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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is one of several co-branded credit cards that make it easy for consumers to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points that they can put toward complimentary flights, hotel stays, car rentals, vacation packages and other travel-related activities.
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, you can earn bonus points on several spending categories, have peace of mind with included travel insurance and enjoy perks like EarlyBird check-in and DoorDash DashPass, all for a low annual fee.
Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card to help you decide if it’s right for your needs.
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Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer fee
5%, minimum $5
Foreign transaction fees
- Modest annual fee
- Generous welcome bonus can be used toward Southwest Companion Pass
- 2 Early Bird Check-In® each year
- 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
- No introductory 0% APR period
The welcome bonus for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is currently 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 within the first three months of your account opening, which is a pretty reasonable spending threshold to hit.
Keep in mind that this bonus isn’t available to everyone. You must not currently have a personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and you must not have received a welcome bonus within the last 24 months. However, this stipulation doesn’t apply to Southwest business credit cards.
Even at a modest 1 cent per point value, the welcome bonus is worth $400, which represents a 40% return on spending once you hit the $1,000 threshold mark, and is a great value if you’re just getting started as a new cardmember. While you shouldn’t sign up for a new credit card just for the welcome bonus, many travel rewards cards, including the Southwest Plus Credit Card, also come with great perks that can be used to improve your overall travel experience.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers cardholders access to the following benefits:
- 3,000 bonus points for each account anniversary
- Two EarlyBird check-ins per year
- 25% back on in-flight purchases
- No foreign transaction fees when you use the card abroad
- All points earned with the card count toward the highly-coveted Southwest Companion Pass®, which allows one person to fly with you for free (except for taxes and fees) when you buy or redeem points for flights after reaching the threshold of 125,000 qualifying points or 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year
Earning miles for spending
When you spend on the card, you will earn:
- 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases with Southwest Airlines
- 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare services
- 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services
- 1X Rapid Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases
You’ll get to enjoy several benefits just by choosing to fly with Southwest Airlines, however you don’t need to have a Southwest credit card to receive these three perks:
- Two free checked bags per person
- No change fees
- Rapid Rewards Points that never expire
By being a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card holder, you’ll also receive these additional benefits (which are also available on many other Chase credit cards):
- Complimentary travel accident insurance and emergency assistance, reimbursement for lost luggage, auto rental collision damage waivers for car rentals, roadside dispatch service, purchase and extended warranty protection and baggage delay insurance
- DoorDash benefits, including $0 delivery fees on restaurant orders above $12 (or groceries over $25), reduced service fees and $10 off your next order when you use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card after you activate your complimentary year of membership by Dec. 31, 2024.
Select calculated how many points the average American can earn in a year when using their Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). Here’s what the average consumer would earn using this card:
- Groceries: 5,174 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Gas: 2,218 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Dining out: 3,675 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Travel: 4,488 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (Assuming all travel dollars are spent with Southwest Airlines).
- Utilities: 4,862 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- General purchases: 3,953 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
With all spending considered, this would give a cardholder 24,370 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in the first year, and if you include the 40,000-point welcome bonus, this would yield 64,370 Rapid Rewards points. Over a five year period, cardholders could potentially earn 161,850 Southwest Rapid Rewards points — although the total amount will depend on an individual’s annual spending habits.
Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points
Rapid Rewards points are a solid currency to earn as Southwest Airlines continues to be one of the leading U.S.-based carriers when it comes to customer service. The airline also allows each person to have two free checked bags, making travel much more affordable since you can avoid paying extra fees to check your luggage.
While there are several ways to earn Rapid Rewards points, the two easiest ways to earn heaps of them in a hurry are by:
- Holding multiple Southwest credit cards (a personal credit card and a business credit card, for example) and earning the welcome bonuses for each one.
- Using a credit card with transferable rewards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which would allow you to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which could be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
If you’re thinking of adding a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card to your wallet but aren’t sure if the Southwest Plus card is right for you, consider another one of the airline’s co-branded personal or business credit cards:
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points
After earning enough Southwest Rapid Rewards points you can redeem them for a flight. Keep in mind that you will still need to pay taxes on the flight you’re redeeming points for, which ends up being $5.60 each way for a one-way flight within the United States (taxes and fees for international flights may vary).
The best part about Southwest Rapid Rewards points is how easy it is to redeem them. Simply log into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and begin searching for flights by clicking where it says “points” rather than “dollars”. From there, you will be able to view flights with redemption amounts and prices shown in points rather than cash. All you need to do from there is pick which flights work best for you and as long as you have enough points in your account, you will be able to purchase your ticket.
Southwest gives you the choice of three different fares: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select. Each option offers different benefits, including whether or not you’ll get priority boarding and how many points you’ll earn per flight. One downside is you won’t be able to choose your seat on Southwest flights since each is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Select analyzed two other travel credit cards to see how they match up against the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card vs. Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
The card comes with some great benefits for frequent Delta flyers, including no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), 20% back on in-flight purchases, rental car insurance and purchase protection, while letting cardholders earn 2X points for every dollar spent on dining at restaurants and Delta purchases, as well as 1X points spent everywhere else.
If you’re considering both cards, it really comes down to how often you fly with each airline. Earning Delta SkyMiles can also be beneficial for travelers who fly internationally since you can take advantage of its airline alliance partners through SkyTeam. Your decision may also come down to which airline offers better routes from your home airport. Terms apply.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus vs. United Gateway℠ Card
The United Gateway℠ Card is a no annual fee credit card that lets cardholders earn United MileagePlus miles which are redeemable for flights with the airline and its partners.
The card comes with a few benefits, including flexible spending categories and no foreign transaction fees.
Should your travel plans go awry, the card comes with a complimentary travel cancellation and interruption policy that allows you to be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for any pre-paid, non-refundable passenger fares paid for with the card.
If you’re torn between the two cards, consider what your personal travel priorities are. If you plan on traveling within the United States primarily, the Southwest Plus card may be the better option. However, if you enjoy traveling abroad, the United Airlines card might be the way to go since the carrier and its Star Alliance partners fly to many international destinations.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a great addition for someone who enjoys flying with Southwest Airlines and wants to keep their credit card annual fee low. Keep in mind that due to Chase’s 5/24 rule, you may not be approved for a new credit card if you’ve already been approved for five or more credit cards within the last 24 months.
For those looking to earn the highly-coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to bring a friend or family member along with you for free on any paid or redeemed Southwest flight (minus taxes and fees), this card could help get you on the path to earning one of the best deals in travel.
Additionally, cardholders who tend to spend within the different bonus categories regularly — for instance, by purchasing Southwest flights, utilizing local transit or paying for phone services — you’ll have plenty of chances to earn a large amount of Southwest Rewards points.
Note that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card does not earn tier qualifying points, which help you earn Southwest elite status, referred to as “A-list” or “A-list Preferred.” The two more Premium Southwest cards offer this feature.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card gives cardholders the opportunity to earn valuable Rapid Rewards points on their purchases without having to worry about paying a large annual fee. Thanks to a lucrative welcome offer paired with a low spending threshold, you can quickly snag more than 40,000 Southwest points in your account right off the bat, which can be put toward free (or mostly free) flights.
Before you sign up for the card, it’s best to know your credit score so you can evaluate your odds of approval. It’s also wise to double-check your budget and figure out if having a new credit card is the best choice for your current financial situation.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.