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7 Best Southwest Credit Cards of 2022: What To Know

7 Best Southwest Credit Cards of 2022: What To Know

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best co-branded Southwest credit card, offering $300+ in Southwest perks per year. Opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, a general travel card, in lieu of a Southwest card, if you care less about Southwest perks and more about earning points (transferable to Southwest) at a better value.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Southwest is a favorite airline of many travelers thanks to its flyer-friendly policies.

It’s easy to accumulate Southwest Rapid Rewards points for reward flights. Plus, travelers can opt to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. That means there are plenty of credit cards that can earn Southwest points, either directly or indirectly.

Compare the best Southwest credit cards of 2022

Card
Welcome Offer
Credit Needed
Annual Fee
Overall (co-branded)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Priority Credit Card
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.720 - 850$149
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Overall (general travel)
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.720 - 850$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Low annual fee (co-branded)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Plus Credit Card
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.660 - 850$69
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Compare all cards

Welcome Offer

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Credit Score Needed

720 - 850
720 - 850

Annual Fee

$149
$95
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Best Southwest credit card overall (co-branded)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

$149

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 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, phone services, and select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Anniversary Bonus: 7,500 Southwest points

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is packed with more than enough Southwest perks to offset the $149 annual fee. Here are some of the highlights:

Pros

  • 4 upgraded boardings per year
  • Earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • Complimentary EarlyBird Check-In® twice each year
  • 25% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi
  • Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List status
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • No annual EarlyBird Check-In®s unlike the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Same 3X earning rate on Southwest purchases as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Highest annual fee of consumer co-branded cards: $149

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is our favorite card for frequent Southwest flyers. The card offers a suite of perks that can more than justify the card’s $149 annual fee. Cardholders get a 7,500-point bonus each cardmember anniversary, a $75 Southwest annual travel credit and four upgraded boardings.

The 7,500-point bonus is the highest offered on a Southwest card and offsets 75% of the card's $150 annual fee.


Best Southwest credit card overall (general travel)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

$95

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
Earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®

In addition to solid point-earning rates, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also shines when it comes to the card’s benefits. Here are some of its highlights:

Pros

  • Transfer points 1:1 to 10+ airline and hotel partners
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Chase's friend referral bonus is inferior to Southwest's referral bonus: earn up to 75,000 points (15,000 per friend) versus 100,000 points (20,000 per friend) annually.
  • Purchasing Southwest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards® points requires more steps than points earned through a co-branded Southwest card. Southwest Rapid Rewards cardmembers can keep track of points earned in one place, the Southwest dashboard.

If you’re looking to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you aren’t limited to just Southwest co-branded credit cards. That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards®, transfers to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. And our favorite Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card happens to be one of our favorite all-around travel cards: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This card offers a solid points earning rate and excellent travel and purchase protections. If plans change, you have the option of redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for plenty of options besides Southwest points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders earn Ultimate Rewards points: 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card This earning rate of 2X on travel matches the 2X earning rate on most Southwest cards for Southwest purchases. However, if you favor flexibility, take note that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card bonus category goes well beyond Southwest purchases to include all travel purchases, as well as dining. That means the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a much better option for earning points from purchases than most Southwest co-branded cards.


Best Southwest credit card with a low annual fee (co-branded)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

$69

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 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, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
Anniversary Bonus: 3,000 Southwest points

As the Chase Rapid Rewards card with the lowest annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card doesn’t offer any Southwest perks besides earning points on purchases and the card’s anniversary bonus. However, as stated above, the card provides travel benefits through Visa, including:

Pros

  • Complimentary EarlyBird Check-In® twice each year
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass

Cons

  • Lack of $75 Southwest® annual travel credit, which comes with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Missed opportunity to accumulate 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points to fast track you to A-List and A-List Preferred status
  • Only Southwest co-branded card with a foreign transaction fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers the lowest annual fee of Southwest’s three personal credit cards. Understandably, that means the perks of the card are less than what you’d find on the other Southwest cards. Still, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card does offer a solid earning rate and an anniversary points bonus that helps offset the card’s $69 annual fee.

Use the two annual EarlyBird Check-In®s that come with this card to get earlier seat selection and boarding position.


Best Southwest credit card with a mid-range annual fee (co-branded)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

$99

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 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, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Anniversary Bonus: 6,000 Southwest points

In addition to all of the travel protection benefits available on all Southwest cards, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card holders get the following perks:

Pros

  • Complimentary EarlyBird Check-In® twice each year
  • Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List status
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass

Cons

  • A less valuable card than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card — it lacks the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card's $75 Southwest annual travel credit, but charges a $99 annual fee ($46 less than $149)

If the annual fee on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is too pricey and the perks on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card too limited, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card may be your Goldilocks card. Cardholders get a 6,000-point bonus each cardmember anniversary and $0 foreign transaction fees. Plus, spending on the card will help boost you toward A-List elite status.

This card also comes with two EarlyBird Check-In®s each year, which provide earlier boarding position and seat selection.


Best Southwest credit card for business (co-branded)

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

On Chase's Secure Website

Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

$199

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car 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.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Fee Credit.
Anniversary Bonus: 9,000 Southwest points

In addition to the valuable anniversary bonus and strong earning rates, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers plenty of other valuable benefits:

Pros

  • 4 upgraded boardings per year
  • In-flight Wi-Fi credits
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee credit
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • No fees for employee credit cards

Cons

  • Extensive perk list may not be suitable for a new small business.

The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is easily our favorite Southwest card for small businesses. It charges a hefty $199 annual fee, but the perks are incredible. Cardholders get a 9,000-point anniversary bonus, a reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fees, four upgraded boardings each year and up to 365 in-flight Wi-Fi credits.

The 4 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases is the highest earning rate offered by a Southwest credit card.


Best Southwest credit card for business with a low annual fee (co-branded)

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.

$99

18.24% - 25.24% Variable

720 - 850

  • 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 partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn unlimited tier qualifying points towards A-List status.
Anniversary Bonus: 6,000 Southwest points

The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card doesn’t offer the suite of benefits that the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers — still, the good news is that it doesn’t charge foreign transaction or employee card fees:

Pros

  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • No fees for employee credit cards

Cons

  • Lacks the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement offered by the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card to help make up for the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card's $99 annual fee (note - this perk makes up for the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card’s $199 annual fee - consider it instead).

If you can’t justify the $199 annual fee of the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, perhaps the $99 annual fee on the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card may be a better fit for your small business. It comes with a lower earning rate and lacks airline perks like in-flight Wi-Fi credits. However, it still offers decent point earnings, including 3X points on Southwest purchases and 6,000 points each year on your card anniversary.

Want to consolidate debt without restricting your travel? This card doubles as a balance transfer card and cardholders will earn 1 point per dollar on the first $15,000 in balance transfers in the first 90 days from opening a Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.


Runner-up: best credit card for Southwest (general travel)

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

On Capital One's Secure Website

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

$95

18.99% - 26.99% (Variable)

660 - 850

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through our Partner Lounge Network
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Earns Capital One Travel rewards

Pros

  • Transfer points to 15+ travel partners
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck®
  • None foreign transaction fees
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver

Cons

  • Southwest is not a transfer partner
  • Capital One points are valued less than Southwest points at 1 cent versus 1.4 cents
  • This card earns 2X on Southwest purchases (with its 2 miles earned per every purchase), which is less than our preferred Southwest co-branded card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, earning rate of 3X

If you don’t want to deal with bonus categories or transferring points, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is our favorite option for travel minimalists. You earn the same rewards on every purchase, and your Capital One miles are simple to redeem: You can redeem them as statement credits at a value of 1 cent each to "erase" any travel purchase (including Southwest airfare).

The Capital One miles earned with this card are more flexible: you can redeem them for any kind of travel purchase and transfer them to a variety of loyalty programs. However these miles are less valuable than Southwest points (worth only 1 cent each).


Best Southwest Credit Card for students

Chase Freedom® Student credit card

On Chase's Secure Website

$50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening

$0

17.24% Variable

660 - 850

  • $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No annual fee
  • $20 Good Standing Rewards after each account anniversary for up to 5 years
  • Earn a credit limit increase after making 5 monthly payments on time within 10 months from account opening when meeting credit criteria
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.
  • Free credit score with Chase Credit Journey

Pros

  • $50 Bonus after first purchase made within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn cash back on every purchase, plus $20 annual Good Standing rewards
  • $0 annual fee

Cons

  • Only available to students
  • Charges a 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars foreign transaction fee

The Chase Freedom® Student credit card is a solid option for students with limited credit histories. You can redeem its Ultimate Rewards points for cash back. Or you can save up your points and eventually transfer them to a premium Chase card — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — once you're able to qualify. From there you can transfer points to Southwest Rapid Rewards.

How much are Southwest points worth?

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth around 1.4 cents per point when redeemed for Southwest reward flights.

However, the Southwest points value varies due to taxes and fees. Most flight redemptions provide between 1.4 and 1.6 cents per point in value.

The number of Rapid Rewards points required for a flight varies depending on the base fare of the flight and the type of fare, but it typically hovers around 78 points per dollar of base fare.

Example: Let’s take a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS) on June 3, 2022 that costs $78.98. After subtracting $19.09 in taxes and fees, the base fare is $59.89:

LAS to LAX flight cost in dollars

To book this flight with points, you’ll need to pay 4,971 Rapid Rewards points (83 points per $1 of base fare) plus $5.60 of taxes/fees.

LAS to LAX flight cost in points

After factoring in the taxes/fees on the reward flight, booking a reward flight saves you $65.49 of out-of-pocket cost. That’s a savings of $0.79 cents per point.

To calculate the value of your Rapid Rewards points, use this simple equation:

Point value for fare = Cash price (minus taxes and fees) / Number of points needed for fare

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How to choose the best Southwest credit card

The best Southwest card is the one that provides you the best value by matching your travel preferences and spending patterns, with benefits that you can actually use.

Consider prioritizing the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass lets you choose a designated companion to fly with you nearly for free for up to two years.

To earn the pass, you must collect 125,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest in a calendar year.

You’ll want to opt to earn points on a Southwest credit card instead of a Chase Sapphire card if earning Companion Pass points is your goal.

All Southwest co-branded cards earn Companion Pass-eligible points, which includes both points earned through purchases and those earned through a credit card sign-up bonus. This makes Southwest credit cards an indispensable way to help you earn one of the most valuable perks in travel.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer to Rapid Rewards points, but these transferred points do not qualify as Companion Pass-eligible points.

Compare the anniversary bonus to the annual fee

All Southwest co-branded credit cards offer an anniversary bonus benefit. In each case, this anniversary bonus can offset a substantial amount of the card’s annual fee.

Both the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card offer a 6,000-point bonus each cardmember anniversary. With Southwest points valued at around 1.4 cents per point, that’s a perk worth $84 each year — that offsets almost all of the $99 annual fee on these cards.

The three other Southwest cards also offer anniversary bonuses that offset a substantial portion of the card’s annual fee:

Card
Anniversary bonus
Estimated value
Annual fee
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card3,000 points$42$69
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card6,000 points$90$99
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card7,500 points$105$149
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card6,000 points$84$99
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card9,000 points$126$199

Decide how much you value A-list status

A-List is Southwest’s elite status program. If you fly Southwest enough to potentially earn A-List status, you should consider getting a Southwest credit card to help you toward qualifying. The two levels of A-List status are:

  • A-List: 25 one-way flights or 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQP)
  • A-List Preferred: 50 one-way flights or 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQP)

Four Southwest credit cards offer cardholders a way to earn Tier Qualifying Points through spending. Cardholders earn 1,500 TQP for every $10,000 in purchases made on the following cards, with no cap on the amount of TQPs earned:

You can earn a total of 15,000 TQP through credit card spending — but that doesn’t even get you halfway to A-List status. So, you should only consider this way of earning Tier Qualifying Points if you plan to earn plenty of TQP through flying Southwest.

Consider the value of upgraded boardings

Forgot to check-in for your Southwest flight 24 hours before departure? If you don’t want to get stuck with a category B or C boarding position, you can pay to be one of the first passengers to board. Southwest charges $30, $40 or $50 per flight for Upgraded Boarding, depending on the itinerary.

If this is a fee that you’d consider paying, there are two Southwest credit cards that you’ll want to consider. Both the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Card reimburse up to four Upgraded Boarding purchases each anniversary year. That’s up to $200 in savings from just this one card benefit.

Look at travel insurance benefits

All Southwest credit cards offer solid travel protections through Visa. These include:

  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (Personal cards): Secondary in the U.S., primary in international destinations
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver (Business cards): Primary for business-related purposes
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Lost luggage replacement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Travel accident insurance

You’ll find even better travel protections on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. In addition to these benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance and Trip Delay Reimbursement, not to mention a primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.

Decide if you want to pay foreign transaction fees

If you’re making purchases overseas, foreign transaction fees can really add to the total cost of your trip. Thankfully, there are plenty of cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, including almost all of the Southwest co-branded credit cards.

Only the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card charges a 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars foreign transaction fee, so you’ll want to avoid this option if you plan to use your Southwest points-earning card for overseas purchases.

Consider other card benefits

  • Wi-Fi credits. If you frequently purchase Wi-Fi on Southwest flights, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is the clear winner. The card offers up to 365 $8 statement credits each year to reimburse Southwest in-flight Wi-Fi purchases.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck®. Dozens of cards reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fees. However, the only Southwest-focused card that offers this benefit is the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. Cardholders will be reimbursed up to $100 every four years when charging a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fee to the card.
  • Free checked bags. One benefit that’s standard on most airline credit cards is free checked bags. However, that’s not necessary on Southwest cards, as all Southwest passengers can check up to two standard-sized and standard-weight bags for free.

Compare Southwest credit card benefits

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Annual fee$69$99$149N/A
Anniversary bonus3,000 points6,000 points7,500 points9,000 points
Earns tier-qualifying points
Boarding perks2 early-bird check-ins per year2 early-bird check-ins per year4 upgraded boardings per year when available4 upgraded boardings per year when available
Southwest travel credit$75 annual travel credit
25% back on in-flight purchases

How many Southwest points are needed for a flight?

The number of Southwest Rapid Rewards required for a reward flight varies greatly and is a factor of the base fare of that flight. Here are some examples of Southwest award prices for June 3, 2022:

Destination
Business Select
Anytime
Wanna Get Away
Los Angeles (LAX) to Las Vegas (LAS)11,920 points8,832points2,655 points
Chicago (MDW) to New York LaGuardia (LGA)18,869 points15,780 points9,604 points
Atlanta (ATL) to Orlando (MCO)19,872 points16,784 points10,608 points
Boston (BOS) to Miami (MIA)29,987 points26,898 points20,722 points
Phoenix (PHX) to Seattle (SEA)29,292 points26,204 points20,027 points
Minneapolis (MSP) to Dallas (DAL)18,869 points15,780 points9,604 points

How to use your Southwest credit card

Southwest lets flyers save credit card information in their Rapid Rewards account for ease in purchasing flights.

Chase credit cards can be added to mobile wallets such as Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. This is a great way to still use your Southwest credit card even if you happen to forget your purse or wallet.

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep in mind that credit card perks are only valuable when used. The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card may offer up to $2,920 in reimbursements for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases, but if you rarely use this perk, it’s not worth much to you.

Is a co-branded Southwest credit card right for you?

ValuePenguin recommends considering a general travel card before applying for a co-branded Southwest card.

While a Southwest credit card is a good option for getting Southwest perks (including the Southwest Companion Pass), you may be better served by a more flexible travel card that lets you redeem points on any airline.

Co-branded card: Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card for the best perks for the annual fee paid. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is best if you have less wiggle room in your budget and value a low annual fee over fast-tracking status. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is good if you can't justify the highest annual fee but will find value in accumulating a larger anniversary bonus. Co-branded card perks include:

  • Earn points that you can only use on Southwest
  • Earn the Southwest companion pass
  • Earn A-list status (some cards only)
  • Get Southwest perks like upgraded boardings and Wi-Fi credits (only on some cards)

General travel card: General travel cards can be more valuable than a co-branded Southwest card — for example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is more valuable than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card because of its earning rate and sign-up bonus. General travel card perks include:

  • Earn points you can use for any airline
  • Get additional benefits like Priority Pass access and primary rental car insurance (depending on the card)
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earning rateEarn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases
Points/miles earned ($2,000 Southwest flights, $2,000 dining, $14,000 other purchases)22,00024,000
Sign-up bonusEarn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Total points earned in first year72,00084,000
Redemption optionsSouthwest airfareChase Ultimate Rewards® travel for 25% more value, cash back for 1 cent per point, transfer to 13 travel partners, including Southwest
Target redemption optionSouthwest airfare (worth 1.4 cents/point)Southwest airfare (worth 1.4 cents/point)
Value of rewards$1,008$1,176
Annual fee$99$95
First year value$909$1,081
Other benefits
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In®s per year
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Primary car rental insurance
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Trip delay reimbursement
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Transfer points to travel partners at 1:1 ratio
  • 25% redemption bonus on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for cash back
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
On Chase's Secure Website

Southwest credit card FAQs

A Southwest credit card may be worth it if any of the following statements are true: You want to earn Southwest points when using your card. You want to earn Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List status through credit card spending (this is available on all Southwest cards except the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card). You can get value from the card’s perks — such as Upgraded Boardings, annual travel credits or reimbursed Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fees. You want to earn points that qualify toward the Southwest Companion pass.

Southwest credit cards require an Excellent/Good credit score, which means you need a credit score of at least 680 to qualify for a card.

You can only have one personal Southwest card at once. Chase won’t approve you for a new personal Southwest credit card if you are a current cardholder of a personal Southwest card, or a previous cardholder who’s received a new bonus in the last 24 months. Chase will approve dual ownership of a Southwest business and consumer card.

Southwest business cards have different policies. Although you may not be eligible to get a sign-up bonus, Chase won’t restrict you from getting a Southwest business card if you’re a current Southwest business cardholder. So, it’s possible to have multiple Southwest business cards plus up to one personal Southwest card.

Chase cites a typical wait period of 10 to 14 days upon approval of your new card.

You can use your Southwest credit card anywhere Visa is accepted. However, note that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card charges foreign transaction fees — so while you could use the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card when traveling internationally, you’ll incur foreign transaction fees when doing so.

All Southwest credit cards that are currently available to new cardholders offer car rental insurance in the form of an auto rental collision damage waiver benefit. To use this benefit, decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire car rental to your card.

As with other Chase credit cards, you could potentially be approved for a Southwest credit card as quickly as within a minute of submitting your application. However, in some cases, Chase may need more time to evaluate and approve your application. You could also be required to provide additional information to get approved. Mail-in applications typically take longer than online and in-person applications, due to manual review. Note — credit card issuers are required to respond to your application within 30 days.

The best time to apply for a Southwest credit card is when Chase and Southwest are offering an elevated sign-up bonus. These limited-time offers may pop up any time of the year. Another great time to consider applying is in the last three months of the year, as earning the sign-up bonus on a Southwest credit card (or two) can give you a huge boost toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

If you’re hoping to use this method to shortcut your way to earning a Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll want to apply for one or more Southwest cards in October, November or December. Then, wait until after your December statement closes to reach the minimum spending requirements for the bonus. That way, the bonus points will be posted to your Rapid Rewards account in January of the next calendar year, which will give you a boost toward earning the Companion Pass in that year. For more about this strategy, see our article on Southwest Companion Pass tricks.

You can earn 2X-3X points on some travel and transit purchases depending on the card and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

Check the paperwork you received with your card. You can activate your card online through the card’s activation page, or you can call the 1-800 number provided with the card to activate it by phone. Alternatively, you can call Chase’s technical support hotline for help: 800-935-9935. While you’re at it, make sure the card is linked to your Rapid Rewards account.

To pay your Southwest credit card, you can log in to your account to schedule a payment, mail in a check or call Chase directly to pay by phone (see our list of Chase phone numbers and mailing addresses). You can also set up automatic payments for your Southwest card via your online account.

Southwest offers free drink coupons as a perk to frequent flyers. To receive a coupon, you need to complete 10 revenue flights (flights booked with cash rather than points). You’ll also need to join the Rapid Rewards program, since coupons are mailed to the address on your Rapid Rewards account.

A Southwest gift card is only redeemable for travel on Southwest airlines. Furthermore, purchasing Rapid Rewards generally costs more than what they’re worth in travel, so buying points with a gift card should be avoided.

One of the best perks of flying with Southwest is that you can check your luggage for free. Southwest allows each customer to check two bags at no cost (weight and size restrictions apply) and, similar to other airlines, allows one carry-on and personal item per customer.

To get Wi-Fi on Southwest, you need to connect to Southwest’s Wi-Fi network using a Wi-Fi enabled device (you’ll also need to download the Southwest app to access some of the content). You can access TV, movies and messaging (via iMessage and WhatsApp) for free. To get internet access — including browsing the web and checking email — you’ll need to pay an $8 fee. Note, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card gives you 365 Wi-Fi credits, allowing you to access the internet without paying a fee.

Recap of the best Southwest credit cards for 2022

Methodology

To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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 here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and 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 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).