Chances are, if you and I talk with any regularity, I’ve tried to convince you to apply for a Southwest credit card. My friends hear it all the time, but even random strangers have been subjected to my airline credit card monologue. Sorry not sorry. 😉 With all this talk, I get a lot of questions about my experience. Today, I am breaking down everything you need to know about Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards.
What I Use
First, let’s get some specifics out of the way. Daily, I use 2 Southwest cards: the Premier Business card and the Priority Card. Business card is for my business expenses. Priority card is for personal expenses. Each card earns points that all go into my one Rapid Rewards account.
Cards Southwest Offers
As of right now, Southwest offers 4 different cards: Plus, Premier, Priority, and Premier Business. Just like everything else in life, each one has its pros and cons; the key is choosing the best card for you.
For all of their cards you earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Each card also has an anniversary point bonus + an annual fee. This is where we get to do a little math…
The breakdown goes like this:
- Plus: 3k anniversary points. $69 annual fee.
- Premier: 6k anniversary points. $99 annual fee.
- Priority: 7,500 anniversary points + a $75 travel credit + 4 upgraded boardings a year. $149 annual fee.
- Premier Business: 6k anniversary points. $99 annual fee.
Note: The premier cards + the priority card have no foreign transaction fees.
What is one point worth?
Obviously, the first thing we need to determine is how much these points are worth. Southwest operates on a dynamic points redemption system, which just means the monetary value of a point fluctuates slightly based on the price of the flights you book. For cheaper flights, your points are worth more. For more expensive flights, points are worth less. That being said, the average value of a point is about 1.6 cents. Just in anniversary points, that gives us…
Roughly $48 in travel for the Plus card,
$96 in travel for the Premier cards,
and $120 in travel for the Priority card (+ a $75 credit).
As you can see, the annual fee gets almost entirely offset by the anniversary points. (and completely offset and then some on the Priority card!) And that’s not counting a sign up bonus or the points you get from using your card all year long.
Choosing which card is best for you
The biggest thing to consider when choosing a card is how much you travel with Southwest.
If you plan on taking one trip with the bonus points and cancelling your account or flying less than 3 times a year, the Plus card will likely be your best bet.
If you fly with them 3-4 times a year, the Premier card would be a great fit.
If you are like me, and fly with Southwest 4+ times a year, I would go for the Priority card.
If you are a business owner, you are eligible to apply for the Premier Business card. This might be a good bet if you fly with them 3-4 times a year. You are also eligible to have 2 cards: personal and business. Each card will earn points towards your one Rapid Rewards account.
Sign Up Bonuses
Nearly every airline card offers a bonus for signing up. Usually they look something like this: earn X thousand points when you spend X thousand dollars in X amount of months. The amounts go up and down as each airline runs different promos, but the format is almost always the same.
The standard promos for Southwest are 40k bonus points for personal cards and 60k for the business card. That’s not to say they won’t offer different deals: I’ve seen promos for 60k bonus points on all cards or 30k points + a companion pass, but these are more rare.
My favorite kind of math to do is that which earns me free flights, so I couldn’t resist calculating the bonuses for you…
- 40k points = roughly $640 in travel
- 60k points = roughly $960 in travel
- 30k points + companion pass = roughly $480 in travel + one lucky friend to travel with you for free all year
Redeeming your points
If you apply during a promotion, your points will show up in your account as soon as you hit that minimum spend. Monthly, points will show up, based on what you spend, at the same time that your statement posts. Southwest prides themselves for having no blackout dates, so redeeming your points is as easy as booking a flight. Points don’t expire as long as you have your account open, but don’t forget about the annual fee. You are free to use your points however you want: you can share them with friends or keep them all to yourself!
Speaking of friends, one of the most sought after credit card benefits is the Southwest Companion Pass. If you earn it, you get to pick one lucky friend to fly with you for free for the rest of the year + all of the next year. While it is difficult to get (unless they are running a promo), the points you get from your bonus apply towards the 110,000 you need, which certainly makes it easier. Once you do have it, traveling with your partner or best friend gets a whole lot easier! And y’all know I’m all about making travel easy!
That wraps up my monologue, friends! Now do you pity those poor strangers who had no idea what they were getting into when they brought up flying with Southwest!? 😉
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