Why This Southwest Card Is a Solid Choice for Budget Travelers

Reyna Gobel
By Reyna Gobel 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good option for travelers who fly Southwest Airlines regularly and are looking to fly for nearly free, whether on long-haul or short flights. Plus, with frequent traveling and spending on the card, you can earn enough miles for a Companion Pass.

Here are just a few reasons why this card is a solid option for the frequent budget traveler:

The sign-up bonus gets you a head-start on earning a Companion Pass

This card’s sign-up bonus is as follows: Earn 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

It typically takes earning 135,000 points in one calendar year to get a Southwest Companion Pass, which allows a companion of your choosing to fly for just taxes and fees for a year or more depending on when you qualify.

The points included with the bonus count toward earning another Companion Pass, as do points earned from spending on the card.

Depending on how often you'd travel with a companion, this perk can offer enormous value, so if this card's bonus would help get you over the top, it can be well worth your while to apply.

The annual fee is largely offset by anniversary points

The pain of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s $99 annual fee is tempered a bit by the fact that you get 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary. Assuming you'll use those points, the card can wind up mostly paying for itself.

You can also rack up points by using the card on paid Southwest tickets. Earnings rates vary from earning 6 to 12 points per dollar for the most expensive fares. Other purchases on the card also earn points, but at a less attractive value.

You'll earn more Rapid Rewards points on certain spending categories

On top the sign-up bonus and anniversary bonus, you'll also earn points in recently added (or increased) bonus spending categories.

  • 3x points on Southwest® purchases.

  • 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.

  • 2x points on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services.

These categories are great for racking up more points on everyday spending, even when you're not flying anywhere.

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 2023, including those best for:

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