Earn 40,000 Bonus Points With a Southwest Credit Card

Earn 40,000 Bonus Points With a Southwest Credit Card

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.

Southwest Airlines is a popular domestic carrier that flies to over 100 destinations in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. As the original, no-fee airline — that also allows you to check two free bags on every flight — it's no surprise that Southwest is favored by many.

If you're a Southwest loyalist, chances are you've considered one of their credit card offerings. There are three tiers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, ranging from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Although the annual fees are $69, $99 and $149, respectively, these cards currently offer the same sign-up bonus. With each card, you can Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining purchases for the first year.

In this guide, we will take a deep dive into each card's features and the best ways to redeem the welcome bonus.

Card comparison — the best of the benefits

Since all three cards offer the same welcome bonus, it's important to assess each card's benefits to determine the right fit for you. As the Southwest credit cards are issued by Chase, each card will come with valuable travel and consumer protection benefits.

Annual fee$69$99$149
Sign-up bonusEarn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining purchases for the first year.Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining purchases for the first year.Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining purchases for the first year.
Points awarded on cardmember anniversary3,000 points6,000 points7,500 points
Earning rateEarn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Pros
  • Extensive travel and consumer protections offered by Chase
  • Low annual fee
  • Extensive travel and consumer protections offered by Chase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn up to 15,000 tier qualifying points towards A-List Status
  • Extensive travel and consumer protections offered by Chase
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-List Status
  • $75 annual Southwest credit
  • Four upgraded boardings annually (subject to availability)
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and wifi
Cons
  • Charges a foreign transaction fee (3%)
  • Besides a lucrative sign-up bonus, no card benefits to note
  • Mediocre added benefits compared with the Plus card
  • High annual fee
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Here's what the cards have in common:

Besides the welcome bonus of 40,000 points, all three cards have the same 2X earning rate on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases.

You'll also receive bonus points on every anniversary of your account opening, but this number varies based on the type of card you have. Every year, you'll receive 3,000 points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, 6,000 points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and 7,500 points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Chase offers a number of travel and consumer protections that will come with each card. You'll be covered with extended purchase warranties to trip and auto rental insurance, saving yourself from any problems you may experience down the road.

Here are the key differences:

For those primarily interested in the large sign-up bonus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is for you. The $69 annual fee card doesn't offer much else for a traveler's card — only the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card waive foreign transaction fees.

If you're interested in landing A-List status, the latter two cards will also help you expedite this process. With either card, you can earn 1,500 tier qualifying points per $10,000 spent (for a maximum of 15,000 points per year). Keep in mind that A-List status members must earn 35,000 tier qualifying points or 25 flight segments per calendar year. These are the benefits of A-List status:

  • Priority boarding, check-in and security lane access
  • Earn 25% more Rapid Rewards points on flights
  • Access to same-day standby tickets
  • Dedicated customer service phone line

Furthermore, what distinguishes the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a number of added benefits that make the $149 annual fee worth it:

  • $75 Southwest credit, recurring annually
  • Four upgraded boardings, recurring annually
  • 20% in-flight food and Wi-Fi

For frequent Southwest flyers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best value out of the three card offerings, as this flight credit alone cuts the annual fee down by half. And compared to other airlines' top credit cards that come in at a much higher annual fee (upward of $450+), the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is much more reasonable at $149 per year.

What can you do with 40,000 Rapid Rewards points?

You may be wondering how to redeem 40,000 points. We value Southwest Rapid Rewards points around 1.5 cents each, making this sign-up bonus worth a whopping $600.

Southwest does not have a standard award redemption chart, so the number of points required will vary depending on the route. There are no blackout dates or restrictions when booking with points, so availability will not be an issue.

For under 40,000 points altogether, here is a sample of round-trip flights you can take with your welcome bonus.

Round trip from Oakland (OAK) to Honolulu (HNL): 20,124 points + $11.20 in taxes & fees

Round trip from Oakland

Round trip from New York (LGA) to Cancun (CUN): 12,168 points + $86.74 in taxes & fees

Round trip from New York

**Round trip from San Diego (SAN) to San Francisco (SFO): 7,488 points + $11.20 in taxes & fees **

Round trip from San Diego

As you can see, there are a ton of great redemptions to be found, with endless possibilities.

Using the bonus to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is a unique opportunity to choose one person to fly alongside you for the mere cost of taxes and fees. It's no wonder that the Companion Pass is so popular, as it provides tons of value for couples, families or travel partners.

You'll need to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass. The sign-up bonus will cover more than half of the 125,000 points required, allowing you to fast-track your way to the Companion Pass.

Once you meet this requirement, your Companion Pass will be active for the year that you applied and the entire following year. If you're strategic and earn the Companion Pass early enough in a calendar year, this means you could have this benefit for almost two full years.

Sign-up bonus restrictions

If you've received a welcome bonus from another personal Southwest card in the last 24 months, you won't be eligible to receive the current offer. However, this rule does not apply to Southwest business credit cards.

Finally, these cards are subject to Chase's 5/24 rule, meaning you won't qualify if you've opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months. This rule is crucial to be mindful of, as you'll want to make sure your next credit card is worth taking up one of these slots.

Is this a good time to apply?

Many people apply for airline cards to unlock key benefits, such as a free checked bag on every flight. Since Southwest already offers two free checked bags with every ticket (and in general, some of the most customer-friendly benefits in the industry), you won't necessarily need a card for these reasons.

Instead, there are plenty of other compelling reasons to apply for a Southwest card. If your goal is to earn your way to free flights, the strong sign-up bonus will help you get there. Likewise, earning A-List status is easier with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier or Priority cards. However, if your goal is to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you may want to be more intentional about when you apply. That way, you can extend the value of the benefit for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, all three Southwest credit cards are fantastic options to consider. The right choice for you will depend on what your personal travel goals are.

Stella Shon

Stella Shon is a travel credit cards writer with ValuePenguin. After studying abroad in Paris three years ago, she became determined to keep traveling. That’s when she discovered the world of points and miles, which enabled her to travel on a student budget. Since then, she’s flown over 150,000 miles and earned more than 500,000 points and miles with eight different credit cards. While in college, she even co-founded her own travel agency, helping her peers plan and book trips on a budget. As a recent journalism graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill, her goal is to write about travel to make it simpler and achievable for everyone. Her work has also appeared on JetBlue, The Points Guy, Travel + Leisure and CNBC.

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).

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