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.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Published
Edited by Meg Lee

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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

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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 (dropping to $5,000 spend requirement Jan. 1, 2024).

Unlimited Tier Qualifying Points: 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent (dropping to $5,000 spend requirement Jan. 1, 2024).

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.

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.

Get up to 80,000 bonus points with our favorite Southwest cards
Check out our nerdy picks for the best Southwest credit cards and find the right card for you.

Welcome bonus

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

  • Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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.

As noted in the table above, the spend requirement for earning bonus TQPs will be dropping to $5,000 for a number of Southwest credit cards beginning in 2024. This change is in addition to a lowering of requirements for earning elite status. Read more on that here.

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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more Travel cards
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