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Do you fly Southwest Airlines often? Trying for a Southwest credit card is an easy way to earn Rapid Rewards points. It’s also easier to earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass®. But which card should you try for first if you don’t have perfect credit?

southwest credit card easiest to get
Once you find the Southwest credit card that’s easiest to get for you, you can begin earning more Rapid Rewards. Photo by Johnny Jet

Different Southwest Credit Cards

There are three personal and two small business credit cards to choose from. Each one has a different annual fee and benefit tiers. The options can feel perplexing as only Delta Air Lines seems to have more options.

Here are the personal and business cards you should consider first.

Related: What Credit Score Do I Need for the Southwest Airlines Credit Card?

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the entry-level personal Southwest credit card. Therefore, it should be the easiest of the personal cards to qualify for. It also has the lowest annual fee of $69 (vs. $99 and $149).

Credit card benefits for the Southwest Plus card include:

  • 3,000-anniversary points with each annual renewal
  • Baggage delay insurance up to $100 daily for 3 days
  • Lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger
  • Purchase protection up to $500 per claim ($50,000 per year)

Cardholders earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases.

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

You will have the best approval odds with a credit score of at least 670. But it’s possible to qualify with a score in the mid-600s. Some data points in previous years report people qualifying with a score slightly above 600.

However, banks are tightening their application requirements during this pandemic so you should consider trying if your score is 650 or higher. Getting credit card pre-approval from Chase or the CardMatch tool is a free way to check your approval odds so you don’t waste an application.

Try for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Instead?

If your score is near or above 670, you can also consider trying for the mid-tier Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This card has a $99 annual fee and has a 6,000-point anniversary bonus. The other card benefits are similar to the Plus card. You will need to decide if the extra 3,000 points are worth the additional $30 fee.

One data point for the Premier from November 2019 states an application was approved with a 660 credit score. Their initial card limit was $9,500.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

This is one of two Southwest small business credit cards available. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. This card’s annual fee is $199.

While this is your only option for a Southwest Airlines business product, it’s an exciting product. Cardholders:

  • Earn 3x Rapid Rewards on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2x points for every $1 you spend on social media and search engine advertising; internet, cable, and phone services
  • 4 Upgraded Booking per year (when available)
  • Inflight WiFi credit (up to 365 annual credits)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • 9,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points each cardholder anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fee

Qualifying for a business credit card is different than trying for a consumer credit card. As Chase reports your payment activity to the personal credit bureaus, you should have a personal credit score of at least 700 to try.

As the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a small business credit card, your business activity can help you qualify. It’s possible to qualify as a sole proprietor or as an organized business such as an LLC.

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. 

The other Southwest business card is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

Business Credit Cards

As the business climate is a little different these days, some online data points suggest it’s harder to qualify for Chase business credit cards since mid-April 2020. It appears Chase is more likely to approve applications when if you have a Chase business checking account and are an incorporated business.

Even if you’re a sole proprietor, it’s still worth considering trying if you have a steady business income and good credit. You can try calling the reconsideration line if they decline your application.

Related: Best Southwest Airlines credit cards

Chase Credit Card Application Rules

Having a specific credit score doesn’t equal automatic approval. Chase reviews each card application on a case-by-case basis. You and your spouse may both have identical credit scores but it’s possible Chase (and other banks) approve one application and deny the other.

These are some of the card application rules to consider before trying for a Southwest credit card.

5/24 Rule

Having too many new credit cards can result in an instant rejection–even if you have perfect credit. This guideline disqualifies you when you add five or more credit cards with a preset spending limit to your credit report in a rolling 24-month period.

This 5/24 rule is unpublished but well-known online. It applies to most of the co-brand Chase credit cards that earn travel rewards. If you’re the primary or authorized user for essentially any card, it can be subject to the 5/24 rule.

2 New Chase Cards in 30 Days

If you recently applied for another Chase credit card, wait at least 30 days before trying for another one. Chase will most likely decline your second card application within a 30-day period.

Qualify for the Southwest Signup Bonus

Because there are multiple Southwest credit cards, it’s easy to think you can earn more than one Southwest Airlines signup bonus. This belief is true, but it may not be as easy as you think.

To earn a repeat bonus for a personal Southwest credit card, you must close your current card account. It must also be at least 24 months since earning your last Southwest Airlines signup bonus for a personal card.

This restriction doesn’t apply if your current Southwest card is a business version or an employee card. If you’re an authorized user for a personal Southwest card, you must first close your card before trying to become a primary cardmember.

The business card signup bonus is easier to qualify for. You qualify for the Southwest Airlines Performance Business Credit Card signup bonus when you haven’t earned the bonus on that specific card in the last 24 months.


You may consider the entry-level Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card if you want the best approval odds. However, the mid-tier Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier can be almost as easy to qualify for. With either card, plan on trying when your credit score is in the mid-600s or higher.


What credit score do you need for a Southwest Airlines credit card?

It’s best to try for a personal or business Southwest Airlines credit card with a credit score of 670 or higher. This score is the start of “good credit.” However, several data points indicate you can get approved with a score closer to 650. Chase also considers your recent credit card applications and annual income when you try.

Although it has been several years, one online report indicates getting approved for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card with a 607 credit score. If your score is below 670, it can be worth the few minutes to request credit card pre-approval. This task doesn’t impact your credit score and is free.

Which Southwest credit card is best?

Here are the best personal and small business Southwest credit cards:

The Priority Card is the best personal card because of its many card benefits. Despite the $149 annual fee, you get these card benefits:

  • $75 annual Southwest credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year (when available)
  • 7,500-anniversary points
  • No foreign transaction fee

As with the other consumer Southwest cards, the Priority card earns 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases. New consumer card cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

The signup bonus is the same for all three Southwest consumer cards.

If you only want a card that earns Rapid Rewards points and has a lower annual fee than the Priority card, the best alternative can be the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. You also get 3,000-anniversary points when you pay the $69 annual fee.

There is also a business card option. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card benefits include:

  • 365 annual inflight WiFi credits
  • 4 Upgraded Booking per year (when available)
  • Earn up to 3x Rapid Rewards on purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fee

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. 

Is it worth getting a Southwest credit card?

Getting a Southwest credit card can be worth it when you fly Southwest Airlines on a regular basis. Each purchase earns Rapid Rewards points. You redeem these points for Southwest award flights.

There are three different personal Southwest credit cards. The top-tier Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has a $149 annual fee. Although this fee is relatively steep, it’s worth it if you use the $75 annual Southwest travel credit and the 4 Upgraded Bookings. You also get 7,500-anniversary points each card renewal.

The other two Southwest credit cards are good if you only want a card that earns Rapid Rewards points or has an annual fee below $100. Keep in mind that your effective annual fee with the Priority Card can actually be less once you redeem the $75 annual Southwest travel credit.

These two cards earn 2 Rapid Rewards per $1 on Southwest purchases. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent.

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