Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review: Southwest's most affordable Rapid Rewards® card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Limited time offer: Earn 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
- Southwest rewards your loyalty with 3,000 bonus points each year on your account anniversary.
- Earn two points on your Southwest purchases as well as on local transit and commuting (rideshares included), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming. Earn one point per $1 on everything else.
- Southwest's market is expanding, but it's limited to mostly domestic locations. If you travel frequently overseas, you may not fly Southwest often enough to offset the AnnualFees annual fee.
If you are a frequent Southwest Airlines traveler, it might be time to make some space in your wallet for a Southwest credit card. Southwest credit cards reward you for every purchase you make, and you can use those rewards for Southwest flights, hotel bookings, car rentals and more.
The CardName is the entry level credit card in the Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit card family. At AnnualFees it carries the lowest annual fee of the bunch, but still offers many of the same great benefits that come with other Rapid Rewards® credit cards (compared below).
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus cardholders earn two points per $1 on Southwest purchases; local transit and commuting (including rideshares); and on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming. You earn one point per $1 on other eligible purchases.
Additionally, for a limited time new cardholders can earn 75,000 points when you spend $3,000 total in the first three months. This is a nice bonus, and all those bonus points count toward earning a Companion Pass for the next couple of years (more below). Another great benefit is that you'll be rewarded annually with 3,000 anniversary points, which is a nice incentive to maintain card membership.
Rapid Rewards points don't expire and can be used on a variety of travel-related purchases such as Southwest flights, hotel stays at eligible chains like Best Western, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt, and car rentals. They can also be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and access to exclusive events. Plus, enjoy no blackout dates or seat restrictions when booking a flight. As long as a seat is available, it's yours to book.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
- Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable travel rewards perks available today. Once earned, it allows you the option to select one companion to fly with you on any Southwest flight, for just the cost of taxes and fees. Essentially, it gets you two-for-one plane tickets. No wonder it's one of the most sought-after travel rewards there is.
To be eligible for the Companion Pass& you need to fly 100 one-way Southwest flights or earn at least 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year (that number jumps to 135,000 points in a year after Jan. 1, 2023). Once you do, you'll maintain Companion Pass status for the remainder of the year plus the entire following year, which means it makes sense to earn it as early as possible in a calendar year in order to maximize the months you have it. Plan your spending so that you earn the full welcome bonus in January to truly maximize this fantastic offer. You can learn more in our "Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass."
Since most everyday travelers likely aren't flying 100 Southwest flights a year, for many people, the most realistic way to obtain a Companion Pass is by earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points (135,000 after Jan. 1, 2023). Thanks to the CardName's welcome bonus you could be more than halfway there just within months of opening an account.
Additionally, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, Southwest will award a boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points to individuals who have an open Rapid Rewards credit card on the first business day of each calendar year. That means that even though the bar to earn a Companion Pass is rising by 10,000 points, cardholders will effectively only have to truly earn 125,000 points.
Southwest Airlines is already great in that it offers two free checked bags to every passenger, but with the CardName the travel benefits go even further. When using your Plus card to pay for trip expenses you'll have access to auto rental collision coverage, roadside dispatch coverage, lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance.
We all hope to never have to worry about these types of things when traveling, but it's good to know you're covered in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, baggage delays happen all the time, leaving travelers inconvenienced, and without potential essentials. The baggage delay insurance reimburses you in the event that you have to purchase vital items because your baggage is delayed for more than six hours. You could qualify for up to $100 per day for up to three days, and if your bag is lost or damaged, you could enjoy coverage of up to $3,000.
Another commonly utilized benefit is the auto rental collision coverage, which covers your vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad (in the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance). This perk has the potential to knock hundreds off your car rental total.
Also, if you experience an emergency while traveling, you can call up a benefits administrator and receive free referrals for legal, medical, and transportation service providers. It's always a reassuring feeling to know that you are taken care of when you are away from home.
In addition to these travel benefits, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus offers purchase protection, which covers any item purchased with the card in the event of damage or theft. You can also take advantage of extended warranty protection and extend the original manufacturer's warranty by one year on eligible purchases you've made with the card. The limit is $10,000 per claim, and a maximum of $50,000 per account.
One potential downside of the CardName is that it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. At first glance, this fee may seem like no big deal; however, it can add up significantly over time, especially if you are someone who travels abroad often.
For example, let's say you were in Berlin for a few weeks and put $4,000 worth of purchases on your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus card. You'd be on the hook for an extra $120 in fees. Therefore, if you're an avid international traveler but still want to carry a Southwest credit card, you may want to consider the CardName or the CardName as they do not charge a fee on foreign transactions.
Another potential downside isn't specific to the card itself, but is more generally a drawback of Southwest Airlines. Compared to other major airlines, Southwest is a bit limited in where they fly and to which airports they serve; especially for international flights (though this market continues to expand). Take United Airlines for example, which operates more than 21,000 flights per day in more than 190 countries. Southwest on the other hand offers about 4,000 daily flights to around 100 destinations.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier
Though the CardName charges a higher annual fee than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card (AnnualFees vs. AnnualFees), it offers 6,000 anniversary points, which is double the points you'd get with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card.
In addition, the Premier card does not charge foreign transaction fees and gives cardholders the chance to earn up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year. These points can be used toward Southwest A-List status and redeemed for priority boarding and bonus reward points for flights. The new cardholder welcome bonus offers are the same, as are the travel benefits and extended warranty perks, but Premier cardholders earn an extra point per $1 spent with Southwest (three points vs. two points with the Plus card); the other rewards earning is the same.
So, if you don't mind paying an extra $30 per year to get more anniversary points and the freedom to spend money abroad without any extra charges, you are likely better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card. The Premier card may also make more sense for someone who is confident they'll spend a lot on the card and be eligible for A-List status.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority
The CardName is the most expensive Southwest Rapid Rewards® consumer card, charging an annual fee of AnnualFees, but this extra cost includes a number of valuable travel perks that could make the annual fee worth it for many frequent Southwest travels.
Like the Plus, this card offers new cardholders a limited time bonus of 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The rewards structures are the same except that Priority cardholders earn three points per $1 on Southwest purchases vs. the two points per $1 on those purchases that Plus cardholders earn. Both cards offer 25% back on in-flight purchases like Wi-Fi and beverages.
With the Priority card, however, you can also look forward to a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 7,500 anniversary points, four upgraded boardings per year and no foreign transaction fees. Additionally, get up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year with your card, helping get you to A-list status faster which will earn you priority boarding, priority check-in and security lane access, 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned on each flight, and free same-day standby.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
For an annual fee of AnnualFees, the CardName offers new cardholders 60,000 bonus points once spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, worth $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
A major benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is that it earns cardholders 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases. Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus card, the base earning on purchases outside the bonus categories is one point, but because Sapphire Preferred® points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel, those "other" purchases could be worth as much as 1.25 points (or more thanks to the ability to transfer them to a number of travel loyalty programs). In addition, the Preferred® Card doesn't charge a fee on foreign transactions, and has over 10 travel partners, one of which happens to be Southwest, offering you even more flexibility in how you redeem your rewards.
Those who wish to earn more points for everyday spending, travel abroad often, and want more redemption options are likely better off with the Preferred® card. Please note though that you if you're working towards Southwest Companion Pass status, transferred points do not count towards the earned-point threshold.
Just like all credit cards, the CardName offers its own set of benefits. It's a great option for anyone who likes to travel frequently on Southwest Airlines and wants to earn free flights while paying a low annual fee.
People who travel abroad frequently, wish to earn bonus rewards on every day spending, or who prefer other airlines to Southwest might want to consider an alternative option.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Compared to Other Travel rewards Cards
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