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Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards of 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Southwest Airlines is one of the largest carriers in the U.S., operating more than 4,000 flights per day to domestic locations and destinations throughout the Caribbean. Travelers who frequently use Southwest—or who want to earn Rapid Rewards points—have access to multiple credit card offers from the airline. Below, we've highlighted the most attractive offers for earning points and getting perks.

Recommended Cards

Best ForCredit NeededAnnual Fee
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardMost peopleGood/Excellent$99
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardFrequent flyersGood/Excellent$149
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit CardBusiness ownersGood/Excellent$99

Continue reading below for a detailed look at the benefits and features of each card. You can also head to our credit card comparison tool at the bottom of the page to see which Southwest card works best for your budget and travel habits.

Best Southwest Credit Card for Most People

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is our favorite Southwest card for casual travelers looking to get rewarded for their airline spending. For a reasonable $99 annual fee, you'll be able to earn Southwest points on your everyday purchases, plus zero foreign transaction fees and an annual point bonus on your cardmember anniversary.

Annual Rapid Rewards Point Bonus

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you'll receive a 6,000 Rapid Rewards points bonus every year on your cardmember anniversary. We value Southwest miles at 1.5 cents apiece, so the annual point bonus is effectively worth $90 in annual travel credits. If you use the point bonus to book flights every year, this can help partially offset the cost of the annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a decent Southwest card, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has better value for most people. While the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has a lower annual fee ($69), it also has a lower annual Rapid Rewards bonus of 3,000 points per year. It also charges a foreign transaction fee of 3%, whereas the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has zero foreign transaction fees.

Best Southwest Credit Card for Earning Miles

On Chase's Secure Website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 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 in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • 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.
  • 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 in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • 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.
Annual Fee
$149
APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent/Good
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best card for Southwest frequent flyers who are looking to earn miles. For an annual fee of $149, you'll earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else. This is the same earning rate as the other Southwest consumer cards, but you'll also benefit from an annual Rapid Rewards bonus of 7,500 points on top of an annual travel credit.

7,500 Annual Rapid Rewards Bonus Plus Annual Travel $75 Credit

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with a 7,500 annual point bonus and a $75 annual travel credit. Combined, these two perks are worth nearly $190 on Southwest tickets each year, given our valuation of Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents. If you fly Southwest enough to utilize both the travel credit and the point bonus, the annual fee on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card will pay for itself each year.

Annual Tier Qualifying Point Bonus

If you're looking to earn or keep Southwest A-List status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card can help you do so with up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points per year. You'll earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually. The tier-qualifying points can be used toward earning Rapid Rewards A-List or A-List Preferred status.

Best Southwest Credit Card for Small Business Owners

On Chase's Secure Website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 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.
  • 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 points on employee spending
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No blackout dates when you redeem points, no seat restrictions, bags fly free®, and no change fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 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.
  • 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 points on employee spending
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No blackout dates when you redeem points, no seat restrictions, bags fly free®, and no change fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
Annual Fee
$99
APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent Credit
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is a rewarding card for small-business owners who primarily fly with Southwest. The card is similar to the consumer version, offering 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, 1 point per dollar on everything else, 6,000 anniversary points per year and no foreign transaction fees.

Account Anniversary Bonuses

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, you'll benefit from an account anniversary bonus of 6,000 Rapid Rewards points per year, a value of $90 according to our valuation of Southwest points (1.5 cents each). If you can earn a few thousand more Rapid Rewards points per year from your spending, you'll come out ahead on the $99 annual fee.

Free Cards for Employees

If you're a small-business owner with flight expenses, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card can help you save on travel costs by earning Rapid Rewards points on every purchase made by you or an employee. These points can be redeemed toward air travel and other rewards. Plus, you'll also benefit from a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Best Non-Southwest Credit Card for Earning Miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Annual Fee
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $95
APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The cards mentioned above are great for travelers who exclusively or primarily fly with Southwest. However, if you're interested in getting free flights and don't have allegiance to a particular airline, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best choice for you. For a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), you'll earn 2 Chase Ultimate Reward points per dollar on all travel and restaurant purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program

The major benefit of opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card rather than an airline-specific co-branded card is that you'll earn points that are extremely flexible. Whereas Rapid Rewards points can't be used on airlines other than Southwest, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to 13 different travel loyalty programs, including Southwest's Rapid Rewards program.

Rewarding Welcome Bonus and Earning Rate

Another draw of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is its excellent welcome bonus and ongoing rewards rate. When you sign up for the card, you'll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. That's $625 when redeemed for travel, since you get a 25% points bonus when redeeming on the Chase travel portal. Likewise, travel and dining purchases receive a 2.5% rewards rate (2 points x 25% bonus) when you redeem your points for travel on the Chase portal.

Best No-Annual-Fee Card for Earning Points on Southwest Flights

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
*Rates and Fees
APR
14.74% - 27.24% Variable
Credit Needed
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a great option for travelers looking for a fee-free rewards card ($0 annual fee). The card earns 3 points per dollar at restaurants and on gas, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. For most people, the ability to earn points on all of these categories will make this card more rewarding than the Southwest co-branded cards.

Rewards on Travel and Transit Purchases

The main benefit of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is that it earns a 3% rewards rate on a broad category of travel and transit purchases. While the Southwest cards earn 2 Rapid Rewards points per dollar exclusively on Southwest flights, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card earns 3X points on flights, hotels, car rentals and more.

Excellent Welcome Bonus on a No-Fee Card

For a no-fee card, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has a rewarding welcome bonus: 30,000 points after spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. This is a value of $300, which is the best welcome bonus available on a card with no annual fee.

The information related to the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Compare Southwest and Rewards Credit Cards

You can use our card comparison tool to evaluate how each card works for your budget and spending habits. Browse the options below and click on the gear icon to adjust the spending inputs for each category.

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Yowana Wamala

Yowana is a product analyst at ValuePenguin, specializing in credit cards and rewards programs. He previously covered mortgages and banking for the website before graduating from Columbia University with a B.A. in Political Science.

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates are ValuePenguin's alone and for illustrative purposes only. The estimates are not a guarantee, agreement, or commitment to redemption amounts and may not have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).