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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 Credit Card

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

Additionally, get 25% back on inflight purchases.

Cardholders earn unlimited:

  • 3x points on Southwest® purchases
  • 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
  • 2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases

New cardholders can earn the best Southwest points offer ever! New cardholders can earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

This is the best credit card for frequent Southwest flyers. If you’re unfamiliar with this pass, you only pay fees and taxes for one travel companion’s seat when you fly with them.

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
  • 9,000 Rapid Rewards anniversary bonus

The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card earns:

  • 4x points on Southwest® purchases
  • 3x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners
  • 2x points on rideshares
  • 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1x points on all other purchases

Cardholders also get unlimited tier qualifying points (TQPs) that can be earned toward A-List status. There is also a $500 annual fee credit for Rapid Rewards points transfers.

New cardmembers can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

An indirect way to earn Rapid Rewards points on every purchase is with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You earn 5x total points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

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

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $750 towards travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 

This card’s annual fee is $550. Frequent flyers can easily cover this fee by using the card benefits and booking award flights regularly.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. This Sapphire card only has a $95 annual fee.

Also, enjoy new Chase Sapphire benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on dining, and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

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.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently has an offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

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. 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. There is a $95 annual fee but you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees.

New Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can earn 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Learn more: Travel Rewards Credit Cards

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. Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.

You also earn unlimited:

  • 3x points on Southwest® purchases
  • 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
  • 2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases

All points earned count towards the Companion Pass®.

Additionally, get 25% back on inflight purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card cardholders also get 2 EarlyBird Check-In® abilities each year.

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 the best Southwest points offer ever! New cardholders can earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

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 Southwest Companion Pass® or enjoy other in-flight Southwest benefits.

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  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
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