Banks don’t make it easy to select co-branded airline cards for frequent flyers. Not only do you have multiple airlines, but you also have multiple credit cards associated with the same airline, and it gets confusing, to say the least.

Southwest Airlines, in partnership with Chase, offers five co-branded cards to its flyers: three personal cards and two business cards. No wonder it’s hard to pick the best one, but we’re here to help.

Personal Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards’ Perks and Benefits

Chase issues three consumer Southwest-branded credit cards. In terms of earning Rapid Rewards points on everyday spend, they’re the same. However, in terms of benefits, you’ll notice quite a difference. So, let’s help you decide which card is right for you.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Welcome Offer

40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Earning Rates

2X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent with Southwest Airlines, at participating hotels and car rental partners

1X Rapid Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

2X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent with Southwest Airlines, at participating hotels and car rental partners

1X Rapid Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

2X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent with Southwest Airlines, at participating hotels and car rental partners

1X Rapid Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

Anniversary Points

3,000

6,000

7,500

Upgraded Boarding Positions per Year

4

Southwest Annual Travel Credit

$75

Statement Credits on In-Flight Purchases

20%

Tier Qualifying Points Toward A-List Status

1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases (on up to $100,000 per year)

1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases (on up to $100,000 per year)

Foreign Transaction Fees

3%

Annual Fee

$69

$99

$149

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the simplest of the bunch. It awards 3,000 Rapid Rewards points (worth about $40 based on average value) every year you renew the card and pay the annual fee of $69. Aside from the anniversary points, the card doesn’t offer many other perks, and it charges 3% foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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Because you don’t pay for bags when you fly with Southwest Airlines, the card doesn’t offer to waive luggage costs as many other airline credit cards do.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

For those seeking a little more than a few thousand anniversary points out of an airline card and willing to pay $99 per year, consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

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The annual reward on this card increases to 6,000 Rapid Rewards points (worth about $78), and foreign transaction fees are waived.

Additionally, the card gives you an opportunity to earn tier qualifying points (TPQs) toward A-List Status. For every $10,000 you spend on the card annually, you receive 1,500 TPQs toward status with Southwest. Keep earning until you collect the maximum of 15,000 TPQs per year (on up to $100,000 spent).

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

For frequent Southwest flyers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card might be the best option.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

LEARN MORE 

As already mentioned, the earning rates on this premium credit card are the same as you get with the entry-level Southwest Plus card. However, the perks are where this card shines.

For starters, the anniversary bonus you earn by renewing the Southwest Priority card goes up to 7,500 Rapid Rewards points (worth about $100).

Next up is a $75 Southwest credit good for flights (but not for in-flight purchases or EarlyBird Check-In). Just by using this benefit of the card, you can erase $75 off your annual fee.

Speaking of EarlyBird Check-In, the Southwest Priority card offers four upgraded boardings, which gives you a high chance of a favorable boarding position in the A1-A15 group (if available on the day of travel). Southwest doesn’t assign seats, and those early boarding positions give you the pick of the litter on the plane.

If you do choose to buy an in-flight meal or pay for on-board Wi-Fi with the Southwest Priority card, you’ll receive 20% back to your card in the form of a statement credit.

And if you’re gunning for A-List status, you’ll receive 1,500 TPQs for every $10,000 spent on purchases with the card (on the first $100,000 spent per year).

The Southwest Priority card‘s annual fee is $149, but it’s not difficult to extract enough value from the card. When you think about it, $100 in anniversary points and the annual $75 credit toward a flight more than offset the annual fee. On top of that, the upgraded boardings are worth between $120 and $200 per year. No matter what, you come out ahead, and the rest of the perks are a bonus.

Business Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards’ Perks and Benefits

As is the case with consumer cards, Chase is giving small-business owners options when it comes to Southwest-branded credit cards. Let’s look at how the two offerings stack up against each other.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards®Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Welcome Offer

60,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

70,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months

An additional 30,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $25,000 in the first 6 months

Earning Rates

2X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent with Southwest Airlines

1X Rapid Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

3X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent with Southwest Airlines

2X Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services

1X Rapid Rewards point per $1 on all other purchases

Anniversary Points

6,000

9,000

Upgraded Boarding Positions per Year

4

In-Flight Wi-Fi Credits

365 x $8 credits

TSA Precheck / Global Entry Enrollment Fee Credit

Once every 4 years

Tier Qualifying Points Toward A-List Status

1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases (on up to $100,000 per year)

1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases (on up to $100,000 per year)

Foreign Transaction Fees

Annual Fee

$99

$199

Southwest Rapid Rewards®Premier Business Credit Card

As a small-business owner who flies with Southwest, you might be interested in signing up for a card for your business. The Southwest Premier Business Card is comparable to the personal Southwest Premier Card. In fact, once you take a closer look, you’ll realize that it’s the exact same card with the exact same benefits.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

LEARN MORE 

It’s got the same 6,000 anniversary points you receive every year at card renewal. It awards the same 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend on the card per year. And it charges the same annual fee of $99.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

The Southwest Performance Business Card, on the other hand, is a powerhouse when it comes to co-branded airline cards for small businesses.

First of all, the anniversary points offering is the highest across all Southwest-branded cards, personal or business—you’ll earn 9,000 Rapid Rewards points annually after you renew your card for another year. These points are worth about $117.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.

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You’ll also have four opportunities to upgrade your boarding position to A1-A15 when available.

Additionally, you get 365 Wi-Fi credits worth $8 each, allowing you to work on the plane every time you fly with Southwest, and a TSA Precheck / Global Entry application fee credit issued in the form of a statement credit once every four years.

As far as airline cards go, the Southwest Performance Business Card is a solid choice.

The card does come with an annual fee of $199, but as is the case with the personal Southwest Priority Card, it’s not hard to offset the card’s annual cost.

For starters, as mentioned above, the anniversary points worth about $117 will take care of more than half of that cost. Four upgraded boardings will give back up to $200 in value, and the in-flight Wi-Fi credits are worth $8 every time you use one.

Take a look at how much flying with Southwest you do during a regular non-pandemic year, and the Southwest Performance Business Card might make more sense for your business.

Which Southwest Credit Card Is Best for You?

The Southwest Plus Card would do just fine for casual Southwest flyers who travel domestically and balk at annual fees.

Semi-frequent flyers will find the Southwest Premier Card more compelling. Its anniversary bonus comes close to offsetting the annual fee, and the absence of foreign transaction fees makes it a better choice for international travelers.

Those who are committed to the airline and especially Companion Pass holders who can stomach a higher annual fee would benefit the most from having the Southwest Priority Card. As long as you make use of all the card’s perks, you might be surprised how easy it is to erase the higher annual fee.

The same logic applies to small-business owners who are deciding between two Southwest cards—the Southwest Performance Business Card offers a lot more in terms of benefits and is easier to justify paying the annual fee for than the mid-grade Southwest Premier Business Card with mediocre benefits.

Reasons Why Southwest Credit Cards Might Not Be for You

Southwest credit cards might sound appealing if you’re looking to score free flights, but they’re not going to benefit everybody equally.

For example, if Southwest doesn’t serve your preferred airport, you’re going to have a hard time redeeming Rapid Rewards to book award flights.

Same goes for places you wish to visit. Southwest’s network doesn’t offer many diverse destinations—the airline mostly flies within the United States, to Mexico and to select Caribbean islands. If your goal is to travel mostly internationally, Southwest isn’t the right choice for you.

In this case, a card with flexible points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or an American Express® Gold Card, will be a better fit.

Southwest Credit Card Bonus Restrictions

It’s important to note that Chase’s credit-card approval and bonus qualification rules are on the strict side, especially when it comes to Southwest cards.

Keep in mind that you’re eligible to hold only one personal Southwest credit card at a time. Furthermore, it’s impossible to earn welcome points unless it’s been at least 24 months since you received the last bonus on any consumer Southwest card.

However, you have the option to open one consumer and one business Southwest card. Many people use this method to qualify for the Companion Pass—Southwest’s version of Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass. A Companion Pass lets you and a designated companion fly for the price of one ticket (plus taxes) for as long as the benefit is active.

And because these are Chase cards, don’t ignore the Chase 5/24 rule. You won’t qualify for new Chase cards if you’ve opened five or more new credit cards in the last 24 months.

How to Earn Southwest Companion Pass Without Flying

To qualify for the Companion Pass perk, you must either fly 100 one-way flight segments on Southwest Airlines or earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.

To make things a little easier, rewards earned from credit cards count toward earning the pass. This means that it’s possible to earn a large chunk of Rapid Rewards points toward the benefit when welcome offers are high. Most people achieve this by opening one business card and one personal card early in the year and adding some spend to earn the rest of the points.

For more information on the Southwest Companion Pass and how to earn it, go to Southwest Companion Pass: What You Need to Know for 2021.

Final Thoughts

If you live in one of Southwest Airlines’ focus cities and fly the airline, you might want to look into applying for a Southwest-branded card or two. Depending on the benefits you’re looking for, Chase offers a few different card choices, but the ones with the highest fees offer the most peks. In most cases, you’ll be able to get more value out of the cards than what you pay for the privilege to use them. 

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