What Is the Best Southwest Credit Card Offer?

If you fly on Southwest at least once per year, the Rapid Rewards Priority card is the clear choice.

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If you "LUV" Southwest Airlines, it pays to have one of its credit cards to earn bonus points, accelerate elite status and enjoy other benefits. But, which card should you apply for? Which provides the best Southwest credit card offer?

We'll compare the personal Southwest credit card offers to help you choose which one is best for your travels.

Comparing Southwest credit card offers

Southwest has credit cards for personal and business use; for this analysis, we're focusing on Southwest’s personal credit cards. There are three personal Southwest credit cards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Welcome bonus

Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Annual fee

$69.

$99.

$149.

Renewal bonus

3,000.

6,000.

7,500.

Southwest points earned

2x.

3x.

3x.

Bonus categories

2x local transit, commuting and rideshare; internet, cable, phone and select streaming; on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; 1x everything else.

2x local transit, commuting and rideshare; internet, cable, phone and select streaming; on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; 1x everything else.

2x local transit, commuting and rideshare; internet, cable, phone and select streaming; on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; 1x everything else.

Elite status

None.

Unlimited Tier Qualifying Points: 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent.

Unlimited Tier Qualifying Points: 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent.

Foreign transaction fees

3%.

None.

None.

25% back on in-flight purchases

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

Additional benefits

2 Early Bird Check-In per year and travel and purchase coverage.

2 Early Bird Check-In per year and travel and purchase coverage.

$75 annual Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year, and travel and purchase coverage.

Each Southwest personal card offers a different level of benefits.

Let's compare the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. We'll look at each card's welcome offer, annual fees, perks and earning power.

Welcome bonus

Southwest welcome bonuses often change throughout the year. Currently, the welcome bonus is the same for all three Southwest credit cards:

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Annual fee

All Southwest credit cards have an annual fee. While the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has a lower fee, it earns fewer points per dollar on Southwest purchases and offers a smaller anniversary bonus, plus it doesn't offer as many benefits.

You'll have to weigh the benefits to decide if paying a higher annual fee is worthwhile.

Renewal bonus

To partially offset the annual fee, each card provides anniversary bonus points. With Southwest points worth an average of 1.5 cents each, these bonus points cover a substantial portion of the annual fee.

Bonus points on Southwest purchases

You'll earn up to 3x points per dollar on Southwest purchases of flights, vacation packages and in-flight beverages, Wi-Fi and more.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns 2x points on Southwest purchases, while the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card both earn 3x points. While the difference may seem small, you're earning 50% more points on all Southwest purchases with the two higher-level cards.

Other bonus categories

In addition to earning bonus points on Southwest purchases, the Southwest credit cards earn extra points on eligible bonus categories as well. All three cards earn 2x points per dollar on local transit, commuting and rideshare services. Plus, 2x points per dollar on internet, cable, phone and select streaming subscriptions, as well as with Rapid Rewards rental car and hotel partners.

Elite status

Spending on your eligible Southwest credit card can earn unlimited Tier Qualifying Points toward A-List status. For every $10,000 you spend each year on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card credit cards, you'll receive 1,500 TQPs.

🤓Nerdy Tip

There are no caps on the number of TQPs you can earn, so it is possible to earn elite status without paying for a flight.

To earn A-List status, you need 25 qualifying one-way flights or 35,000 TQPs. Meanwhile, the next status tier, A-List Preferred, is earned after 50 one-way flights or 70,000 TQPs. If you're already receiving TQPs from purchasing flights, TQPs earned from your Southwest credit card spending make it even easier to achieve elite status.

If Southwest A-List status is important to you, understand that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card doesn't earn TQPs based on spending.

Perks that are the same

In addition to the unique Southwest credit card offers for each price point, there are some benefits that are the same for all three cards. Here are a few of the common benefits that you'll receive no matter which card you choose:

2x bonus categories for transit, communications and with Rapid Rewards partners.

No blackout dates, change fees or points expiration.

Bags fly free for all Southwest travelers.

Lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger.

Baggage delay insurance up to $100 a day.

Extended warranty on eligible purchases.

Purchase protection up to $500 per claim for 120 days.

Choosing the best Southwest credit card offer for you

While all three Southwest credit card offers are appealing to people who fly Southwest, there is one clear winner.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best option if you fly on Southwest at least once per year. Although it has the highest annual fee, the 7,500-anniversary points and $75 annual Southwest travel credit are a moneymaker for Southwest travelers, essentially wiping out the annual fee. Plus, you can get reimbursed for up to four Upgraded Boarding passes each year, which are worth at least $30, which adds another $120 in value each year.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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