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 more than 115 million passengers yearly, ranks as the world’s second-biggest airline by market value. With such a substantial customer following, it makes sense that the popular airline has partnered with Chase 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 the best 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 choose the card that would most benefit your situation.

Learn More: The Best Credit Card Offers, Deals and Bonuses Available Now

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

The most basic Southwest credit card is the Rapid Rewards Plus card, offering an APR between 17.74 percent and 24.74 percent. New cardholders are given an extra 40,000 points if they spend $1,000 on purchases within 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. Get an in-depth review of the Plus credit card.

Advantages:

  • 3,000 anniversary bonus points
  • 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 26.74 percent; transaction fee of $10 or 5 percent, whichever is greater
  • 3 percent foreign transaction fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Earn 40,000 bonus points as a new cardholder when $1,000 in purchases are 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 spending on 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 qualifies for A-list status. The status comes with 25 percent more Rapid Rewards points per eligible flight, free same-day standby and priority check-in.

Advantages:

  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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 the greater of $5 or 5 percent of the transfer amount

Compare: The Best ‘No Annual Fee’ Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is another tier up for Southwest travel cards offered through Chase, with a variable 17.74% to 24.74% APR and a $149 annual fee. Much like the other cards, you’ll get a point for every dollar spent and double points for purchases from Southwest or its hotel and car partners.

What the Priority card offers that the others do not is 20 percent back on in-flight purchases of drinks, WiFi and messaging; a $75 annual travel credit; and four upgraded boardings a year — meaning frequent travelers might find even more perks available through the Priority card. Read a detailed review of the Priority credit card.

Advantages:

  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • $75 annual travel credit
  • Four upgraded boardings a year
  • 20 percent back on most in-flight purchases

Disadvantages:

  • $149 annual fee
  • Late payments fees of up to $37
  • 26.74 percent cash advance APR

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Corporations will appreciate the Southwest Premier Business card, which has the largest 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 while your account is open, 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.

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
  • 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 26.74 percent; fee equal to the greater of $15 or 5 percent of the transaction
  • Balance transfer fee equal to the 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 over 99 destinations
  • Free international flight with one of more than 50 global carriers
  • Gift card to participating merchants
  • Free merchandise from participating sponsors
  • Complimentary hotel room
  • Free car rental

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 travel internationally.

If you find that your staff is frequently heading out on the road for business, the Southwest Premier Business card could offer considerable value — especially if most of that travel is in places Southwest flies to. You can get extra cards for your employees at no additional charge and rack up rewards points even faster, especially if you’re booking your tickets through Southwest to get double points.

Click through to read about the best travel credit cards.

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Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.

This content is not provided by the companies mentioned. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Southwest Airlines or JPMorgan Chase.