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The 5 Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards: Comparing Benefits and Perks

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Spencer Howard
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Spencer Howard

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Always a fan of flying, Spencer wanted to find ways to upgrade his travel experience. Over the years, Spencer has been a guest speaker on multiple YouTube shows as well as podcasts on maximizing point...
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Chase provides co-branded credit cards with Southwest Airlines: some for consumers and others for small businesses. While Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards get a ton of press, there is also some great value to be found in their Southwest Airline credit card offerings.

Let’s take a look at what each of these cards can do for you.

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The 5 Best Chase Southwest Credit Cards

Card Summary

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CardWelcome Bonus and Annual FeeTop Southwest Benefits
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual fee of $69
  • 2x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year on your card renewal
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In certificates per year
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual fee of $99
  • 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year on your card renewal
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In certificates per year
  • Earn Tier Qualifying Points for your spend
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Annual fee of $149
  • 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year on your card renewal
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 4 Upgraded Boardings per year
  • Earn Tier Qualifying Points for your spend
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee of $99
  • 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners
  • 6,000 anniversary points
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In certificates per year
  • $500 fee credit for points transfers per year
  • Earn Tier Qualifying Points for your spend
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee of $199
  • 4x points spent on Southwest purchases
  • 3x points spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 9,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary
  • Up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year
  • 4 Upgraded Boarding certificates per year
  • $500 fee credit for points transfers per year
  • Earn Tier Qualifying Points for your spend

If you enjoy crisscrossing the U.S., relaxing in the Caribbean, or having adventures in Central America or Mexico, then earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points might be just what you need.

Each of these cards can help you earn Rapid Rewards points on all of your purchases. You will earn 1x points per dollar spent on everything you spend…with 1 key exception.

If you make a purchase with Southwest Airlines — whether it’s purchasing a flight, something inflight, a Southwest gift card to give to a friend, or a Southwest Vacations package — you will earn 2x points per dollar spent.

A less common way to earn Rapid Rewards points with these cards is a balance transfer. During your first 90 days with one of the Southwest credit cards, you can earn 1x points per dollar on balance transfers up to $15,000.

Now, let’s be clear: you should not carry a balance just to take advantage of this offer. However, if you are already considering a balance transfer, the bonus Rapid Rewards points might be an opportunity for you.

Using one of the Southwest credit cards is also an easy way to prevent your Rapid Rewards points from expiring. Typically, Rapid Rewards points expire after 24 months of earning inactivity. As a cardholder, you merely have to use the card once every 24 months and your points won’t expire at all.

Unlike many co-branded airline credit cards, the Chase Southwest credit cards don’t come with perks like priority boarding and free checked bags. The latter is not a big deal though, since Southwest allows all passengers to check up to 2 bags provided that they meet size and weight restrictions.

Chase Southwest Credit Card Rules

Chase has rules for the personal Southwest credit cards.

You cannot get a second personal Southwest card if either:

  1. You are a current Southwest consumer credit cardholder; or
  2. You have earned a new cardmember bonus on a Southwest consumer credit card in the last 24 months

This means the companion pass shortcut is no longer possible by getting two Southwest personal cards.

However, 1 personal card and 1 business card are possible to get at the same time!

Southwest Plus Card (Best Entry-level Card for Anniversary Points & EarlyBird Check-In)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card makes it easy to earn unlimited points and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

This card makes it easy to earn unlimited points and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$69
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

If you spend a lot of time in the air, it’s important to get a great deal on your plane tickets.

Southwest Airlines can help you get those deals.

One way to save is by using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. This card helps you earn points for all your spending, and earning more reward points is always a good thing for a busy traveler!

Pros
  • 2x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
Cons
  • $69 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

The Southwest Plus card might be considered a “starter card” amongst the 3 co-branded Southwest cards. This card comes with low annual fee — lower than many cards that earn miles or points.

Every year you keep the card, you will receive 3,000 Rapid Rewards points after hitting your account anniversary. These points function almost like a partial rebate of the annual fee.

This card does incur a 3% fee on all foreign transactions, so you’ll want to stick to purchases in the U.S. (If you travel a lot, make sure to use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees while you’re away!)

Southwest Premier Card (Best Mid-tier Card for Anniversary Points & EarlyBird Check-In)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$99
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

Another week, another flight. Flying weekly can get tiring, but you know that every flight gets you closer to taking some great vacations with your significant other or your favorite travel buddy.

To save money on the flights, you like to use Southwest Airlines.

So why not get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to help you earn extra Rapid Rewards points?

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
Cons
  • $99 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

The Southwest Premier card has a slightly higher annual fee but the added benefit of no foreign transaction fees. This makes the card particularly useful for those trips on Southwest Airlines to the Caribbean and Central America.

This card also comes with 6,000 Rapid Rewards points each year you keep the card, so it’s a 3,000-point bump from bonus provided by the Southwest Plus card.

Additionally, the welcome offer for the Southwest Premier card is often very similar to that of the Southwest Plus card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Southwest Priority Card (Best Top-tier Card for Most Anniversary Points, Travel Credit & Upgraded Boardings)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points.
$650
$149
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most premium personal Southwest card offering from Chase. When you peel back the curtain, it is easy to see why.

Not only does the card offer multiple bonus categories to help you earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points, but it is also loaded with benefits that are sure to offer quite a bit of value to Southwest flyers.

Here is a full overview of the card to help you decide if it is a good fit for your wallet.

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshare purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases
Cons
  • $149 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable points
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

The Southwest Priority card is the most premium personal Southwest card offered. It offers multiple bonus categories to help you earn more points, and is also loaded with benefits that are sure to offer quite a bit of value.

Enjoy 7,500 points each year on your cardmember anniversary, as well as a $75 annual Southwest travel credit and 4 Upgraded Boardings per year.

Southwest Premier Business Card (Best Mid-tier Business Card for Anniversary Points & EarlyBird Check-In)

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Business owners who fly Southwest often can earn extra points for all of their spending, and add employee cards at no additional cost.

Business owners who fly Southwest often can earn extra points for all of their spending, and add employee cards at no additional cost.
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
60,000 points
$780
$99
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is built for business owners that regularly fly with Southwest and are looking for a card that helps them earn more points while providing benefits such as 25% back on inflight purchases and EarlyBird Check-In certificates.

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting purchases, including rideshare, passenger trains, buses, taxis, tolls, and parking lots and garages
Cons
  • $99 annual fee
  • Doesn’t earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Small business owners don’t need to feel left out either. The Southwest Premier Business card provides very similar benefits and perks as the Southwest Premier Card.

There are no foreign transaction fees, and you receive a bonus of 6,000 Rapid Rewards points every year you keep the card.

Southwest Performance Business Card (Best Top-tier Business Card for Most Anniversary Points, Upgraded Boarding & Statement Credits)

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Southwest frequent flyers will love the upgraded boarding positions, inflight Wi-Fi credits, and bonus points on each cardmember anniversary.

Southwest frequent flyers will love the upgraded boarding positions, inflight Wi-Fi credits, and bonus points on each cardmember anniversary.
Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
80,000 points
$1,040
$199
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is a phenomenal option for business owners who are Southwest frequent flyers. It helps you earn more points on all of your business expenses, offers upgraded boarding certificates and Wi-Fi credits, and helps you reach higher levels of Southwest elite status. 

Pros
  • 4x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
  • 3x points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 2x points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
Cons
  • $199 annual fee
  • Doesn’t earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 4X pts on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

The Southwest Performance Business card is a premium card for business owners who are Southwest frequent flyers.

You can earn more points on your business expenses and enjoy 4 Upgraded Boarding certificates per year and up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year. You’ll appreciate the 9,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary and can take advantage of the credit for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS.

Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Without a doubt, the most popular and useful perk offered by Southwest Airlines is the Companion Pass. To earn the Companion Pass, you must earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year.

Once you have earned the Companion Pass, it kicks in immediately and you retain it through the end of the following year. You are even allowed to change your designated companion 3 times per calendar year. This means 4 different people can be listed as your companion at different times of the year if you choose.

In addition to the points you earn through flying with Southwest Airlines, all of the spending you put on any of the 5 co-branded Southwest credit cards will earn points that count toward the 135,000 you need for the Companion Pass. Plus, cardholders get a 10,000-point boost towards Companion Pass qualification each year (these points are not redeemable).

Earning Southwest credit card welcome offers even counts toward the 135,000 points. This means that getting just 1 of these cards and earning the welcome offer could potentially get you over halfway there! If you get 2 of them, you might even be able to earn the Companion Pass just through welcome offers.

This is a fantastic benefit for anyone who plans to travel regularly with a companion to any of Southwest’s destinations. Being able to book a flight and fly 2-for-1 (just pay taxes and fees on your companion’s ticket) can make taking vacations easy.

Hot Tip: Check out how you can maximize the Companion Pass for some fun travel including many international destinations.

Earn Tier Points Toward A-List and A-List Preferred Status

While this will be more important to those who fly regularly, particularly for business travel, the Southwest Premier card, Southwest Priority card, Southwest Performance Business card, and Southwest Premier Business card can both help you earn A-List and A-List Preferred status with Southwest.

With these cards, you will earn 1,500 tier points per $5,000 spent on the card. This can get you almost halfway to A-List status, which requires 35,000 tier points. Add these tier points to what you already earn by flying Southwest Airlines and you’ll be well on your way.

Once you have A-List status, you’ll receive a number of benefits including a 25% bonus on points earned on your cash bookings with Southwest, priority check-in, a dedicated customer service line, and more.

For those who do a ton of travel, the ability to earn tier points through credit card spending can help get you to the 70,000 tier points required for A-List Preferred status.

With A-List Preferred status, you’ll receive a whopping 100% bonus on the points you earn on your paid Southwest tickets, a dedicated phone line, free inflight Wi-Fi, and more.

What Can You Do With Southwest Rapid Rewards Points?

Southwest Airlines has over 100 destinations across the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. With so many options, you’ll have a hard time running out of places to explore!

Without a doubt, the best way to use Rapid Rewards points is in conjunction with the Companion Pass since you’ll be getting 2 tickets for the price of one.

To top it all off, you can transfer Chase points to your Rapid Rewards account if you ever need more points for a trip. The points you transfer won’t count toward earning the Companion Pass, but cards that earn Ultimate Rewards can help you earn points even faster.

Which Chase Southwest Card Should You Get?

If you want to earn the Companion Pass to really extract maximum value out of your Rapid Rewards points, then getting 2 of the co-branded Southwest credit cards is the smart move. Under current rules, that is one consumer card and one business card, not both consumer cards.

Between the personal cards, it comes down whether you will be traveling outside the U.S. If so, the Southwest Premier card or the Southwest Priority card will prevent you from having to pay foreign transaction fees on purchases.

Final Thoughts

Southwest Airlines has earned a reputation as one of the most customer-friendly airlines in the U.S. market. For the millions who fly with them every year, choosing a co-branded credit card that can help earn tons of Rapid Rewards points will only make that experience even better.

After earning the Companion Pass with the help of these cards and taking some fun adventures with a loved one or friend, you might find yourself becoming a loyal Southwest flyer, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do points earned with the Southwest Airlines credit cards count toward elite status?

No, the points earned with the Chase Southwest cards are redeemable for award flights but do not help you earn status.

Can you transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to other airlines or hotels?

No, Rapid Rewards must be used to book award flights with Southwest Airlines.

What points can be transferred to Rapid Rewards points?

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Rapid Rewards almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Companion Pass allows you to book a flight for yourself and a designated companion for the price of one. You can book cash tickets and award flights to take advantage of this perk. You must earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards points within a calendar year to receive the Companion Pass.

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About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.

Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!

Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal). He runs Straight to the Points, an award-seat alert platform.

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