5 best Southwest credit cards (one with a HUGE 100,000 point bonus)
When it comes to using credit card rewards, airline miles can get really confusing. Luckily, Southwest Airlines has always kept it simple. You don’t have to worry about a Southwest award chart, blackout dates, basic economy fares or checked bag fees. Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards review for more details.
Southwest credit cards are some of the best airline credit cards on the market, for the simple fact that they can help you earn the best deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass. It’s smart to look into a Southwest credit card to earn more points and perks while flying on Southwest. With so many credit cards to choose from, we’ve laid the details out in an digestible way to help you decide the features that are most important to you.
Best Southwest credit cards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best card if you want the lowest annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Best card for overseas purchases and a lower annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best personal card for frequent Southwest flyers
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best business card for ongoing perks
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Best business card for a lower minimum spending requirement
|Card name||Bonus||Annual fee||Our review|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$69||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$99||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$149||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||Earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months||$99||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Earn up to 100,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements:
– 70,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
– 30,000 points after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
|$199||Our review of the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card|
Which Southwest credit card is right for you?
Three of these cards are personal credit cards and two are business credit cards, a total of five different cards to compare. Just remember that Southwest allows you to carry only one personal credit card at a time. Here is a breakdown of card features to help you decide which card to choose. And read our guide on how to use Southwest points.
Best card if you want a low annual fee
With the Chase Southwest Plus, you’ll earn up to 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Southwest points value hovers around 1.5 cents each, making this bonus worth $600 in Southwest flights.
At $69 per year, this is the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card, and earns you just as solid welcome bonus as all other Southwest personal credit cards.
Benefits & perks
Beyond all the travel insurance benefits, the only notable ongoing benefit is that you’ll receive 3,000 Southwest points every cardmember anniversary. Based on the general Southwest points value, those points are worth around $45 per year, offsetting more than half the card’s annual fee. Here’s our take on the Southwest Plus Card benefits.
After you meet minimum spending requirements, you’ll have 41,000 points, which is worth $615. Southwest has crazy good sales all the time, so you should easily be able to take a tropical vacation with a bonus like that. For example, it’s not difficult to find round-trip flights to Cancun from all over the U.S. for ~21,000 Southwest points. Read our Southwest Plus Card review.
Best card for overseas purchases and a lower annual fee
The Chase Southwest Premier offers up to 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Southwest points value is generally 1.5 cents each. This bonus should give you at least $600 in Southwest flights.
Despite this card having a $99 annual fee, its anniversary bonus points essentially make it cheaper than the Chase Southwest Plus. You’ll receive 6,000 Southwest points every time you renew your card. Those are worth $90 in Southwest flights, effectively bringing your out-of-pocket expense each year to just $9.
Benefits & perks
Beyond the 6,000 cardmember anniversary bonus points, this card differs little from the Chase Southwest Plus card, but it does have an important that card does not: The Chase Southwest Premier doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you plan on swiping your Southwest credit card abroad, but still don’t want an annual fee in the triple digits, this is the card you want. Here’s a closer look at the Chase Southwest Premier benefits and perks.
After meeting minimum spending, you’ll have 41,000 points, worth $615 in Southwest airfare. The only other value factor is how much you spend abroad, as the card will save you in foreign transaction fees — but that can add up quickly! I saved $117 on these fees during a recent vacation by using a card that waived foreign transaction fees. Check out our Southwest Premier Card review.
Best card for frequent Southwest flyers
The Chase Southwest Priority comes with up to 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That’s worth $600 in Southwest flights.
This is the only card on this list that will completely negate the annual fee each year with zero effort on your part. If you’re a Southwest regular, you’ll receive ~$188 in free airfare each year, thanks to a $75 Southwest statement credit and 7,500 Southwest points for renewing your card each year.
Benefits & perks
With this card, you’ll receive:
- Up to $75 in statement credits for eligible Southwest purchases each account anniversary year
- Four upgraded boardings (positions A1 to A15) each account anniversary year (worth $30, $40, or $50 each, depending on the flight)
- 20% back on Southwest in-flight purchases
- 7,500 Southwest points on your account anniversary (worth ~$113 in Southwest flights)
- 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually (which equal 15,000 TQPs)
- No foreign transaction fees
If you fly Southwest with any regularity you should opt for the Southwest Priority Card. You can receive $1,000+ in value from the card in the first year:
- 41,000 points after earning the intro bonus and meeting spending requirements (worth $615 based on our Southwest points value estimation)
- $75 statement credit annually
- $113 in points (based on our Southwest points value estimation) annually
- Up to $200 in upgraded boardings annually
This is hands down the best Southwest personal card, and it’s not close. Here’s our Southwest Priority Card review.
Best business card if you want a huge welcome bonus (that counts toward the Companion Pass)
The Chase Southwest Performance Business Card comes with 100,000 bonus points after meeting tiered spending requirements:
- 70,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
- 30,000 points after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
That’s worth $1,500 in Southwest flights (well, it’s actually worth a lot more — I’ll explain).
Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses help you qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass. To receive it, you must earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year. After meeting minimum spending, you’ll have at least 125,000 qualifying points — exactly enough to earn the Companion Pass!
Benefits & perks
The card also comes with the best Southwest benefits of any card. You’ll receive:
- Four upgraded boardings each year (between A1 and A15)
- Up to 365 credits each year worth $8 toward inflight Wi-Fi
- 9,000 anniversary points (worth $135 in flights)
- 3 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car purchases
- Statement credit of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee
This is hands down one of the best credit cards for travel. Read our examination of Southwest Performance Business credit card benefits.
If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, this is a huge no-brainer. Between the sign-up bonus, the Global Entry statement credit, the Wi-Fi credits, and the four upgraded boardings each year (which can cost $50 a pop), you can easily receive $1,750+ in value from this card for the first year. And because you’ll earn the Companion Pass, this effectively doubles the value of your points, as you can bring someone along for free whenever you fly Southwest. You could easily receive $3,200 in value by earning the full bonus on this card.
Check out our Southwest Performance Business credit card review for the full details and our perks and benefits guides for an in-depth look at the rewarding extras the card comes with. Read our Southwest Performance Business credit card review.
Best business card for a lower minimum spending requirement
The Chase Southwest Premier Business Card offers 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. Southwest points are valued at 1.5 cents each, making this bonus worth, on average, $900 in Southwest flights.
You can only hold one Southwest personal credit card at a time. If you’ve already got one, you’ll have to cancel it (or product change it) if you want a different one. However, you can have two Southwest small business cards at once. If you open and earn the bonuses of both the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card and the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card, you’ll immediately qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass!
Benefits & perks
- 6,000 bonus points each account anniversary year (worth $90, based on average Southwest points value)
- Free employee cards
- No foreign transaction fees
Check out our deep dive into the Southwest Premier Business Card benefits and perks.
This card’s annual fee is about half of its Southwest small business card brother. The sign-up bonus is smaller, but so is its annual fee and minimum spending requirement. If you don’t think you can cope with the slightly more daunting Chase Southwest Performance Business Card annual fee and spending requirement, this is still an amazing card to open. Read our Southwest Premier Business Card review.
Go after the Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass lets a friend or family member travel with you for (nearly) free whenever you travel on Southwest. Whether your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash, your companion flies for just the cost of taxes and fees, which are usually ~$6 one-way on domestic flights.
You can apply for any of the personal Southwest cards (which all have the same welcome bonus of 40,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements) and a Southwest small business card. These two welcome bonuses together (from one personal card and the Performance business card) can nearly qualify you for the Companion Pass. This is flat out the easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
For example, if you opened the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card (60,000 point bonus) and the Southwest Plus Card (40,000 point bonus), you’d have at least 104,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements. Or, you could simply open the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card and accrue up to 125,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements.
Check out our guide on how to earn Southwest points for more tricks to receiving the Companion Pass.
Now is the absolute best time of year to earn the Companion Pass. Your Companion Pass is valid through the year you earn it, plus the entire next year. So if you earn it in early 2020, you can use it until December 31, 2021. That’s almost two years, allowing for lots of great travel opportunities. Here’s how to use the Southwest Companion Pass.
With several different Southwest credit cards to choose from (and all the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card earning a GIANT bonus of up to 100,000 points), it can be overwhelming to decide which card is right for you. But now that we have broken it down, it should be clear what card is the best for you based on your spending and usage habits.
Which Southwest credit card do you have your eye on?
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