Chase has been attempting to lure infrequent flyers to its family of airline travel cards all year long with special bonus offers. Earlier in 2011, the credit card issuer offered 35,000 OnePass miles for new accounts in its Continental Airlines affinity program. The lender earned headlines for a record-breaking 100,000 mile offer with its British Airways Visa. Now, at the peak of the summer tourist season, brand managers hope that fans of discount travel will respond to an offer of a roundtrip flight after accepting a new Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card from Chase.
Southwest Airlines recently revamped its popular Rapid Rewards program and its fare structure based on three broad travel categories:
- Business Select: Primarily business travelers on strict timetables, accustomed to paying higher fares to match exact schedules.
- Anytime: Southwest's core clientele, who use the airline's exclusive website and call center to reserve discount airfares.
- Wanna Get Away: Adventurous and last-minute travelers ready to hop on deeply discounted flights.
Under this three-tier structure, prices rise along with flexibility. However, savvy travelers can maximize their rewards by hunting for off-peak flights on Southwest's website. While a Business Select trip will set you back 120 points per dollar of airfare, you can trade just 60 points per dollar on already cheaper "Wanna Get Away" tickets. Cheaper flights carry more restrictions, so plan carefully.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card offers new cardholders a signup bonus of 25,000 Rapid Rewards points after the first purchase on the card. Using sample fare examples from Southwest's website, that bonus offers more than enough points to redeem for one typical "anytime" fare. With the right planning, though, a new cardholder could convert the same reward into as many as four flights using "Wanna Get Away" specials.
Balance transfer bonus
If you're transferring a balance from an old credit card, you can earn up to more Rapid Reward points with a limited time balance transfer bonus. Under the terms of the deal, you'll pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee along with the prevailing interest rate on your account. Chase will credit your Southwest account with one Rapid Reward point for every dollar transferred. Regardless of whether you surf a balance from another card, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card will still earn you 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest and its travel partners, and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere.