The Best Credit Cards For Southwest Airlines Flyers

Full Disclosure: We may be compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Barclays. Opinions on this site are ours alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

Southwest Airlines is more than just a low-cost carrier; Southwest has a reputation among travelers for excellent customer service and offering low-cost flights to popular destinations. You can fly Southwest to destinations like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Cancun, Belize, Aruba, and Hawaii.

If you love using miles to pay for flights, you are in luck. Southwest has an easy-to-use frequent flyer program called Rapid Rewards®. One element of this program that stands out is that there are no blackout dates; if a seat is available on a flight, you can use miles to purchase a seat on that flight.

There are many ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Not surprisingly, one of the best ways to earn points fast is with a credit card. This article will highlight all of the credit cards that will help you earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points and can help you decide what credit card might be best for you.

Why Fly On Southwest Airlines?

If you are a frequent Southwest Airlines customer, you know why they are a favorite among frequent travelers. If you have never flown Southwest, you might be wondering what all the hype is about and if you should give them a try.

Here are just a few reasons why Southwest is so popular among travelers:

Southwest Airlines
There are lots of options for those who want to earn lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Image courtesy of southwest.com

The Best Credit Cards for Southwest Flyers

Credit cards are the best way to earn points or miles fast. In addition to great sign-up bonuses, many cards earn 2x, 3x, or even 5x points in select bonus categories. Putting your everyday spending on the right credit card can ensure you have plenty of points to book your next flight.

There are 3 categories of cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points or earn points that can be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards.

  1. Southwest Airlines credit cards
  2. Chase credit cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points
  3. Marriott credit cards that earn transferable Marriott Bonvoy points.

Hot Tip: Looking for even more ways to earn lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards points but don’t have any flights planned? Check out our guide to earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points without even flying.

Southwest Credit Cards

Southwest offers 4 different credit cards, 3 personal and 1 business, backed by Chase.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards:

  1. These cards are subject to Chase’s unspoken 5/24 rule. If you aren’t familiar with this rule, it appears that Chase is not likely to approve you for another Chase credit card if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards, regardless of carrier, within the last 24 months.
  2. Southwest will not grant you a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest credit card if you already are a Southwest cardholder or if you previously were a cardholder and earned a sign-up bonus within the last 24 months.
  3. You can earn a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card and a Southwest business card without waiting 24 months.

Recommended Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • 40,000 bonus points
  • An extra 6,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary
  • Annual fee: $99
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • 3,000 anniversary points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Annual fee: $69
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit each year
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Annual fee: $149
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
  • 60,000 bonus points
  • Annual fee: $99

Hot Tip: For a head-to-head comparison of Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, check out the best Chase Southwest credit cards, comparing the benefits and perks of each.

Other Chase Credit Cards

Ultimate Rewards Earning Chase Credit Cards

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. Since the points transfer nearly instantly, this means you can earn and use your Ultimate Rewards points quickly on award travel.

Chase offers some of the best travel rewards credit cards available. The credit cards earn flexible points that can be transferred to hotel and airline partners, including Southwest. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can also be redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal for 1 to 1.5 cents a points, depending on which Chase credit card you have.

Keep in mind a few things when looking to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Airlines:

  1. When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, your points are worth 1.5 cents per point if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. Since this rate is slightly higher than the 1:1 ratio you get when you transfer points to Southwest, you will want to price out your trip on both the Chase Travel Portal and through Southwest.com. Sometimes, it might be cheaper to book through the Chase Travel Portal.
  2. These cards are also subject to the Chase 5/24 rule mentioned above.

Recommended Chase Ultimate Rewards Earning Credit Cards

Credit CardCard Overview
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants.
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Annual Fee: $450

Bottom Line: Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred into Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. 

Chase’s Cash Back Credit Cards

Chase offers a line of cash back cards that have big earning potential.

There’s also the Chase Freedom® Card and the Ink Business Unlimited℠.

Be aware that if you have a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred℠ you can turn your cash back from these cards into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points, which can be more valuable.

For example, you can earn 1.5% cash back from the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. But if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, you could be earning 1.5 points per dollar instead. These points can then be transferred to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to many different airlines, including Southwest. Unfortunately, Marriott’s transfer ratio to most airlines is 3:1; that means that for every 3 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred, you only get 1 Southwest Rapid Rewards point.

Marriott does offer a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer, so if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you will get 20,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points plus a bonus of 5,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 25,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points 

While it might not be the best avenue to use your Marriott Bonvoy points, if you would rather have Southwest points than Marriott points, this can be a good opportunity to boost your Southwest points.

Earn Southwest Points Through a Marriott Flight + Hotel Package

If you are loyal Marriott customer, you might want to check out a Hotel + Air package as a great way to also transfer points to Southwest Airlines at a better rate than 3:1 (although the rate still isn’t 1:1 so it’s not ideal).

These packages consist of 7 nights at a Marriott hotel plus airline miles. You choose your package based on the category of hotel you want. There are package options that come with either 50,000 airline points or 100,000 airline points.

Marriott Hotel + Air Package
Image courtesy of Marriott.com.

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

The following credit cards all earn Marriott Bonvoy points. You can transfer these points into Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a 3:1 ratio. You will also get a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

Bottom Line: Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Southwest at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer, you will get a 5,000 point bonus. This means that 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points would turn into 25,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. For more information, see our guide on how to transfer Marriott points to airline partners.

American Express Credit Cards

If you are in a pinch, and really need Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points by transferring your Membership Rewards points with American Express.

This is not the best use for your Membership Rewards points, so this is something you would only want to do to top off your account for a specific redemption.

To do this, you would first transfer your American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy. These will transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Then you can transfer those Marriott Bonvoy points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at the 3:1 ratio mentioned above. That means that for every 3 Marriott points you transfer you will only get 1 Southwest point.

It’s not a great deal, but it’s always good to know all of your options in a pinch.

The Best Card To Earn Southwest Points For Every Type of Traveler

Type of TravelerRecommended Card for Earning Southwest Points
A casual traveler who uses Southwest a couple of times a yearSapphire Preferred®: Stick with flexible points that can be transferred to Southwest, or any other Chase hotel or airline partner, any time you need them.
A frequent flyer on Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: This card earns 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and includes 4 upgraded boarding passes and a $75 Southwest credit each year.
A traveler who values perks like priority boarding, inflight drinks, and Wi-Fi discounts.Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: This card includes 4 upgraded boarding passes plus a 20% rebate on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi purchases.
A traveler who rarely uses Southwest AirlinesSapphire Preferred®: This is one of the best overall travel rewards cards out there. It offers strong earning potential plus flexibility when it comes to using your points.
A business owner who only uses Southwest a couple of times a yearInk Business Preferred℠: Stick with flexible points that can be transferred to Southwest, or any other Chase hotel or airline partner, any time you need them. This card also offers lots of perks for business owners.
A business owner who flies on Southwest Airlines oftenInk Business Preferred℠: This card earns 3 points per $1 spent (up to $150,000) each year on purchases in the multiple bonus categories including travel.
A business owner who wants A-List status on Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: This card earns tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
Any traveler who wants to earn the Southwest Companion PassAny of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. Points earned from any of the 4 Southwest credit cards will count towards the 110,000 points needed to earn the Companion Pass.

Final Thoughts

Southwest Airlines is a customer favorite for many reasons like its easy to use Rapid Rewards program, no checked bag or change fees, and great customer service. It’s no wonder why lots of different types of travelers fly Southwest every day.

No matter how often you fly Southwest Airlines, there is a great credit card out there to help you earn lots of Rapid Rewards.


Featured Image: Courtesy of Bacho/Shutterstock.com

FAQ

What is the best credit card to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points?

There isn’t 1 card that is best for every traveler. Different types of travelers can benefit from different credit cards offering various bonuses and perks. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is one card that is generally a winner for everyone.

This card earns 2x points on travel and dining. These points can be transferred to Southwest, as well as other hotel and airline partners, and the annual fee is $95.

How can I earn Southwest points quickly?

Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points quickly is easy when you are using the right credit card. Using a credit card that offers multiple points per dollar in categories that you routinely use is the key to earning points fast.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Ink Business Preferred℠ both earn 3 points per dollar on travel purchases. The points from these cards can then be transferred to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland - that's an experience she doesn't intend on repeating!). In late 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and it literally changed her life.

Advertisement

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Want The Best Lounge Access?

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best card for airport lounge access; no other card even comes close.

Get into more than 1,200+ airport lounges across 130 countries including the amazing Centurion® lounges.

We leverage $1,500+ in value each year with The Platinum Card®.

 

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

2 comments

  1. Parcel World · April 4, 2019 · Reply

    I am really happy to say this is an interesting post to read. I learned new information from your article, you are doing a great job. Keep it up!

  2. Travellers Tom · April 15, 2019 · Reply

    Well written and solid advice. I already do most of these things but it was a great refresher for me! Like you I value and use ultimate reward points the most. Ironic to use my sapphire reserve instead of southwest cards to earn SW points, but because they transfer so easy and fast it’s a no brainer to do that. I do the same for Hyatt!

Leave a comment

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. For more information on our advertisers, see here.