Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Card?

People often ask me, “What’s the first card I should sign up for?” I almost always recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards card, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards currently have a limited time offer, and I’ve had some friends and readers ask if they should go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Southwest credit card. It’s a tricky situation since Chase will most likely decline you for either credit card if you’ve applied for 5+ cards in the last 24 months, so choose wisely.

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Should you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Southwest Rapid Rewards card?

Should you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Southwest Rapid Rewards card?

So if you’re wondering which card makes the most sense for you, here’s my advice…

Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred if…

1) You like to travel internationally

I love to travel abroad. That’s where the real value is when we’re talking miles & points, especially when you’re redeeming points for international premium cabin flights. These flights can get up to the $10,000 mark! I don’t think I will ever be in a financial situation where I could pay that kind of coin for a plane ticket.

I’ve used Ultimate Rewards points earned from my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card towards premium cabin flights on Lufthansa (many times), Thai Air, and Singapore Airlines. It’s a little sexier than using my Southwest Rapid Rewards to fly to, say, San Diego. Even though I love San Diego, Las Vegas, and many other domestic destinations, buying those plane tickets with $$ is more feasible than paying for international travel.

Lufthansa A380 first class can be booked through United with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred also has a 0% foreign transaction fee, which makes it great for international travel. The Southwest “Premier” card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee, but the “Plus” has a 3% fee.

It’s worth noting that you can fly to some Mexico/Caribbean locations with Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

2) You want a solid daily card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is hands-down a better daily card. You receive 2x Ultimate Rewards points on dining and travel.

3) You don’t like boarding like a herd of cattle

I have a love/hate relationship with Southwest. I usually enjoy the customer service, but I dread the boarding process even when I’m in the A group. I’m usually traveling with a companion, so there’s always that awkward moment when I’m holding a seat, trying not to make eye contact with the people passing by. It’s a cluster.

What’s worse is when the departing plane already has passengers on it and they’ve taken all the good seats. How dare they! I’ve even paid for the privilege of boarding first (Early Bird), only to find the cabin already full of people when I boarded.

4) You want respect

This isn’t really an important point, but I remember the first time I pulled my Sapphire Preferred out of the envelope. I almost dropped it. This is a legit card that’s heavy and made out of real metal. Every time a friend or family member gets the Chase Sapphire Preferred, they always call me afterwards pumped about how cool it looks, and how every time they pay with it, the cashier is blown away by its sleek design.

Adding to the aesthetic delight, Chase put the numbers on the back of the card. Brilliant. Anyway, it’s just a cooler card than the Southwest cards, for what that’s worth.

5) You like flexibility

Ultimate Rewards points transfer into Southwest anyway. Plus, they are as extremely flexible because they can be transferred into many other top travel programs such as Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton, United, British Airways, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France. Yeah, great options.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners can help keep points active.

6) You shop online or want to maximize your rewards

The Sapphire Preferred gives you access to the point-maximizing Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. Don’t buy anything online without seeing if you can earn an extra point bonus by shopping through the UR portal. It’s legit, and a great way to double dip if your Ultimate Rewards card gets a category bonus already. For example, Kohls randomly will have a 10x Ultimate Rewards bonus.

Get the Southwest Airlines Card if…

Ok, I made a really strong case for the Chase Sapphire Preferred there, but here are a couple reasons why you would choose a Southwest card over the Sapphire Preferred. They are:

1) You can make special use of the multiple versions

There are more options to choose from with the Southwest-branded cards. There’s the personal and business Premier & Plus, so you have options.

2) You want to travel only domestically

If you want to only travel domestically and Southwest services your specific routes best, then it’s a no-brainer to go for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. It’s still a close call though because I often use Ultimate Rewards points to transfer to British Airways Avios for short haul domestic flights.

3) You want the Southwest Companion Pass

This is the biggest perk of the Southwest loyalty program and is probably the best domestic travel deal… in the world. To receive the Companion Pass you must earn 110,000 qualifying miles in a calendar year. The Companion Pass allows you to bring a guest with you on revenue and award flights. It’s nice.

How to get a Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest Companion Pass

However, right now isn’t an ideal time to complete your requirements for the Companion Pass. To truly maximize on the Companion Pass, you want to meet the qualifications as early in the year as possible. That’s because you receive the Companion Pass for the remainder of the year you met the 110,000 tier in, plus the full year following.

If you did meet your qualifications now you would have the Companion Pass for over a year which isn’t so bad – plus you may not want to wait a few months before you could start getting half off on our Southwest flights.

And just so you know the points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card &  Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card do count towards to the Companion Pass including the 60,000 point sign-up bonus. Points (Ultimate Rewards/hotels) transferred into Southwest do not count towards the Companion Pass.

Conclusion on the Southwest vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

I have had both of the Chase Sapphire Preferred (still have) and Southwest cards and enjoyed the specific benefits of each one. But, I value international travel especially in premium cabins higher than domestic travel, but the Companion Pass is a very good deal if you can reach the qualifications. If you’re looking for which credit card to apply for, make sure you do the research and select wisely.

Apply Now: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Apply Now: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Geoff Whitmore

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Card?
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About the Author

Geoff Whitmore
Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

25 Comments on "Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Card?"

  1. Omg I’ve been trying to decide between these exact 2 cards for a while!! Good to know that at least I picked the top contenders…. Does the Companion Pass let you bring another person on for free? Or is it just giving you the option of sharing your points??

    • Hi Lucy. The Companion Pass lets you bring a passenger with you for free. You don’t actually share the points, it’s just priced as one ticket. You will pick one special person in your life to be your companion for upcoming revenue or award flights. You can change this person (up to two times) if you would like in the future. Hope this helps!

  2. I love love your new website re-design… I loved your old one too, great job Geoff, your loyal reader – Geno

  3. I’m one of those people who don’t have the Sapphire Preferred, and don’t understand the hype. I personally prefer Membership Rewards points and their partners.

  4. I was on the fence about the Sapphire Preferred until I learned more about the ultimate rewards program with Chase. As this blog explains those points are the most flexible of all the reward programs.

  5. What are your thoughts on applying for these cards on the same day? I want them both!

    • First only apply for credit cards if your credit score is in good condition, and you can handle the minimum spending requirements. It is possible to get two Chase cards on the same day, but I suggest doing one personal and one business card if possible.

  6. Thanks for the info, as i was having a difficult time deciding between these two cards. Is the Sapphire a mastercard or visa?

  7. I went through your site, I hope you get credit

  8. So I just applied and was approved for the Southwest premier card but now I think I should have went with the Sapphire. What would happen if I went and applied for the Sapphire?

    • It’s possible to get two personal cards – if your score is in good condition, and you haven’t applied for any other Chase cards recently. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.

  9. For the 110k miles, do you have to earn all of them within Jan 1 – Dec 31st of a year? Or is 12 months from when you get the card? Or is it more like your Southwest points will just amass over the years, and whenever you pass 110k, you get the companion flights?

  10. As you mentioned you can transfer sapphire points to southwest rapid rewards, so you would have the southwest card for what other reason, thnaks

    • Personally, I have both cards. :) The SW card does come with a nice sign-up bonus, and you can earn more point per $1 on SW purchases.

      • Doesn’t the Sapphire card give 2X points for travel purchases? If so, wouldn’t it be comparable to the Rapid Rewards card for that reason? I’m looking at getting the RR card(s) for the Companion pass, and then getting the Sapphire for regular use afterwards.

  11. What does 110,000 qualifying miles actually break down to? Like how many times would you have to travel/how far to earn that many miles, and if you do not earn them all in one year, do they continue to build or do you start fresh every year?

    Also, can you combine chase sapphire and chase freedom ultimate rewards with rapid rewards points, or are they separate points?

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