participating sponsors
  • Complimentary hotel room
  • Free car rental

Up Next: Best Travel Credit Cards

Casual credit card users who fly occasionally would do well with the Plus card; however, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is a better choice for cardholders who spend more than $10,000 annually and make a lot of foreign transactions.

When it comes to the business line of credit cards, small businesses will find the Southwest Plus Business card is all they need. Larger companies who send employees on frequent business trips should go with the Southwest Premier Business card, which supplies complimentary cards for employees and management tools that will instantly generate important expense reports.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.