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.
Chase Southwest Credit Cards
If you enjoy crisscrossing the United States, 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.
New Chase Southwest Credit Card Rules
On April 5, 2018, Chase instituted a new rule on the personal Southwest credit cards.
Now you cannot get a second personal Southwest card if either:
- You are a current Southwest consumer credit cardholder; or
- 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, one personal card and one business card are possible to get at the same time!
The Southwest Plus Card might be considered a “starter card” amongst the 3 co-branded Southwest cards. This card comes with an annual fee of $69, which is 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 United States. (If you travel a lot, make sure to use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees while you’re away!)
The Southwest Premier Card has a $99 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 Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.
Additionally, the sign-up bonus for the Southwest Premier Card is often very similar to that of the Southwest Plus Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
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.
The annual fee is $99, there are no foreign transaction fees, and you receive a bonus of 6,000 Rapid Rewards points every year you keep the card.
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 125,000 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 3 co-branded Southwest credit cards will earn points that count toward the 125,000 you need for the Companion Pass.
Earning Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses even counts toward the 125,000 points. This means that getting just 1 of these cards and earning the sign-up bonus 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 sign-up bonuses (note: see above that since April 5, 2018, you cannot get more than one consumer card at the same time, however, can get one consumer and one business card).
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 Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit 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 $10,000 spent on the card (up to 15,000 tier points). 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 United States, 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 Ultimate Rewards 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 Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card will prevent you from having to pay foreign transaction fees on purchases.
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.