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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.

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

Cardholders earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases. All non-bonus purchases earn 1x point per $1 spent.

New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

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
  • Earn 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • Earn 2x points on select advertising purchases, Internet, phone and cable services
  • 9,000 Rapid Rewards anniversary bonus

New Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card 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 get unlimited 3x points on travel (once you spend $300 on travel-related purchases) 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

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $900 toward 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. 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.

New Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, they can earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within the first year of account opening.

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 100,000 bonus miles after spending $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or earn 50,000 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 2x Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases and earn 1x point on everything else.

Similar to the two other consumer cards, new Southwest Premier cardholders can also earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Your annual card anniversary bonus is 6,000 points which can be enough to book one short-haul flight (perhaps to Hawaii?).

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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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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