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Southwest offers a wide range of credit cards for each type of traveler. Whether you fly once a year or once a week, there’s a Rapid Rewards card that’s right for you.
If you’re thinking about applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, take a look at the underrated reasons why it can still be a worthwhile addition to your wallet.
But first: The well-known reasons
Easy-to-earn sign-up bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months. NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.4 cents each, so the bonus nearly makes up for the annual fee of the card.
Affordable annual fee: Of all of Southwest’s consumer credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card carries the lowest annual fee at only $69.
Extra points on Southwest purchases: Earn 2 points per dollar when you purchase Southwest flights, spend at partner hotels and car rental agencies or make other qualifying purchases, like local transit (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone service and select streaming. All other purchases will earn you 1 point per $1 spent.
» Learn more: Read our full Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus review
The underrated reasons
1. Rapid Reward points won’t expire
You don’t need to worry about sacrificing unused points due to inactivity like on other airlines. Thanks to a change made by the airline in 2019, your Rapid Rewards points will never expire unless you terminate your account.
2. Annual point bonus
Every year, just for having the card, you’ll get an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. This built-in reward can help you top off your account and get a little bit closer to your next reward vacation.
3. Companion Pass head start
If you typically travel with a friend or family member, earning the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass can be a steal. With this deal, flyers can select one companion to fly with them free of airline charges. The savings are huge — companions need only to cover the cost of the taxes and fees, from $5.60 one-way.
Every dollar that you spend with the credit card gets you closer to earning the minimum 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year to access this perk. In fact, the sign-up bonus alone gets you nearly one-third of the way there.
4. Use points to fly to more international destinations
One underrated reason to add the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to your lineup is the ability to use your Rapid Rewards points to purchase flights from more than 50 partner airlines through More Rewards. While Southwest itself already flies internationally to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, thanks to their partner program, you can redeem your points for even more far flung destinations.
Just be sure to look closely at the value you're getting for your points as the More Rewards program tends to offer sub-optimal redemptions compared to booking Southwest flights.
Note: Southwest has temporarily paused the ability to redeem with their international partners due to COVID-19.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award flights on Southwest
5. Access to Chase Visa perks
As part of the Visa brand, your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card also offers a bevy of benefits that aren’t often discussed, like:
Auto rental collision damage waiver: When renting a vehicle, simply decline the rental car company’s collision damage waiver and pay with your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. If you have insurance, this will act as a secondary coverage; if not, this benefit can act as primary coverage.
Extended warranty protection: If a product has a warranty of three years or less, purchasing it with your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card can extend that warranty for an additional year. Note that coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim and doesn’t cover shipping and handling expenses.
Baggage delay insurance: If your baggage is delayed or misdirected for more than six hours, this benefit covers purchases of the essentials — such as toiletries, clothing and chargers — for up to $100/day for three days. Be sure to keep your receipts to file your claim.
Lost luggage reimbursement: If the airline loses or damages your checked or carry-on baggage, you can claim up to $3,000 per covered person per trip.
The bottom line
Your 3,000 anniversary points alone get you over halfway to earning back the $69 annual fee. Considering you can earn a nice sign-up bonus — not to mention the low annual fee — the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card can be a great starter card for those new to travel rewards or flying Southwest.
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 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card