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Southwest Airlines Has 3 Credit Cards: Which One Should You Get?

Southwest Airlines Has 3 Credit Cards: Which One Should You Get?

September 24, 2018

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Southwest Airlines is considered one of the most family-friendly airlines in the U.S., and it’s easy to see why. The airline offers a lucrative frequent flyer program that pegs the cost of flights to actual fares, making it easy to save money or points during a sale. There are no change fees when you need to reschedule or cancel your flight for any reason, which is almost unheard of among airlines. Finally, Southwest passengers receive two checked bags for free on every flight whether they pay with cash or points.

While many consumers earn their points via flying, Southwest Airlines also offers a handful of co-branded travel credit cards with Chase that let you earn points via credit card spending. These cards make it easy to earn rewards you can redeem for free flights, rental cars, hotels, gift cards, and more.

If you’re considering flying with Southwest and want to earn free airfare for yourself or your family, check out these co-branded Southwest credit cards and their benefits:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Highlights:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more



Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Highlights:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions, Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more



Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Highlights:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 upgraded boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight purchases made with your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.



Which Southwest Credit Card Should You Get?

As you can see, Southwest and Chase have attempted to create different card options that suit different types of consumers. However, the differences between each of the cards are rather subtle. For starters, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the least expensive to carry year to year, yet it comes with only one real benefit outside the ability to earn points via spending on the card — the 3,000 annual bonus points on your cardmember anniversary.

The new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, which just launched in 2018, is the most expensive card to carry, with a $149 annual fee. This card comes with the most benefits of them al,l with four upgraded boardings per year, no foreign transaction fees, a $75 annual credit toward Southwest flights, 20% back on in-flight purchases, and 7,500 points each year on your cardmember anniversary.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card seems to fall somewhere in between these two; offering 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary with a $99 fee. One big benefit with this card that you also get with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the fact that foreign transaction fees are waived on purchases made abroad.

Still, the interesting factor to consider with each of these cards is that the signup bonus is the same. Also, all three cards offer the same 2/1 earning structure on Southwest purchases and So, which card should you get? Here’s a rundown of some points to consider:

You may be better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card if…

  • You want to pay the smallest annual fee possible and can live with paying $69 per year.
  • You don’t mind receiving only 3,000 Rapid Rewards points for your cardmember anniversary each year.
  • You don’t plan to use your card outside the United States, so you don’t care about foreign transaction fees.

You may be better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card if…

  • You travel internationally frequently and prefer a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • You don’t mind paying a higher annual fee ($99) to get 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary each year.

You may be better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card if…

  • You buy flights with Southwest each year and know you can use the $75 annual travel credit and the four upgraded boarding positions.
  • You are fine with a $149 annual fee each year since you get 7,500 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • You travel internationally frequently and don’t want to pay foreign transaction fees.

The Bottom Line

Having three different co-branded Southwest credit cards to choose from puts you in a great position to find the best card for your needs. But, before you sign up, you should still think long and hard about your travel style, your travel goals, and how often you really fly with the airline.

Since all three cards currently offer the same signup bonus and earning structure, you’ll need to compare cardmember perks and annual benefits to decide which card is best for your needs. While it’s hard to argue against signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to get a lower annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card may be a better option if you’re a frequent Southwest passenger. Run the numbers and decide, and you’ll be on your way to free flights in no time.




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