Southwest Airlines has plenty of things to like about it. They have an extensive route network across the United States, an easy to understand pricing model, no cancellation or change fees and they let passengers bring two checked bags for no charge. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is just as easy to understand with each point earned worth a set value, which can be used to “purchase” any available ticket.
That’s why travelers voted Southwest Rapid Rewards “Program of the Year” at the 2020 Freddie Awards and gave Southwest the awards for best redemption ability and best customer service. Rapid Rewards isn’t fancy and their simple business model has made it easy for them to conform to the new COVID-19 world.
What I don’t think fans of Southwest realize is that if you want to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points, the Rapid Rewards co-brand credit cards are not the best ones to use for everyday spending.
First, let’s look at the Chase Southwest Co-Brand credit cards:
Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
Southwest has four different co-brand cards by Chase open to new applicants.
While each card has different annual fees and perks, the earning structure of all the personal cards is the same.
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Southwest Performance Business card offers better bonuses for specific categories.
- Earn 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
- Earn 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
- Earn 1x points on all other purchases
While some of these cards, like the Priority and the Performance Business, have perks that can make sense to hold them for the long term, none of them would be a card I’d put any spending on.
That’s because I can earn more points for almost every purchase with Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase has the exclusive right to issue Southwest co-brand credit cards. It’s not shocking that Chase is also the only bank that can transfer points from its program into Southwest Rapid Rewards.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred (which has a $95 annual fee) has this point-earning structure.
- 2X points on travel – on anything from airfare and hotels to taxis and trains. It also earns 2x points on dining worldwide (as long as the establishment is coded as dining).
As a reminder, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
If you have a business and can get the Chase Ink Preferred (which also has a $95 annual fee), you can earn 3x points for these categories:
- Shipping Purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
Other Chase cards also earn more points than the Southwest co-brand cards. These no-annual-fee cards earn cashback, but if you have one of the cards above, it’s possible to transfer the points earned with them to Southwest.
Chase Ink Cash earns 5% cash back at:
- office supply stores (in-person and online)
- internet, cable and phone services
Chase Freedom Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited earns 1.5% back on all purchases.
Chase Freedom earns 1% back on all purchases and 5% back on a rotating category every quarter.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is well-liked by a large group of people. Many of them use a Southwest co-brand credit card for all of their expenses to earn extra points for travel.
All I want those people to know is that if you just used a different Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards instead of Rapid Rewards, you’d be earning more points when spending the same amount of money. Transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest is easy and happens almost instantly. You’re also able to move Ultimate Rewards to other loyalty programs or use them for booking travel through the Chase portal.
With increased earning and more flexibility, I can’t see any reason to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa cards for everyday spending when you could be earning Ultimate Rewards points instead.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary