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There are plenty of reasons to fly Southwest Airlines. Free checked bags, no change fees, and even flights to Hawaii are three of best. If you consider yourself one of the many happy Southwest flyers, these credit cards will help you earn more Rapid Rewards points and enjoy other loyalty benefits.

best credit cards for Southwest flyers
What are some of the best credit cards for Southwest flyers? Credit: Pexels

If you like banking up your points for award flights, your best option will be one of the branded best Southwest credit cards. A second option is choosing one that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards you can transfer to your Rapid Rewards account. At the moment, Chase is Southwest’s only credit card transfer partner.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most luxurious of the branded Southwest Airlines credit cards. Since Southwest already waives the baggage fees, you might be wondering what this card offers instead. After all, one of the main reasons you have a legacy carrier’s airline credit card is to avoid baggage fees, right?

You get these Southwest Airlines benefits:

  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • 7,500 Rapid Rewards points card anniversary bonus
  • Earn 2x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines purchases (1x points on everything else)

This is the best credit card for frequent Southwest flyers.

Every purchase earns Rapid Rewards points which count toward the annual 110,000-point Companion Pass requirement. If you’re unfamiliar with this pass, you only pay fees and taxes for one travel companion’s seat when you fly with them through the next calendar year.

Right now, you can earn up to 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points. You’ll need to spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening to earn 40,000 points.

That can be nearly enough points to book one round-trip ticket to Hawaii. The signup bonus also counts toward the Companion Pass requirement.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Business-minded Southwest flyers will appreciate the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. These benefits can easily be worth the $199 annual fee:

  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • In-flight WiFi credits
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Earn 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • Earn 2x points on select advertising purchases, Internet, phone and cable services
  • 9,000 Rapid Rewards anniversary bonus

You can also earn 80,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points by spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Learn more: Business Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

An indirect way to earn Rapid Rewards points on every purchase is with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You get unlimited 3x points on travel and dining. All non-bonus purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1.

As you can only book Southwest flights directly from the Southwest Airlines website, you can’t use the Sapphire Reserve 50% travel redemption bonus for Southwest flights. Instead, you have to transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to Southwest.

Point transfers require an extra step. However, you can earn bonus points on any travel and dining purchase, not Southwest purchases alone. And you can also redeem your points on other airlines when Southwest doesn’t fly to your destination.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve perks also include these air travel benefits:

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select lounge access
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

The signup bonus is 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus is worth approximately $750 in award travel.

This card’s annual fee is $450. Frequent flyers can easily cover this fee by using the card benefits and booking award flights regularly.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. You earn 2 points per $1 on travel and dining. This Sapphire card only has a $95 annual fee.

You also get trip cancellation and interruption coverage up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. And you get primary car rental collision damage waiver protection up to the car’s actual cash value. Plus, like the Wells Fargo metal card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is also made of metal.

In early 2019, Chase increased the Sapphire Preferred’s sign-up bonus. You can now earn 60,000 points (previously 50,000 points) by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth $750 in award travel booked through Chase as each point is worth 1.25 cents each.

However, you can transfer them to Southwest where they can be worth more.

Comparison: Decide if you should get the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Southwest credit card first.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

A few non-Chase credit cards are a good fit for Southwest flyers too. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 2 miles per $1 on every purchase. Through January 2020, you also earn 10x points on Hotels.com/venture purchases.

You can redeem Capital One miles as a travel statement credit for travel purchases including Southwest flights. Every point is worth 1 cent each. There isn’t a minimum redemption amount.

This card also offers you Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit as well.

The signup bonus is 50,000 points (worth $500) by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. You also get an introductory $0 annual fee for the first year then $95 on your first card renewal.

Ink Business Preferred

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card is the only Chase Ink business credit card that lets you transfer points to Southwest Airlines. It also has a massive 80,000 bonus point signup bonus worth $1,000 in award travel. The bonus is yours after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

You earn 3x points on the first $150,000 in combined spending on travel, shipping purchases, online advertising, and Internet, phone or cable services. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1.

You can use your points by transferring them to your Rapid Rewards account. The 25% travel redemption bonus is available for non-Southwest Airlines award travel.

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card doesn’t offer travel credits or lounge access. However, you do get up to $5,000 in non-refundable travel purchase protection and primary rental car collision damage waiver. Also, the Ink Business Preferred has a reasonable $95 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Periodic Southwest flyers may appreciate the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

It focuses solely on earning Rapid Rewards points and doesn’t offer additional benefits like Upgraded Bookings. As a result, its annual fee is only $99 instead of the benefit-rich Priority Card’s $149 annual fee.

You earn 2x Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases and 1x points on everything else. Your annual card anniversary bonus is 6,000 points which can be enough to book one short-haul flight (perhaps to Hawaii?).

New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

Application Rules

There are a few Chase credit card application rules that may influence your choice. The Chase Sapphire, Ink Business, and co-brand Southwest credit cards fall under the so-called Chase 5/24 rule. In a nutshell, if you are the primary or authorized user of at least 5 credit cards opened in the last 24 months, Chase will most likely decline your application for having too many new accounts.

Southwest Credit Card Signup Bonus

In regards to the co-brand personal Southwest credit cards, you can only earn one bonus every 24 months. Plus, you must not currently own another personal Southwest credit card. There are three personal Southwest credit cards at the moment, so it will take you 6 years to earn all three bonuses under the current guidelines.

If you currently own a business or corporate Southwest credit card, those accounts do not disqualify you.

Summary

You will need to decide if you want to earn Rapid Rewards on every purchase or use a flexible travel rewards card where Southwest Airlines is one of many redemption options. Don’t forget that playing your cards right means you can qualify for the Companion Pass or enjoy other in-flight Southwest benefits.

Josh Patoka

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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