Home Travel Credit Card Review: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Credit Card Review: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

by joeheg

Southwest Airlines offers three different co-branded personal credit cards with Chase. There’s the upper-end Priority card, the middle-child Premier card and the entry-level Plus card. Unlike other programs that offer a no-annual-fee option, the Southwest Plus Card isn’t free. Considering that co-brand cards for Southwest can’t provide the same perks as other airlines, like a free checked bag or earlier boarding group, what do you get for having the Southwest Plus Card?

If you decide that you want to sign up for the Southwest Plus card, or any of the Southwest credit cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our link. We receive Southwest points for each referral, which helps us keep Your Mileage May Vary HQ going strong.

Annual Fee

$69 Annual Fee

Sign Up Bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Plus card is 75,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Currently, Chase is offering the same bonus for all three personal cards until 7/11/22.

Note: Chase puts the following restrictions on applications to receive this bonus.

This product is available to you if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

This card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program as follows:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2 points per $1 spent on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

I have to be honest, I’m a bit unclear about which purchases for hotels and rental cars will earn two points. Is it through any company that partners with Southwest, or do you have to book through Southwest? The documentation on this benefit is very vague on which expenses will qualify.

Only earning 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases is disappointing because you can earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on Southwest airfare with the Sapphire Reserve and 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, so there’s no benefit on spending on the card for the bonus categories, even on Southwest purchases.

The Southwest cards added local transit and committing expenses and internet, cable, phone services and select streaming as 2x categories, making them slightly more appealing for everyday expenses.

Card Benefits

The Southwest Plus card has some benefits for keeping it past the first year. Unlike most airline co-brand cards that offer a free checked bag or priority seating, those benefits don’t mean anything with Southwest, so they offer something different.

  • 3,000-anniversary points each year. Valuing Southwest points at 1.3 cents each, that’s a $39 value. But that’s like buying Southwest points, and I hate to purchase points. What else?
  • Points earned with the card count towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass. Some people find ways to manufacture enough spending to receive a pass each year.

The Southwest Plus Card charges a 3% fee for foreign transactions. You can book a Southwest flight to Cabo but leave this card at home in favor of one with no foreign transaction fees.

Ways to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points

The points you earn with the sign-up bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. From there, you can use the points to book flights on Southwest. While Southwest used to say how much points were worth, they’ve done away with set values. Figure that you’ll get about 1.3 to 1.4 cents per point value.

How much you’ll pay for a ticket is directly related to how much that ticket costs. The nice thing is that you’ll never have a blackout date from redeeming points on Southwest. Prices might be high, but you’ll always be able to use points as long as there’s a cash ticket available.

Final Thoughts

If you think the Southwest Plus card is right for you, here’s our referral link

Full disclosure: I’ve had this card before. I kept it for a few years, but all I was doing was buying Southwest points for 1.65 cents each. Considering that all I could with those points was redeem them for 1.3 cents of value, I was losing money every year I kept the card. Eventually, I closed it.

If you’re an infrequent Southwest flyer and just want to get the sign-up bonus, and that’s all, the Southwest Plus card will do that. 75,000 points for $69 and $5,000 in spending isn’t a bad deal. However, if you buy at least four Southwest tickets a year and can use the Priority Boarding upgrades and $75 credit, the Priority card might be better to keep for the long term.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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