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One of the most popular airline credit cards at the moment is Southwest Airlines. New consumer card 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.

Maybe you want to make up for the recent travel slowdown or simply love flying on Southwest. This is an attractive offer to consider for several reasons.

southwest credit cards bonus
Southwest Airlines BNA-TPA in Nov. 2017. Credit: Johnny Jet

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Bonus

All three consumer cards come with the same bonus offer. New consumer card 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.

Here are the cards with the bonus offer as well as the standard anniversary bonus offer that comes with the card:

Below are several reasons why you should pursue this bonus.

You Qualify for the Signup Bonus

Some prior planning for the best Southwest Airlines credit cards is needed in order to qualify. First, this offer isn’t available if you currently have a personal Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card or closed and received a Rapid Rewards bonus in the last 24 months.

If you have a Southwest small business or employee card, but not a personal card, you can qualify. The two business credit cards that Southwest offers are the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. Both are some of the best Chase business credit cards.

Also, these Southwest credit cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule. If you have five or more new credit cards open 24 months or less, Chase will most likely deny your application. Chase counts the cards where you’re a primary or secondary user.

If you pass these two prerequisites, you can likely qualify for a Southwest credit card and this exciting offer.

You Live Near a Southwest Airlines Hub

If your primary airport is a Southwest Airlines hub, it can make sense to earn Rapid Rewards. Many regard Southwest Airlines as a “discount airline” as its cash prices and award ticket prices can be lower than legacy carriers for the same routes.

As the various domestic airlines are reducing their flight schedules due to fewer travelers, Southwest may have more attractive options than before. Being able to pay with bonus points means fewer out-of-pocket expenses.

Related: Best Miles Credit Cards

Most Southwest Airlines Destinations are Open

Most Southwest Airlines routes are open to tourists across the United States and Caribbean islands. However, you must observe local travel restrictions like the New York State or Hawaiian quarantines.

Sure, you can also fly a legacy carrier to many of these same places. However, your award flight might cost more than with Southwest. For instance, a one-way flight from Phoenix to Dallas costs 8,424 Rapid Rewards points in mid-September. The same flight on American Airlines costs 15,000 AAdvantage miles plus fees and taxes.

Usually, airline miles are most valuable for international first-class award flights. But, it’s highly likely that most of us won’t be traveling internationally anytime soon due to bans and the increasing cases of COVID-19.

Fewer Incidental Fees

Southwest Airlines is a popular airline because they charge fewer incidental fees than the legacy carriers. While the major airlines are temporarily waiving change fees and award miles reinstatement charges, Southwest continues to be more fee-friendly.

As always, your first two checked bags fly for free. As storing your carry-on bags can be more of a hassle these days, checking a bag can be the more convenient option.

Also, Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge change fees when you cancel up to 10 minutes before your flight’s scheduled departure. Your Southwest flight credit expires up to 12 months from your original ticket purchase date in most cases.

It’s Easier to Get the Companion Pass

One reason frequent Southwest Airlines flyers wait for limited-time Southwest credit card offers is to get the Southwest Companion Pass. Your signup bonus earns count toward the annual points requirement plus your credit card purchase rewards and the points you earn from the fare price.

You Can Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards

Southwest Rapid Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer points when you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred® credit card.

Point transfers don’t count toward the annual point threshold for the Companion Pass. However, you can quickly book more Southwest Airlines award flights.

You might recall that Southwest Airlines flights are not available on third-party booking sites, including the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. If you want to book a Southwest award flight with Ultimate Rewards, your only option is transferring them to your Rapid Rewards account in 1,000-point increments.

Enjoy Ongoing Southwest Airlines Credit Card Benefits

The three Southwest credit cards have varying annual fees and card benefits. All three cards offer an anniversary point bonus.

Cardholders earn 2x Rapid Rewards per $1 on Southwest and Rapid Rewards partner purchases. Each non-bonus purchase earns 1 point per $1. These points count toward the Companion Pass requirements.

The most luxurious of your three consumer card options is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card:

  • 7,500-anniversary points each year
  • Annual $75 Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Bookings per year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $149 annual fee

Rapid Rewards Don’t Expire

The best time to book travel this year can be at the last minute to avoid last-minute rebooking and cancellations due to the ever-changing travel restrictions.

Southwest Rapid Rewards don’t expire, so you can bank this bonus and redeem it in 2021 or later when a great award trip comes up.

Summary

You can try for a Southwest Airlines credit card any day of the year. Remember, new consumer card 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.

Once again, here are the three consumer cards that have the bonus (as well as the annual bonus you’ll get for having and keeping the card open):

FAQs

Is the Southwest credit card a good deal?

Getting a Southwest Airlines credit card is a good option if you want to earn Rapid Rewards on purchases and redeem them for award flights. Any co-brand airline credit card is good only if you use that airline often and you can easily redeem your miles. Otherwise, you may lose your miles if they expire before you can use them.

As there are three personal Southwest credit cards and two small business options, compare your options. Choose the card with the best annual fee and travel benefits for your travel habits.

Is there a free Southwest credit card?

No, the lowest annual fee for a Southwest Airlines credit card is $69. This honor goes to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. You do get a 3,000-point anniversary bonus with each card renewal that can indirectly offset the annual fee when you book your next award flight.

Is the Southwest credit card worth the annual fee?

The Southwest credit card can be worth the annual fee when the purchase rewards and additional card benefits are worth more than the annual fee. For example, if you can earn enough points each year to book at least one one-way flight, your earnings are probably worth more than the fee.

Each Southwest credit card has an annual fee. Earning the signup bonus lets you easily earn enough points to offset the annual fee for your first year and second year. Remember that most credit cards with an annual fee require you to keep the card for at least 12 months or you might forfeit the signup bonus you earned.

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