Skip to Content

Which Southwest Credit Card is Right for You?

Share this!:

If you want to earn points towards free flights aboard Southwest Airlines, one of the easiest ways to do that is with a Southwest co-branded credit card. Chase currently offers three Southwest personal credit cards in addition to two business cards. These cards can be an excellent way to load up your Southwest Rapid Rewards account balance.

Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter During Holidays

My husband and I have had a Southwest credit card or two in our wallets for the better part of a decade. We have used the benefits for a LOT of free travel. So, with five Southwest personal and business credit card choices available, which one should you get if you are in the market for a new travel rewards credit card, assuming you should you even get one at all?

Here are my best tips for selecting the right Southwest credit card for you, so you can fly free on Southwest with your kids (or without!) on your next travel adventure.

(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)

🚨 Deal Alert! 🚨

All three personal Southwest cards are currently offering a rare and very valuable signup bonus – the Southwest Companion Pass! Earn a Companion Pass good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Apply here – and get more details below for each card. Offer ends 3/11/24.

Should You Get Any Southwest Credit Card?

Southwest Credit Cards - Plane at Orlando

Before we get to the breakdown of the individual card offerings, it’s always smart to talk about who should – and shouldn’t – be looking at Southwest credit cards. While my Southwest credit cards have always been worth it to me, I recognize the cards aren’t right for everyone!

Don’t Get a Southwest Card If….

If you don’t live near an airport served by Southwest, chances are probably good that a card won’t be a fit for you. Southwest’s coverage map has expanded considerably in the past few years, however, so take a peek to see if airports have been added that you didn’t know about. Even if Southwest has a presence at your home airport though, look carefully at the frequency of the airline’s service there and the destinations it serves.

If you fly mostly overseas, Southwest probably isn’t going to be a major draw for you either. Many travelers still don’t know that Southwest does now fly internationally. These flights, however, are mostly to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central American destinations. There’s simply no way to get to Europe or Asia or even Canada yet with your Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Finally, don’t get a Southwest credit card if you aren’t paying your credit card balances in full each and every month. Travel rewards cards of any type are not good fits for anyone who carries a balance – the rewards are cancelled out (and then some) by the high interest rates. Don’t make the common frequent flyer mile mistake of going further into debt over a few airline miles.

Do Consider a Southwest Card If…

Southwest Airlines Plane Designs - How to fly for free with Southwest Credit Cards

If you travel a few times a year domestically and have the usual limitations that most regular folks with jobs and kids in school do, chances are good a Southwest card is right for you.

In fact, I think Southwest points are some of the most valuable currencies for traveling families and regular people. Why? Their flexibility. So many other airlines have serious capacity controls on their award seats. When you are looking for three or four or more seats to fly to see grandma at Christmas time, it’s not likely a family can use miles for what they want.

On Southwest, however, there are no blackouts on award seats. If there is a seat on the plane available, it can be purchased with Rapid Rewards points. Of course, you’ll pay more in points for more expensive fares. But using your points on Southwest is imminently doable the vast majority of the time with a little pre-planning. For example, I’ve used them to fly Southwest to Hawaii during peak summer break and to get to a cruise during Easter weekend – not redemptions likely to be possible except at incredibly inflated rates on other airlines.

Related: Southwest Hawaii Flight Review from OAK to HNL

Southwest Credit Cards - Southwest Airlines Boarding at Burbank

Comparing the 3 Current Personal Southwest Credit Cards

So, on to the three specific personal Southwest credit card offerings to choose from.

The three personal card products are the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. The card names are pretty similar and the cards have some benefits similarities, so it’s sometimes hard to keep them straight. Southwest has also changed the benefits on all of these cards in several ways the last couple of years, so it’s important to read the current fine print carefully.

Note that these consumer cards are subject to Chase’s informal 5/24 rule. So if you get a lot of credit cards, make sure you haven’t gotten 5 or more in the last 24 months from any issuer or you will be almost assuredly turned down. That count usually includes cards that your spouse or partner has gotten if they’ve added you as an authorized user.

Additionally, you can also only earn a single signup bonus on any of these Southwest personal cards once every 24 months. So if you’ve had one of these cards in the last two years, you aren’t eligible for a bonus on another.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card Art February 2021

The newest of the three card offerings, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, is the closest to a premium card that Southwest and Chase have ever offered. The card has the highest annual fee of the three but comes with more perks. These perks may more than cancel that fee out for folks who fly Southwest even occasionally.

The salient points about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card are:

  • $149 annual fee
  • Current Signup Bonus: Earn a Companion Pass good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual renewal: Earn 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year (as reimbursements).
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases (drinks, WiFi)
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status (1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in purchases annually).
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest direct purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and in the following categories: local transit and commuting; internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming services.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card Art February 2021

Key points to keep in mind for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card:

  • $99 annual fee
  • Current Signup Bonus: Earn a Companion Pass good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual renewal: Earn 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Two Early-Bird Check-Ins per year (as reimbursements).
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases (drinks, WiFi)
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status (1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in purchases annually).
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest direct purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and in the following categories: local transit and commuting; internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming services.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card Art February 2021

And finally the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card:

  • $69 annual fee
  • Current Signup Bonus: Earn a Companion Pass good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual renewal: Earn 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Two Early-Bird Check-Ins per year (as reimbursements).
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases (drinks, WiFi)
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest direct purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and in the following categories: local transit and commuting; internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming services.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Which Southwest Personal Credit Card Is Best?

What’s my advice? If I had never had a Southwest credit card at this very moment, I would undoubtedly choose the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. But that’s based on my family’s travel patterns. We fly Southwest at least every other month, so we can make use of the Southwest travel credit and upgraded boardings.

If you are a more infrequently flying family who is simply looking to add to your points balance in anticipation of a couple of big trips, however, those benefits might not be as valuable. In that case, I’d probably recommend the card with the lowest annual fee – the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card.

I can’t really make as much of a case for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card as much any more for new signups. It’s annual fee is simply too close in price to the Priority card ($149 vs. $99). Assuming you can use only the Priority card’s $75 Southwest travel credit and no other benefits, you come out ahead with the Priority.

So to summarize:

Southwest Credit Cards - View from Wing Winglet

What About Southwest Business Credit Cards?

All the cards detailed so far in this post are personal consumer credit cards. Chase now has two Southwest business credit card offerings too. I personally currently have one of the business cards. I definitely think that anyone who owns a small business of their own – like me – should consider these cards, likely in addition to a personal card.

The two business credit card offerings are:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card Art

Key points to keep in mind for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card:

  • $199 annual fee
  • Current Signup Bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Annual renewal: Earn 9,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Credit towards either Global entry, TSA Precheck, or NEXUS fees.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year (as reimbursements).
  • Free in-flight WiFi credits (up to 365 $8 credits annually).
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status (1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in purchases annually).
  • Earn 4 points per $1 spent on Southwest direct purchases.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent in the following categories: local transit and commuting; social media and search engine advertising; internet, cable, and phone services
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card Art

Key points to keep in mind for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card:

  • $99 annual fee
  • Current Signup Bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening
  • Annual renewal: Earn 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Two Early-Bird Check-Ins per year (as reimbursements).
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases (drinks, WiFi)
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status (1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in purchases annually).
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest direct purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases and in the following categories: local transit and commuting.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. 

Which Southwest Business Credit Card Is Best?

Personally, as a frequent Southwest business traveler, I prefer the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card because of the improved earning possibilities and fringe benefits. The WiFi credits alone total much more than the $100 difference in the annual fees. (To break even, that’s just a dozen segments where one person purchases the $8 WiFi. I usually purchase it for my husband and me as well and sometimes for my kids. And we all fly more than a dozen segments a year.)

And remember – if you are eligible for a business card as well as a personal card, getting both is a pretty easy path to qualifying for a Southwest Companion Pass. While you can’t “double dip” by getting two personal cards at the same time, you can definitely get one business card and one personal card.

More Southwest Travel Tips

Want to learn more about flying Southwest Airlines? Check out these related articles:

Disclosure: I was a paid #SouthwestStorytellers ambassador for Southwest Airlines in 2018. This particular post, however, is not written in conjunction with that partnership and is not endorsed or approved by Southwest Airlines. It has been updated since that time independent of that relationship.

Want to save money flying on Southwest Airlines? Earn points toward free flights with one of the Southwest credit cards from Chase. Find out which Southwest credit card is best for your travel and spending patterns to earn maximum travel rewards.

Share this!:

Oye

Friday 24th of January 2020

The blog is very well put forward and the information is interesting. Keep up the good work and my wishes to you for your future goals. I too write blogs on men's fashion, food and travel do check out my blog on https://www.oyeoffers.com/blog/ .

Jessica

Friday 20th of July 2018

What things can you use the $75 credit for? Flights or just in flight stuff? Any restrictions there?