Compare the Best Southwest Credit Card Offers for 2022

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In a world of complaint-ridden airlines, Southwest Airlines stands apart. Its customers – and its employees – are some of the happiest among the bunch.

It’s understandable why you’d be curious about Southwest’s Rapid Rewards® credit card offers.

Southwest has five card options, including two business cards and the new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. This recently-released premium card hopes to compete with other top travel rewards credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

With any travel rewards card, your goal is to earn points with your regular spending, which you can later cash in for flights. But which Southwest credit card offer is right for you? Here’s what you need to know about these cards – and how to choose one.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Southwest Credit Card Offers

With five cards on the market, it can be tough to decide which Southwest credit card offer to pick.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Our rating: 5 out of 5

You’ll need a good credit score for this card. It has an annual fee of $149 and a purchase APR of 18.24% – 25.24% variable. You can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn with:

  • 7,500 cardmember anniversary points each year
  • 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® car and hotel partners
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year (when available)
  • All points earned count toward Companion Pass®
  • No foreign transaction fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Our rating: 4 out of 5

You’ll need a good credit score for this card, too. It has an annual fee of $99 and a purchase APR of 18.24% – 25.24% variable. You can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Enjoy additional benefits and ways to earn with:

  • 6,000 cardmember anniversary points each year
  • 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® car and hotel partners
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® per year
  • All points earned count toward Companion Pass®
  • No foreign transaction fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Our rating: 4 out of 5

Again, you’ll need a good credit score for this card. It has an annual fee of $69 and a purchase APR of 18.24% – 25.24% variable. You can earn 50,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Then, enjoy more benefits and ways to earn with:

  • 3,000 cardmember anniversary points each year
  • 2X points on Southwest Airline® purchases
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® car and hotel partners
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® per year
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Our rating: 3 out of 5

You’ll need a good credit score for this card as well. It has an annual fee of $99 and a purchase APR of 18.24% – 25.24% variable. You can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Also, enjoy extra benefits and ways to earn with:

  • 6,000 cardmember anniversary points each year
  • 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® car and hotel partners
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® per year
  • Unlimited tier qualifying points toward A-List status (1,500 points for evey $10,000 spent)
  • No foreign transaction fees

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Our rating: 5 out of 5

You’ll need a good credit score for this card. It has an annual fee of $199 and a purchase APR of 18.24% – 25.24% variable. You can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of your account being open. Plus, enjoy added benefits and ways to earn with:

  • 9,000 cardmember anniversary points each year
  • 4X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 3X points on Rapid Rewards® car and hotel partners
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year (when available)
  • Unlimited tier qualifying points toward A-List status (1,500 points for evey $10,000 spent)
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • No foreign transaction fees

Why Choose Southwest Credit Card Offers?

If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, you know it does things a bit differently than the big guys.

It’s known for its quirky, “luv”-filled approach to flying. The company also shares profits with its employees (which might be why they’re so pleasant).

Southwest’s route map includes flights all over the continental U.S., Central America and the Caribbean.

In addition to its killer rewards program – which we’ll explain below – people also love Southwest because it doesn’t charge exorbitant fees. Even its mid-tier card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, has credits to offset the cost and make it quite affordable.

Unlike other airlines, which charge ticket change fees between $75 – $200, Southwest allows you to change or cancel your flight for free. Since the airline frequently runs fare sales, this means if you find a lower price, you can rebook your flight with no penalty.

Southwest also lets you check two bags for free.

Since its route map is more limited than major airlines, be sure to check it before applying for one of these cards. If your home airport doesn’t have a lot of Southwest departures, a Southwest card probably isn’t your best option. Consider other airline credit cards or try a broad travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

How Does Southwest’s Rapid Rewards® Program Work?

The biggest reason to become a Southwest cardholder is because you’ll earn more points on your Southwest purchases with the airline’s loyalty program, Rapid Rewards®.

Like most frequent flyer programs, you can redeem Rapid Rewards® points for car rentals, gift cards or merchandise.

But the most valuable redemption is for flights. Southwest bases redemption rates on factors like distance traveled, demand, date and fare type.

The more points you’re willing to part with, the better fare class you’ll get. One of the best things about Southwest’s awards redemptions is the lack of blackout dates. As long as there’s a seat available, you can book it using Rapid Rewards® points.

The airline’s other famous perk is its Companion Pass®, which lets someone accompany you for free on all Southwest flights for up to 2 years. (Since this perk deserves its own section, we’ll dive into it later.)

Accruing Southwest Rapid Rewards® points can also help you achieve elite status with the airline. Here are the two different levels:

A-List

To achieve A-List status, you must either take 25 one-way flights or earn 35,000 “tier qualifying points,” also called TQPs, – which are different than regular Rapid Rewards® points. When you do, here’s what you’ll get:

  • Priority boarding, check-in and security lane access
  • 25% earning bonus on each flight
  • Free same-day standby

Priority boarding is particularly nice on Southwest flights, as seats aren’t assigned beforehand. If you don’t have elite status and don’t pay for premium access, your boarding position will be based on how early you check in for your flight.

A-List Preferred

To achieve A-List Preferred status, you must either take 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 TQPs. When you do, you’ll get all the perks of A-List, plus:

  • 100% earning bonus on each flight
  • Free in-flight WiFi

Note that regular spending on your Southwest credit cards won’t be nearly enough to reach elite status. While four of the five Southwest credit cards earn TQPs, it doesn’t amount to much. You’ll get 1,500 points for every $10,000 you spend, up to a maximum of 15,000 TQPs per card.

In other words, don’t count on your credit cards to help you achieve elite status. You’ll need to take Southwest flights to do that.

How Much Are Southwest Rapid Rewards® Points Worth?

As is the case with many credit card and travel rewards programs, Rapid Rewards® points don’t have a set value. Southwest itself mentions that redemption value can be impacted by “destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare type, point redemption rate and other factors.” So the value of your points will likely vary between one redemption and the next. Although, with Southwest, these fluctuations don’t tend to be terribly significant.

You can generally expect to get a value of around 1.5 cents per point. This is about as good or better than a lot of other airlines, like Delta and United.

Remember that prices can change by the day until the trips actually take place. So if you’re intent on getting the value you see when researching a flight, you may want to redeem for it right then and there.

Which Southwest Credit Card Gets You a Companion Pass®?

Ah, the Southwest Companion Pass®. Once you earn it, one companion will be able to fly free on all your Southwest flights until the end of the following year.

To get a Companion Pass®, you’ll need to take 100 one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

For most of us, the second option is more feasible.

You could earn the pass by getting approved for two Southwest credit card offers, then snagging the signup bonuses for each. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card are good picks.

You can’t hold more than one Southwest consumer card. So you’d need to apply for one of the regular Southwest cards, plus a business card.

Here’s one way it could work using sample bonus offers:

  • You apply for a personal card, spend $2,000 in 3 months and earn 65,000 bonus points.
  • You apply for the Performance business card, spend $5,000 in 3 months and earn 70,000 bonus points.
  • You now have at least 142,000 points – 135,000 signup bonus points and at least 7,000 points from meeting the minimum spend.

Tada! That’s more than 125,000 points in just a few months. Not only can you redeem them for Southwest flights, you’ll also be able to take a companion with you on every one.

Once you earn the Companion Pass®, it’s good through the end of the following year. So if you earn it in November 2022, it’ll be good through December 2023, which is 13 months. But if you earn it in March 2022, it’ll be good through December 2023, which is 21 months. It’s wise to earn the Companion Pass® as early as possible in the calendar year.

How to Qualify for Southwest Credit Card Offers

All Southwest credit card offers are designed for people with good credit scores – somewhere around a FICO Score 8 of 700. But keep in mind that credit card issuers base approvals on more than just your scores, so there’s no magic number to aim for.

Not sure if you’d qualify? The first step is to check your credit scores and reports. Then, since Chase issues the Southwest cards, hop onto the bank’s website to see if you have any pre-qualified offers available.

While you could still get approved without a pre-qualified offer, it’s important to first make sure your credit scores are in the right range. (That’s because every credit card application dings your scores a little bit.)

Chase is notorious for its “5/24 rule.” If you’ve been approved for five credit cards in the past 24 months, it’ll deny your application – no matter how good your credit is. So keep careful track of how many cards you’ve opened. If two Southwest cards will put you over the limit, wait until you’ve surpassed that 24-month mark.

How to Choose the Southwest Credit Card Offer for You

Deciding which Southwest credit card offer is right for you is a personal decision.

You’ll need to assess the annual fees, perks and intro bonuses to see which one makes the most sense.

However, for most users, we’d recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card from above. Here’s why:

  • Its annual fee is offset by the $75 statement credit for Southwest flights. If you take that into account, its annual fee is only $5 more than the Plus card’s $69.
  • It comes with four upgraded boarding passes, 25% back on in-flight purchases and a 7,500-point account anniversary bonus. (That’s at least $75 in value, more than double the Plus card.)
  • For big spenders, it also offers additional perks. For every $10,000 you spend, you’ll earn 1,500 TQPs toward preferred status.

If none of the Southwest credit cards feel right, consider whether a different airline card might be a better fit for your travel habits. Or check out other credit cards on the market.

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