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Best Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards of April 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Southwest Airlines branded credit cards may be a good choice for individuals who fly regularly with this airline. 

Discover all your options in the comprehensive review below, which answers questions such as:

  • What Southwest Airlines credit cards are available?
  • How can you earn points with Southwest Airlines credit cards?
  • How do you choose the right Southwest credit card?

Our top Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card picks

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Best for a Low-Annual-Fee Southwest Starter Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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Up to 2X Reward Rate

Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases and 2X points on purchases with Southwest hotel and rental car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting and internet, cable, and phone services, and 1X points on other purchases.

Annual Fee
$69
Welcome Offer
50,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
Although the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card isn’t the heaviest on benefits, it’s the lightest on an annual fee. This would be a perfect Southwest starter card for travelers who aren’t ready to commit to a higher-fee option but still want a card with a handful of valuable benefits and a hefty welcome offer. It’s easy to earn points on this card, with rewards on Southwest purchases and everyday purchases, along with 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points each year just for being a card member! Additionally, you can take advantage of a nice inflight discount and anniversary bonus points. If you’re willing to spend a bit more on an annual fee you might find a card with more perks, but for $69 a year, this card is still a decent option.

Best for Semi-Frequent Southwest Flyers

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Up to 3X Reward Rate

Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases and 2X points on purchases with Southwest hotel and rental car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting and internet, cable, and phone services, and 1X points on other purchases.

Annual Fee
$99
Welcome Offer
50,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a step up from the Plus, with a higher rewards rate on Southwest purchases and a larger anniversary bonus. It has similar rewards though, so the extra $30 per year may or may not be worth it. If you travel with Southwest frequently enough, the extra 1 point per dollar could add up quickly. Additionally, the 6,000 anniversary bonus points can get you that much closer to getting a Companion Pass. If you’re dedicated to Southwest as your primary airline, this could be a good option for a card to add to your wallet. Otherwise, you can get a general travel credit card for the same annual fee or less and may find it more beneficial.

Best for Southwest Loyalists

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

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Up to 3X Reward Rate

Earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, 2 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases, 2 points per dollar on local transit, internet, cable, and more, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Annual Fee
$149
Welcome Offer
50,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
Southwest’s highest-fee consumer card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers decently more value than other Southwest cards. The $75 Southwest travel credit each year can make up for over half the annual fee by itself. Then if you add the 4 upgraded boardings per year and a high-value anniversary bonus, its perks can easily make up for the $149 annual fee. On top of that, you can earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points (TQPs) for every $5,000 spent in purchases annually, boosting you toward elite status. You’ll also get 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points every year just for being a card member. If you’re a Southwest loyalist, look no further than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Best Southwest Card for Businesses Travelers

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

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Up to 4X Reward Rate

Earn 4X points on Southwest purchases and 3X points on purchases with Southwest hotel and rental car partners. Earn 2X points on rideshare and social media advertising, internet, cable, and phone services. Earn 1X points on other purchases.

Annual Fee
$199
Welcome Offer
80,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Good/Excellent (670 - 850)
Why we like it
The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card has the priciest annual fee of any Southwest card but also boasts a significant amount of value. The rewards rate is the highest of any Southwest card, with 4 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and decent rewards on other purchases. Plus, you’ll get 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points every year just for being a card member! On top of that, this card also comes with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, 4 upgraded boardings per year, a generous welcome offer, inflight wifi credits, and more. The dedicated business traveler could easily squeeze enough value out of this card to make the $199 annual fee worth it.

Best Southwest Business Card with a Low Annual Fee

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

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Up to 3X Reward Rate

Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases and 2X points on purchases with Southwest hotel and rental car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting (incl. rideshare), and 1X points on other purchases.

Annual Fee
$99
Welcome Offer
80,000 points
Regular APR
21.49% to 28.49% variable
Recommended Credit
Excellent (740 - 850)
Why we like it
The value of the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is close to the consumer version, with the same annual fee, a similar rewards rate, and almost identical perks. With this card, you can access perks like 3X points on Southwest purchases and 6,000 anniversary points each year. On top of that, you’ll get 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 spent, giving you a boost toward elite status. It’s not as benefit-heavy as the Performance Business card, but if your business doesn’t travel enough to justify a higher annual fee, this card may make a good addition to your wallet. If you’re not Southwest loyalists, other business credit cards may provide more in the way of travel benefits.

Compare Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Cards

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More details on Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card account holders can earn 2 points on every dollar they spend with Southwest. They also earn 2x points on hotel and car rental purchases made through the Rapid Rewards program, transit expenses — including rideshares — and cable, internet, phone and some streaming services. You earn 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

The card also comes with a welcome bonus. You can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s easy to do if you’re planning a trip; book your flights with the card and you’re probably covered. Cardholders also get 3,000 anniversary points each year.

On top of 2x points when you make purchases with Southwest, you’ll get 25% back on all inflight purchases made with this card. Because this is a travel rewards card, it also comes with a variety of flight-related perks.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has the same welcome bonus as the Plus card, and you can earn 2x points on the same categories except for Southwest purchases. When you use the Premier card for those purchases, you earn 3 points per dollar. You also get double the anniversary points, earning 6,000 each calendar year. The Premier card also has a few additional travel perks like travel protection through Chase and 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins each year.

Note: The information for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by LA Times Compare. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card includes everything the Premier card does, except you earn 7,500 anniversary points. The Priority card comes with even more travel perks, including four upgraded boardings each year and a $75 Southwest travel credit annually.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

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You can also get one of two Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards for business use. These are designed with rewards structures and perks more likely to benefit commercial account holders. 

With the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, you’ll get 9,000 anniversary points and 4 points for every dollar you spend with Southwest. Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental purchases earn 3 points per dollar, and you get 2x points on transit and rideshare expenses; internet, cable and phone services; and search engine and social media advertising purchases. You earn 1x points on other purchases.

Travel perks with this card include four upgraded boarding passes each year, up to a $100 credit to help cover TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fees, up to 365 Inflight Internet credits awarded each calendar year and $500 in fee credits to help cover points transfers. You can earn 80,000 bonus points on this card when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and can add employee cards at no additional cost to you.

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

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The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card largely matches its consumer-card counterpart, with 6,000 anniversary points each year. You also earn 3x points on Southwest purchases and 2x points on hotels and car rentals booked through the Rapid Rewards program and qualifying transit expenses. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

Some of the travel perks you get with this card include two EarlyBird Check-Ins, $500 in fee credits to help cover points transfers and a 25% inflight purchase discount. You can earn 80,000 bonus points on this card when you spend $5,000 in the first three months and can add employee cards at no additional cost to you.

Southwest credit card benefits

Each card has unique benefits and perks. Depending on which card you select, you can expect some of the benefits below.  

Anniversary points

Anniversary points are awarded each calendar year. You don’t have to do anything to qualify for these points other than keep your account open and in good standing. The points are added to your rewards balance sometime after your cardmember anniversary, which is the date you opened your account.

Annual travel credit

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with a $75 annual travel credit. You can use the credit to cover travel costs with Southwest.

Earn points towards A-list status

Both business credit cards and the Premier and Priority personal credit cards help you earn points toward an A-list status with Southwest. A-list status lets you access benefits such as priority boarding.

The two personal cards that offer this benefit provide 1,500 tier-qualifying bonus points after you spend $10,000 each year. The two Chase business cards provide the same benefit once you spend $5,000.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit

The Performance business credit card includes a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee. The other cards on this list don’t currently advertise this benefit.

Upgrade boarding positions

The Performance business credit card and the Priority personal credit card include a perk that lets you upgrade boardings four times each year for free. Note that you can only do this when the option to upgrade is available, so it isn’t a perk that works for every flight.

EarlyBird Check-In credits

The cards on this list that don’t offer upgraded boarding perks offer EarlyBird Check-In credits. It’s a value of $15 to $25 per flight and helps ensure you’re one of the first to board the plane.

25% discount on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi

All of the personal Rapid Rewards credit cards offer a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, including drinks and Wi-Fi. You get this discount in the form of 25% back on your statement. The Premier business card also offers this perk.

Path to getting a Companion Pass

Companion Pass is a Southwest perk that lets qualifying individuals choose a companion to fly with them at no additional airfare — but you do have to pay taxes and fees on the companion flight. To access this perk, you need 135,000 points earned in the year or 100 qualifying one-way flights.

The personal credit cards on this list offer 10,000 boost points toward the 135,000 points you need before Companion Pass is enabled.

Southwest credit card rewards

Each of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards has a slightly different rewards structure. However, Southwest loyalists and frequent flyers can earn substantial value with any of these cards.

Southwest welcome offer

The personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards on this list come with a welcome offer of 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

For travelers, the easiest way to earn that bonus may be to use the card to book travel with Southwest. That way, you get the bonus and maximize the points per dollar when you spend. If you aren’t traveling soon, you can probably easily meet the bonus requirements by using the card to fund your grocery expenses for the first three months.

The business cards require you to spend $5,000 in the first three months to earn 80,000 bonus points. Again, the best way to maximize your earnings is to earn the bonus by spending on flights. You can also use your card to cover normal business purchases for the first three months.

Earn Rapid Rewards points

The best way to earn points with any card on this list is to use it to make purchases with Southwest. 

Depending on which card you hold, you’ll earn 2 to 4 points per dollar on those purchases. Every card also provides other ways to earn 2 to 3 points per dollar, and for any purchases that don’t fall into a specific earnings category, you earn 1 point per dollar.

Redeem Rapid Rewards points

You can redeem Rapid Rewards points in a variety of ways. You’ll get the most value from points when you use them to book flights with Southwest Airlines. 

You can also use points to:

How to choose the best Southwest Airlines credit card

Consider your budget, rewards preferences, credit score and other factors when selecting the right Southwest Airlines card for you. 

Some factors to consider include:

1

Annual fee.

If you want to minimize your annual fee, the Plus card may be the best choice. However, always look at the value of the benefits you can definitely use with each card to see if they outweigh the annual fee.

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2

Travel needs.

Individuals who travel frequently and can maximize rewards value may want to opt for the Priority card.

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3

Spending habits.

Look for a card that aligns rewards with your spending habits. For instance, a business that spends a lot on digital marketing might consider the Performance business card, as it lets you earn 2x points on search engine and social media marketing expenses.

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Apply for a Southwest Airlines credit card

You can apply for any of these airline credit cards online. 

You’ll need:

The cards on this list require at least good credit. Most applicants will know if they’re approved within minutes, but some applicants may go through a longer verification process that can take a few days or weeks.

You can learn more about each of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards through the links below and choose to apply if you think one would be a good fit!

Alternatives to Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards

If you’re not a frequent flyer or Southwest loyalist — or it doesn’t make sense to fly Southwest given your business or home location — the Rapid Rewards credit cards aren’t a great choice for you. If it makes more sense for you to fly with Delta or United, check out our reviews of Delta Air Lines credit cards and United Airlines credit cards.

As an alternative, you could consider these other rewards credit cards:

Note: The information for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by LA Times Compare. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

FAQ: Southwest credit card

Is a Southwest credit card worth it?

A Southwest Rapids Reward credit card can provide valuable rewards and travel perks for those who fly frequently with Southwest. If you don’t fly with the airline often, you are probably better off with a different travel rewards credit card.

Which Southwest credit card is best?

The best credit card for you depends on your spending habits and personal preferences. However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers the most travel perks and points-earning capability among the Rapid Rewards cards for individuals.

What credit score do I need to get a Southwest credit card?

Southwest credit cards require good or excellent credit. Individuals with FICO credit scores of 670 or higher are more likely to get approved for the cards than those with lower scores.

How much are Southwest Airlines points worth?

The value of Rapid Rewards depends on how you redeem them. The best value is achieved by redeeming the points with Southwest for flights. In this case, points are worth an average of 1.5 cents each.

How do you get a Companion Pass with a Southwest credit card?

The Companion Pass is achieved each year when you have 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 135,000 points. You can use a Southwest credit card to help you get the Companion Pass by earning points. The personal Rapid Rewards credit cards also provide 10,000 annual points toward Companion Pass status.

Do Southwest credit cards have foreign transaction fees?

Southwest credit cards do not have any foreign transaction fees, except for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Sarah Stasik
Sarah Stasik Personal Finance

Sarah Stasik is well versed in personal finance thanks to her previous role as a Revenue Cycle Manager for a Fortune 500 healthcare company. Using her inside knowledge and expertise, Sarah often covers topics ranging from insurance and the economics of private healthcare to personal finance and small business management.

Over the past 12 years, Sarah has contributed to numerous publications in the personal and small business finance sector, including content on budgeting, bankruptcy, small business accounting, and financial tech. Her writing focuses on making complex or seemingly daunting financial topics more accessible and providing helpful, relevant resources for readers.

* Opinions expressed here are those of the LA Times Compare Cards Team and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser or entities included within this content. See our editorial policy for more details.

All products or services are presented in this content without warranty. The information, including card details such as rates and fees, is accurate at the time of publish. Please visit each bank's website directly for the most current information.

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