Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review

"Unlimited Points That Never Expire!"

Though not big on "extra benefits," this card makes it easy to earn unlimited points and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass. The sign-up bonus will help you get started!

Card Summary Table

The Ideal Cardholder

As someone who spends a lot of time up in the air, you feel it’s important to get a great deal on your plane tickets.

That’s why you fly Southwest Airlines whenever possible.

It’s also why you have the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. This card helps you earn points for all your spending…earning more reward points is always a good thing for a busy traveler!

Southwest Rapid Rewards Program
Busy travelers can earn Rapid Rewards points with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Sign-up Bonus, Unlimited Points, and Earning Categories

You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® and Rapid Rewards® purchases with participating hotel and car rental partners, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

That bonus includes hotel and car rental partners in the Rapid Rewards® program! The annual fee for the card is $69.

Plus, there’s no limit to the number of reward points you can earn – and they won’t expire as long as you keep your account open.

Now let’s look at the other terrific card benefits.

Bottom Line: Earn 2 pts/$1 for all Southwest purchases (including hotel and car rental partners) when using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Benefits of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

As a Southwest Plus cardmember, you’ll get 3,000 points after your membership anniversary each year – a nice benefit to look forward to!

Flying on Southwest Airlines comes with its own perks too. For instance, there’s no fee for your first 2 checked bags, which can cost up to $120 on other carriers.

Unlike many airline loyalty programs, there are no blackout dates or seat restrictions on Southwest. That means if a seat is available, you can book it with your points!

You won’t ever have to pay a change fee either. Southwest will just charge you the difference between fares.

Bottom Line: Owners of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earn 3,000 bonus points every year. Plus, there are no blackout dates or seat restrictions when flying Southwest, and you can check up to 2 bags free!

Earning the Companion Pass

Who doesn’t want to fly free? With the Southwest Companion Pass it’s definitely possible.

Just earn 110,000 reward points in a qualifying year, and you’ll be awarded the Companion Pass. Your sign-up bonus miles and all the miles you earn with the Chase Southwest credit card count toward the total!

International Travel With More Rewards

Sure, Southwest is a domestic carrier. But their More Rewards program makes it possible to redeem miles for international travel too!

The More Rewards program is only open to Southwest cardmembers. Here, you can use all the Rapid Rewards points you earn – not just those earned with the credit card.

In addition to travel, More Rewards redemptions include hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, and exclusive travel experiences!

Bottom Line: More Rewards provides additional reward options including international travel. So you don’t have to be shy about using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card!

Extra Perks With the Chase Southwest Credit Card

Several extra perks come with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

If you are approved for the Visa Signature version, you’ll receive insurances and services designed to make travel more pleasant.

For instance, the Visa Signature card includes car rental, baggage delay/lost luggage insurance, and travel accident insurance. Other benefits include roadside dispatch and travel/emergency assistance services.

All of these benefits except travel/emergency assistance services come with the Visa Platinum version as well.

We’ll look at these benefits more closely in the Gritty Details section below.

Bottom Line: Extra perks of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card depend on which version you’re approved for, but will include some travel insurances and emergency service options.

Drawbacks of the Southwest Credit Card

There are a few things to consider before applying for the card.

First, the annual fee is not waived the first year like with some other airline credit cards. However, the $69 annual fee is partially offset by the sign-up bonus and anniversary points.

Also, because Southwest is a budget airline, there aren’t any luxury perks with this credit card. Other programs such as American Airlines AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles offer access to airport lounges.

Finally, there’s no introductory APR on purchases on balance transfers.

Bottom Line: The annual fee is not waived the first year and there aren’t any luxury benefits like you’d see with other cards, but the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is still a great card to earn extra points.

Compared to the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest also offers the upgraded version of the card: the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. It offers a couple of benefits not found with the basic version of the card.

With the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, cardmembers earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases (up to 15,000 points each calendar year).

The card doesn’t have an intro APR on balance transfers, but members can earn 1 reward point per $1 on balance transfers (up to 15,000 points) if they are done in the first 90 days of the account. A 5% fee applies.

Bottom Line: Another option is the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. It offers 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points per $10,000 spent in purchases and 1 pt/$1 on balance transfers made in the first 90 days.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Final Thoughts

If you prefer to fly on a carrier that offers more amenities, then the Southwest Plus card may not be the card for you.

But between the anniversary points bonus and opportunity to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, there’s no question this Chase Southwest Plus card brings value to those who regularly fly with the airline.

Great Card If

Don't Get If

  • You prefer luxury rather than budget airlines
  • You don’t have a Southwest hub nearby
  • You won’t spend enough to cover the $69 annual fee

U.P. Pro Tips

One strategy for accruing points quickly is to use the card for all your expenses–especially purchases from hotels and car rental agencies in the Rapid Rewards® program for 2 points per $1 spent!

Partners include Choice Hotels, Starwood, Marriott, Avis, Budget, and National!

Even those purchases earning 1 point per $1 are worth putting on the card, since they bring you closer to the 110,000 points needed for a Companion Pass.

Don’t forget about the 3,000 anniversary points, which will get you to the companion pass even quicker!

Southwest Hotel Points
Stay at one of the Rapid Rewards® program hotels and earn 2 points per $1 spent.

How To Use Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: The Upgraded Way™

Best Way To Maximize Points

Sure, Southwest purchases earn 2x points, and this is a fantastic way to increase your balance. But there are so many more ways to earn Southwest points using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card!

Tip #1: With Southwest Rapid Rewards, elite status is worth major bonus points. Reach the A-List tier to enjoy a 25% bonus. Even better, A-List Preferred members get a 100% bonus!

Tip #2: Visit the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal to shop online at well-known stores like Staples, Walmart, Apple, and hundreds more.

Each purchase earns points depending on the retailer and special offers. You can earn as many as 6+ points/$1!

Plus, you’ll get 1 point per $1 for using your Southwest Plus card!

Tip #3: Want to ensure you have as many points as possible to spend on Rapid Rewards? Why not transfer reward points earned with other Chase cards to Rapid Rewards points?

As you can see from the table below, there are plenty of Chase Ultimate Rewards cards that allow you to transfer points:

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Chase Ultimate Rewards Program ReviewChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Tip #4: Fill out marketing surveys during your downtime. Sites such as e-Rewards, Valued Opinions, and e-Miles make it easy to earn Rapid Rewards points.

Points vary depending on the current offers. You may even be able to earn sign-up bonuses.

Tip #5: Sign up for the Rapid Rewards Dining program and earn up to 3 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent at participating restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Just for joining, you’ll get 500 points. Each time you reach another 1,000-point increment, you’ll earn 300 more points!

Though you can link any credit or debit card, you’ll get an extra 1 point per $1 spent when you use your Southwest Plus card!

Rapid Rewards Dining
Join the Rapid Rewards Dining program to earn up to 3 points per $1 spent plus bonuses eating at restaurants!

Best Way To Redeem Points

Southwest operates independently, which means redeeming points for free flights works a little differently than other airline loyalty programs.

For instance, points value is determined by the variable cost of a ticket instead of a fixed rate.

Domestic vs. International Travel

If you want to redeem points for a domestic flight, it must be on Southwest. On a positive note, your points will be valued higher with Southwest travel than any other option!

You have more flexibility with international travel. In fact, you can redeem points for international travel with most major airlines. Unfortunately, your points will likely be valued lower than $0.02 each when you redeem them this way.

International travel (including Hawaii) is booked through the More Rewards program. Here are some other ways to redeem points using More Rewards:

Option #1: Cruises

Redeem reward points for gift cards good for cruises on Carnival Cruise Lines ($100) or Royal Caribbean International ($100 and $500).

Option #2: Rental Car Vouchers

Vouchers from car rental agencies such as National, Alamo, Budget, and more are available starting with as few as 5,000 points.

Option #3: Hotel and Resort Stays

Choose from more than 70,000 hotels through iHotel, or book with regular hotel partners like Best Western and Fairmont when you redeem Rapid Rewards points.

Option #4: Shopping

There’s a gift card for almost everything you can think of when redeeming reward points including restaurants, office supplies, online retailers, and lots more.

Option #5: Experiences

Whether it’s tickets to a Broadway show or a California wine tour, you can find the perfect experience available in exchange for your Rapid Rewards points.

Partners

Southwest does not have airline partners or alliances for domestic travel. You can redeem points for international travel on major airlines through the More Rewards option.

Hotel Partners: Carlson, La Quinta, Best Western, Hyatt, Starwood, Choice, Marriott, MGM, and more than 70,000 hotels through iHotel.com

Rental Car Partners: Thrifty, Hertz, Alamo, Payless, Budget, National, Dollar

Additional products and services are also available through the More Rewards program.

Card Math

So far, this review has covered specific strategies for making the most of your Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Now let’s delve into whether the card makes sense financially.

Quick Card Recap

The following table shows the basic cost and benefits of the card.

Annual FeePoints Earned on Southwest* Points Earned on All Other PurchasesAnniversary Bonus
$69/yr2x1x3,000 pts/year

*2x points also earned with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners

As you can see, the Southwest Plus card has an annual fee of $69 starting the first year. It earns up to 2x points on purchases, and you will receive 3,000 bonus points each year on your cardmember anniversary.

Earning With Our Model Spending Families

Using the yearly spending of our fictitious families, we can determine how many reward points are possible in a year. For our purposes, we’ll assume all their expenses go on this card.

We’ll also assume their hotel and car rental expenses are with Rapid Rewards partners, so they earn the 2x points.

FamilyAirfare (2x)Hotel (2x)Car Rental (2x)Other (1x)TOTAL
Kennedys$2,400$1,800$200$18,20027,000 pts
Jetsons$6,000$6,000$400$24,00048,800 pts
Hartnells$7,800$10,500$600$26,20064,000 pts

Don’t forget they’d also get an extra 3,000 points for the anniversary bonus!

Financial Value of Earned Points

As we discussed earlier, Southwest doesn’t have an awards chart to determine the financial value of your points.

However, we found points to be worth between $0.009 (business class) and $0.018 (economy) each,

What does that mean for our model spending families? Just looking at the Jetsons (whose spending is in the mid-range), their points would be valued between $432 and $864!

And those 3,000 anniversary points? They’re worth approximately $50, almost covering the annual fee!

Southwest Rapid Rewards
Points add up quickly when you reach elite status in the Rapid Rewards program!

Conclusion

Based on the numbers for our fictitious families, there’s no question that the value of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card far outweighs the $69 annual fee.

Our calculations didn’t even include the potential elite status bonus of 25% (A-List tier) or 100% (A-List Preferred tier)!

To earn elite status and qualify for these bonuses, you need to collect a minimum number of Tier Qualifying Points or one-way qualifying flights:

  • 35,000 TQP or 25 segments (A-List tier)
  • 70,000 TQP or 50 segments (A-List Preferred tier)

Points and TQP can vary between 6-12 points per $1 spent depending on the type of fare.

If your goal is to reach the A-List or A-List Preferred tier, you may want to consider applying for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card instead.

It costs slightly more per year ($99 rather than $69), but you’ll also earn 1,500 TQP for every $10,000 spent each year.

No matter which card you use, its value increases even more when you add the elite status bonus!

Bottom Line: Using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could earn you up to $864 worth of points over the course of a year based on our calculations!

The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know

Just a note about qualifying for a Companion Pass, which requires 110,000 points:

In addition to earning Companion Pass points by flying Southwest, all points earned by using the Southwest Plus card also count towards the 110,000-point minimum.

As long as you keep your account open and current, you can earn unlimited reward points that never expire.

Other Unique Features

Depending on whether you qualify for a Visa Signature or Visa Platinum card, you will receive a variety of features and benefits with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Here are examples of the shopping and travel perks that may be included:

Extended warranty – Extends warranties of 3 years or less by up to 1 year and $10,000 per claim.

Purchase protection – Covers items against loss, theft, or damage up to 120 days after purchase. Maximum claim is $500 per item and $50,000 per account.

Car rental collision insurance – Decline the agency’s waiver and pay for a car rental with your card to receive car rental collision coverage.

Roadside dispatch – Receive towing, fuel delivery, tire changing, jump starting, and more for a set fee of $59.95.

Travel accident insurance – Get insurance coverage up to $500,000 in case of a severe accident.

Travel and emergency services – Call for emergency assistance when traveling. (You are responsible for third party service charges.)

Lost luggage insurance – Purchase travel on a common carrier with the card and luggage will be covered up to $3,000.

Baggage delay insurance – Get reimbursed up to $100 per day for 3 days if baggage is delayed 6 hours or more (for essential items such as clothing and toiletries).

Photo Credits/Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Woman Sitting in Airport: Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock
Hotel Room: Himchenko.E/Shutterstock
Table at Restaurant: johan.lebedevski/Shutterstock
Suitcases at Airport: stockphoto mania/Shutterstock

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

FAQ

What are the benefits of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card? Why should I get it?
The Southwest Plus card is one of three Southwest credit cards co-branded by Chase Bank (along with Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card).

With this card, you can earn unlimited points that don’t expire if your account is current. Purchases earn up to 2 points per $1:

  • 2 points per $1 with participating Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners
  • 1 point per $1 for all other purchases

In addition, you earn 3,000 points after each yearly anniversary, no fee for your first two checked bags, and no blackout dates or seat restrictions.

How can you earn a Companion Pass with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card?
All points earned using the card are applied to the 110,000 points necessary to earn an annual Southwest Companion Pass, including purchases, sign-up bonus points, and anniversary bonuses.

Does the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQP)?
No. The card does not earn TQP, unlike the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, which earns Tier Qualifying Points (TQP) for every $10,000 spent.

However, you can still earn TQP with any paid Southwest flight.

How do you redeem Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card points?
When you earn reward points they are automatically deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. Then you can redeem them through the Southwest portal.

What other credit cards can I use to earn Southwest points?
Because Chase Ultimate Rewards is a Southwest partner, you can transfer points from the 6 Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to your Rapid Rewards account. You will need one of the three starred (“*”) cards to make a points transfer:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card*
  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*
  • Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Chase Freedom®
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

How can I log in to my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus account?
The login for Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus is Chase.com.