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Airline credit cards can be a powerful travel tool if you’re loyal to a certain airline. The Southwest Airlines credit card lineup makes it easy to quickly earn Rapid Rewards to book award fights more often. Before applying, it wise to know if you can qualify for a Southwest credit card with your current credit score.

credit score needed for southwest credit card
If you have the right credit score for Southwest credit cards, you can use the points to travel to Mexico. Photo by Rafael Guajardo on Pexels

Determining Credit Score Needed For Southwest Credit Card

Determining your approval odds for a Southwest Airlines credit card can feel like a guessing game. After all, several factors other than your credit score influence the approval decision.

However, your current credit score gives you a good idea if you should apply or wait. If your score is within the normal approval range, you might apply when there’s a limited-time Southwest credit card bonus offer.

Credit Score Needed for Southwest Credit Card

For the Southwest credit cards, you have the best approval odds with a minimum 670 credit score. This score is the start of “good credit”, the second-best credit score tier. The best rating — excellent credit — typically starts with a 740 credit score.

It’s possible to get approved with a score in the mid-600s, but your application may require manual approval. This guidance applies to personal and small business Southwest credit cards.

Thankfully, we have several data points from recent applicants who share their approval success stories. These reports can give you an idea of what to expect if you apply for a Southwest Airlines credit card.

CS1974 reports getting instantly approved in November 2019 with a 677 credit score and an annual income between $60,000 and $80,000. Their initial credit limit is $6,900.

JGonz15 reports having a 644 credit score at approval for their Southwest credit card with an initial $4,000 credit limit.

If you want the flagship Southwest Priority Credit Card, it might be best to apply with a credit score above 700.  Redbird06 with a 742 credit score got instant approval for the Priority Card with an initial $10,800 credit limit. Their annual income is $75,000 which helps get a higher credit limit.

Visa Signature or Visa Platinum

Depending on your creditworthiness, you will either get a Visa Signature or a Visa Platinum version of your desired Southwest credit card. Either version has the same purchase rewards and Southwest travel benefits. However, your initial credit limit and the Visa-provided benefits will differ.

For example, the Visa Signature has a minimum starting credit limit of $5,000, Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection discounts, and secondary car rental insurance.

The Visa Platinum has a minimum initial credit limit of $2,000. You get secondary car rental insurance but may not get as many travel discounts and benefits.

Other Southwest Airlines Credit Card Approval Factors

Though it is good that you are aware of the credit score needed for Southwest Credit Cards, know that your credit score alone won’t influence Chase to approve or deny your application. Pay attention to these other factors as well.

Annual Income

A high annual income can boost your approval odds or a potentially higher initial credit limit. The nationwide median household income in 2018 is $61,937 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Making above $60k, means you have above-average income in most states.

A higher-income also makes it easier to have a lower debt-to-income ratio. A low ratio can factor into a high credit score. You’re more likely to pay your Southwest credit card balance in full each month and not default on your account.

Too Many New Credit Cards

For Chase credit cards, the most important factor besides your credit score can be the Chase 5/24 rule. This policy limits how many new Chase credit cards you can get in a 24-month period.

Chase is highly likely to decline your Southwest Airlines credit card application when at least 5 new credit cards account appear on your credit report in a 24-month period. You can either be the primary or authorized user for these accounts.

Charge cards without a preset spending limit like the Platinum Card® from American Express don’t count against you. Small business credit cards from Capital One, Discover, and TD Bank may hurt you. These three banks report your business credit card activity to the personal credit report.

If you’re currently “5/24” or higher, you should wait to apply to avoid an unnecessary rejection and hard credit pull. Once you have 4 or fewer credit card accounts younger than 24 months, you can apply and should get approval.

How Many Current Southwest Airlines Credit Cards Do You Have?

The Southwest credit card terms and conditions don’t explicitly say you can’t have at least 2 Southwest credit cards. A Southwest Airlines card combo makes sense if you can have one personal and one small business card. But if you don’t earn any self-employment income, you should only own one personal card at a time.

The primary reason why is qualifying for the signup bonus. Current application guidelines only let you new cardmembers earn a signup bonus. You don’t qualify if you currently own a personal Southwest credit card and have earned a bonus in the last 24 months.

That means you will need to close your existing personal card if you want to earn another bonus from any of the personal Southwest credit cards.

If you don’t want to close your existing account, you must either request an upgrade or downgrade to a different personal card product. Although, you won’t qualify for the current signup bonus offer.

These bonus offer restrictions don’t apply if you only have a small business or corporate card presently and want to earn a personal card signup bonus. Another “loophole” is that you can own the bonus for the other business Southwest Airlines credit card if you haven’t earned that specific card’s bonus in at least 24 months.

Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass

Besides the application guidelines, you might time your purchase to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass. This is one of the best companion travel deals. With the pass, you only need to pay the usual fees and taxes for your companion’s seat. On most flights, that’s $5.60 each way. You can buy your ticket with cash or points.

The Companion Pass is valid for up to 2 years. It’s good for the rest of the year you earn it and all of next year. You must earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year to earn the pass. The Rapid Rewards you earn from the signup bonus and card purchase count toward the 125,000-point requirement.

You might try applying for a Southwest credit card in the spring instead of the fall. This way, you can get the Companion Pass a few months earlier.

Summary of Credit Score Needed For Southwest Credit Card

Applying for a Southwest Airlines credit card with a credit score of at least 670 means you’re likely to get an instant approval decision. However, you may need to time your application if you have too many new credit card accounts or want to earn the best Southwest credit card offers.

FAQs

What credit score is needed for airline credit cards?

Most airline credit cards only need a minimum credit score of 650 or higher to get an instant approval decision. Premium cards that offer perks like complimentary airport lounge access may need a score of at least 740 for the best approval odds.

You should have high approval odds for a Southwest Airlines credit card with a score of at least 670. You will need to make sure you haven’t added at least 5 new cards to your wallet to avoid the Chase 5/24 rule. Pre-qualifying for a card can also help you apply for the cards with the best approval odds.

What is the minimum credit score for a Southwest Airlines credit card?

There isn’t a published minimum credit score for a Southwest credit card. It’s possible that you can get approval with a score in the low to mid-600s. Applying with a score of 670 or above, means you are most likely to get instant approval.

Like any credit card application, other factors can affect your approval decision. Even if you have an acceptable score, factors like too many recent applications or too many cards with the same bank can disqualify you.

What is the best Southwest credit card?

There are three personal and two small business versions of the Southwest Airlines credit card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

The best personal (consumer) option is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. This card has a $149 annual fee which can seem expensive at first. However, this card has these valuable perks:

  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards each card anniversary
  • Earn 2x Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
  • Earn 1x Rapid Rewards on all non-bonus spending
  • No foreign transaction fee

As this is the flagship Southwest credit card, it has a few more perks than the other personal credit cards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card has these benefits:

  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • In-flight WiFi credits
  • 9,000 bonus Rapid Rewards each card anniversary
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Earn 3x points Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2x points on social media and search engine advertising; Internet, cable, and phone services
  • No foreign transaction fee

The annual fee is $199. If you fly Southwest often for business, the WiFi credits can be a nice perk. Earning double points on select business purchases also means you can redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards more often.

Learn more: Business Credit Cards

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Josh Patoka

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