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For fans of Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are both enticing. The former offers generous loyalty benefits, including anniversary bonuses and a faster way to earn a Companion Pass. The latter gives you more options when redeeming rewards and lets you transfer points to Southwest's frequent flyer program on a 1:1 basis.
But unless you’re a frequent Southwest flyer and don’t need to use your points for any other travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the better choice. It offers flexibility, heightened earnings and travel protections that you won’t find on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
How the cards stack up
Let's start by comparing these cards' features side by side.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $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.
Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Foreign transaction fees
Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is better for most
If your trips aren't always with Southwest, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card might be a more useful card. Here's why.
It offers more redemption options
Though Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for some international flights with partner airlines through Southwest's portal, you generally won't get a good value for them. Plus, they can't be transferred to other loyalty programs. Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, on the other hand, have plenty of redemption options. You can transfer points to several airline and hotel partners on a 1:1 basis. Those partners include Southwest, but also United, British Airways, Air France/KLM, Marriott and Hyatt, among others. Alternatively, you could book travel directly through Chase's travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. And if you're not in the traveling mood, you could opt for cash back and get 1 cent per point.
The bonus categories are broader
Rewards can often be more robust when you aren't brand loyal. Such is the case with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, where you won't earn more than 1x points unless you spend on Southwest Airlines purchases and participating hotel and car rental partners. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 5x points on all travel booked through Chase; 3x points on dining, streaming services and online grocery purchases; plus 2x on all travel not booked through Chase. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you more travel options, and you aren't beholden to a particular airline or travel partner to earn elevated rewards.
Your trips are better protected
Both cards offer some travel insurance when you use the card to book your trip. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers some modest travel protections, including:
Baggage delay coverage: If your bags are delayed for more than six hours, you’ll get up to $100 per day for three days.
Auto rental collision damage waiver: Secondary coverage that provides reimbursement for expenses that aren’t covered by your own insurance policy.
But the insurance offered from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card outshines its competitor:
Primary auto rental collision damage waiver: You’ll be reimbursed up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
Baggage delay coverage: If your bags are delayed for more than six hours, you’ll get up to $100 per day for five days.
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: If your trip is canceled or cut short because of weather or sickness, you’ll get reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip for nonrefundable expenses like hotel rooms and tours.
Trip delay reimbursement: If your travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you’ll get up to $500 per ticket for you and your family, good toward unreimbursed expenses like a hotel and meals.
Extra peace of mind for your travels, without extra cost, can prove invaluable when things go wrong.
Why you still might want to go with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
The anniversary bonus could be more lucrative
Both cards offer a generous sign-up bonus and a points bonus each year you renew your card.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card automatically gives a flat 6,000-point bonus outright, no matter how much you spent on the card the previous year. NerdWallet values Southwest Rapid Rewards at 1.4 cents each.
The bonus you’ll earn each cardholder year from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card varies according to your spending. Each account anniversary, cardmembers will earn bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. That means you’d have to spend $60,000 on the card in a year to earn 6,000 anniversary points.
The sign-up bonus is easier to earn
Both cards offer top-notch sign-up bonuses. But the bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card doesn't require you to spend as much in the first three months. During that period, you'd have to spend four times as much to earn the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
You'll earn that Companion Pass faster
To qualify for Southwest's sought-after Companion Pass — an ID card that lets another person fly with you for free for almost two years — you need to earn 125,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points. The bonus points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card count toward that total. Though points earned from the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be transferred to Southwest, they won't count toward the Companion Pass.
If earning a Companion Pass and saving thousands of dollars on travel costs is your endgame, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is your better bet. The current sign-up bonus will give you a good start.
Even loyal Southwest flyers could come out on top with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you fly with a different airline every time you travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a smarter choice because of the flexibility it offers.
Southwest loyalists will also, by and large, be better off using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn rewards that can be used toward Southwest flights.
But the no-frills Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can make sense for Southwest enthusiasts who are looking to earn a Companion Pass, or for those who struggle meeting the steeper spending requirements of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
» MORE: Best travel rewards credit cards