Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
On Chase's Secure Website
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review: Is It Worth It?

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review: Is It Worth It?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is for occasional Southwest Airlines flyers looking to earn valuable Rapid Rewards points at a minimal out-of-pocket cost.

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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.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Quick facts

  • Credit needed: Excellent/Good
  • Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earning rate: Receive 3,000 anniversary points each year. We're giving you even more including 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year, and more.
  • Annual fee: $69
  • Southwest airlines benefits: Two complimentary Early Bird Check-In® credits per year, 25% back on in-flight purchases, 3,000 Rapid Rewards points every year on your cardmember anniversary
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
  • Earns companion pass points: The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to choose a designated companion to fly with you nearly for free for as long as you hold the pass.

Southwest Companion Pass Tip: Focus your efforts on accumulating Rapid Rewards® points to earn the Southwest Companion pass.

  • Book flights with Southwest
  • Book travel with Rapid Rewards® partners
  • Use a Southwest credit card

Pros

  • Solid welcome offer worth over $500
  • Annual bonus of 3,000 Rapid Rewards points, worth around $40
  • 2 Early Bird Check-In® credits per year
  • Points earned count toward Southwest Companion Pass qualification

Cons

  • $69 annual fee
  • Foreign transaction fees apply to international purchases
  • Inferior earnings on Southwest purchases and fewer benefits than other Rapid Rewards credit cards
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review: Easy to earn miles for a low annual fee

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could be perfect for someone who’s interested in flying more and wants to save money by using frequent flyer miles. By spending on the card, you'll earn Southwest Rapid Rewards for your purchases, which can help you fund your next trip for less.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a particularly good choice for occasional flyers because of its simplicity and low annual fee. Keep in mind, though, that this card charges a foreign transaction fee, so it isn’t the best choice for international travelers.

Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card worth it?

First Year Savings

$765 ?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a good pick for a Southwest Visa credit card if you're looking to earn Rapid Rewards points without paying an excessive annual fee. The average cardholder will net around $765 in rewards their first year.

Cardholders also get two free Early Bird Check-In® credits each year, which are valued starting at $30 (minimum $15 each). With these included, the average cardholder will have a net value of around $795.

Earn 40,000 points

With a new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you can Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Based on our estimated value of Rapid Rewards points, this offer is worth approximately $560 in travel.

That's a solid value compared to other airline credit card offers currently available — but for some card applicants comparing sign-up bonuses, it might be a hair low.

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What it's worth: Around $560 in free travel on Southwest Airlines

Who's eligible to earn this offer? You are eligible for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card and have not received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months (this restriction doesn't apply to business card and employee credit card products). The card may also be subject to the Chase 5/24 rule for new accounts.

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Earn 2X points on a variety of purchases

Unlike some airline credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers bonus points on a number of everyday spending categories, making it easier to collect points when you're not traveling. For example, you'll not only earn extra Rapid Rewards points on all Southwest Airlines purchases. You'll also get bonus points when you use your card to pay certain bills.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you can Receive 3,000 anniversary points each year. We're giving you even more including 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year, and more.

We estimate that you'll receive a value of $0.015 per $1 spent with the card.

One downside to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, though, is that it doesn't offer nearly as many bonus points for Southwest Airlines purchases as other Southwest cards. For example, both the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offer 3X points per $1 spent on purchases made through Southwest.

Check out how the rewards earned per dollar compares to other travel cards in the chart below.

Average rewards earned per $1 spent

We estimate an earning rate for the average consumer based on U.S. Bureau of Labor data and multiply that by the value of each card’s points or miles.

What are Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card points worth?

Unlike some other airlines' loyalty programs, Southwest makes all their seats available as award seats. While your points don't have an exact value, the number required for a given award varies dynamically based on the cash price of the ticket. Based on our research, we expect that most consumers will get around 1.4 cents per Rapid Rewards point when booking Southwest award flights.

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Redeeming points

Rapid Rewards is a fully revenue-based program, where the number of points needed for an award is reflective of the cash fare. This means that award tickets will be expensive during peak travel times when fares are high, but low when fares are cheap. The cheapest Southwest award tickets can start at less than 3,000 points, which is a fantastic deal. On the other end of the spectrum, you could pay over 25,000 miles for a one-way flight.

This means that the welcome offer for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could get you more than ten free one-way tickets, or it may not even cover a round-trip — it all depends on how you use the points. With every seat available as a reward seat, redeeming points for flights is a cinch at southwest.com.

Southwest has three fare classes: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select. Wanna Get Away fares are the cheapest, but most restrictive. At times, these seats may be sold out, and you'll have to book an Anytime or Business Select fare. Check out the difference in fare types in the chart below.

Business Select
Anytime
Wanna Get Away
Fully refundable if you cancel your flight
Same-day change
Same-day standby
Priority boarding A1-A15
Fly By (priority check out and security lanes)
Complimentary premium drink

Other Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card benefits

Besides rewarding you with points through both the welcome offer and monthly spending, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers some other exclusive perks.

In addition to a generous sign-up bonus up front, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card rewards you for keeping it for the long term. Each cardmember anniversary, you'll be rewarded with 3,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

This is an annual value of about $42, using ValuePenguin's estimates for Rapid Rewards points, which means it covers more than 50% of the card's annual fee.

Early Bird Check-In® is Southwest's paid service that automatically checks you in for your flight 24 hours before departure. Unlike most other airlines, Southwest doesn’t assign seats — instead, you’re assigned a boarding number based on when you check in. Early Bird Check-In® provides a better boarding position, which means you're more likely to get a better seat.

The cost of Early Bird Check-In® starts at $15. Your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card will automatically reimburse you for two Early-Bird purchases each year as a statement credit, which is a savings of at least $30 annually.

Whenever you use your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to purchase onboard extras, such as snacks or Wi-Fi, you'll receive 25% back on your purchases as a statement credit. Statement credits will be posted the same day that the purchase posts to your credit card statement.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers Visa Signature lost luggage reimbursement coverage, which pairs well with the two free checked bags you receive every time you fly Southwest Airlines. If any checked or carry-on luggage is lost or damaged by the carrier, you'll be covered up to $3,000 per passenger. This benefit applies to the cardholder and to immediate family members.

Even if your luggage is just delayed, you're still covered. In the event an air carrier delivers your baggage at least six hours late, your card will reimburse you for essential purchases, such as toiletries and clothing. Make sure to notify the benefits administrator within 20 days of the date your bag was delayed; keep original, itemized receipts; and pay for necessary items with your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to receive reimbursement.

Any eligible purchases you make with your card enjoy purchase protection for 120 days from the date of purchase. Items are covered against theft or damage, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per card account.

Your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card also provides an additional year of protection for eligible purchases with a U.S. manufacturer's warranty. This applies to all eligible warranties of three years or less.

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best benefits offered to Southwest Airlines frequent flyers. It allows you to select one other person who can fly with you for free, regardless of whether it's a cash fare or an award ticket booked with points. With your Companion Pass, all you pay for flights are taxes and fees!

To receive the Companion Pass benefit, you must either fly 100 qualifying segments or earn a total of 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. While your credit card won't award flight segments, any points earned through Southwest credit card count toward Companion Pass qualification, including points from welcome offers. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card can make it much easier to earn this superb benefit.

{"backgroundColor":"butter","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3\u003EEarning the Southwest Companion Pass\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Southwest Airlines Companion Pass: Best and Fastest Ways to Earn in 2022\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/travel\/southwest-companion-pass\"\u003ESouthwest Companion Pass\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E is one of the best benefits offered to Southwest Airlines frequent flyers. It allows you to select one other person who can fly with you for free, regardless of whether it's a cash fare or an award ticket booked with points. With your Companion Pass, all you pay for flights are taxes and fees!\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ETo receive the Companion Pass benefit, you must either fly 100 qualifying segments or earn a total of 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. While your credit card won't award flight segments, any points earned through Southwest credit card count toward Companion Pass qualification, including points from welcome offers. The Southwest Rapid Rewards\u00ae Plus Credit Card can make it much easier to earn this superb benefit.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

How does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card compare to other cards?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is just one of three personal Southwest credit cards. But while it has the cheapest annual fee of the trio, the other two options both offer additional perks.

To help you decide which card is the best choice for you, we'll compare the value among all three cards, and see how the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card stacks up against another excellent travel card.

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

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Verdict: Valuable benefits for occasional Southwest Airlines customers who want to avoid an excessive annual fee.

With a $99 annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good choice for more frequent Southwest Airlines customers. The card lets you Receive 6,000 anniversary points each year. We're giving you even more including 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming, 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year, and more. The card's 6,000 annual bonus is worth about $84, covering most of the annual fee. A final benefit is the ability to earn Southwest A-List tier qualifying points by spending on the card.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $99 (worse)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. (same)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.016 (better)
  • Other benefits: 6,000 annual bonus points, two free Early Bird Check-In® credits each year, 25% back on in-flight purchases, $0 foreign transaction fees and you can earn 1,500 unlimited tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend (better)

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

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Verdict: Best for frequent Southwest flyers who can take advantage of a slew of excellent benefits.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best choice for anyone who flies with Southwest at least several times per year. It costs the most — a $149 annual fee — but the benefits more than make up for this value. You can Receive 7,500 anniversary points and a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year. We're giving you even more including 3X points on Southwest purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming, and more. As with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you can also spend your way to A-List status.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $149 (worse)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. (same)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.016 (better)
  • Other benefits: 7,500 annual bonus points, four upgraded boardings each year, $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 25% back on in-flight purchases, $0 foreign transaction fees and you can earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend (better)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Verdict: A flexible cards that lets you earn points you can redeem for travel in a variety of ways.

For those leery of being locked into earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is likely a better fit. The card earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed directly for travel or transferred to a variety of travel partners, including Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. The card also has solid earning rates: 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases and 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases. However, its $95 annual fee is a bit more than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $95 (worse)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. (better)
  • Rewards earned/$1 spent: $0.025 (better)
  • Other benefits: $50 annual hotel stay statement credit, points worth 25% more when used for travel through Chase, $0 foreign transaction fees and the ability to transfer points to Chase travel partners at a 1:1 ratio (better)

Should you apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card?

If you fly occasionally with Southwest Airlines and want to limit how much you spend on an annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card may be a good choice for you. The card has the cheapest annual fee among all Southwest Airlines credit cards and offers a handful of nice perks when you fly with Southwest. You’ll also be awarded 3,000 annual bonus points if you hold onto the card, which limits the impact of the annual fee even more.

For those who fly more regularly with Southwest Airlines, the other Southwest credit cards could be a better choice. Business owners are likely to get great value out of the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. If you don't fly exclusively with Southwest, a general travel credit card that lets you transfer points to a variety of airlines could be more ideal for you.

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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Editor's Rating

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