Editorial Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Review: Solid Rewards for Less

You'll earn the same rewards and sign-up bonus as Southwest's pricier cards, and earn a Companion Pass faster — but you'll also miss out on perks.

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Our Take

The Bottom Line: It's a good option for Southwest loyalists who don't care about airline status or luxury benefits. But it doesn't travel as well as its sibling cards with higher annual fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

on Chase's secure website

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual Fee
$69
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Quick Facts

Annual Fee
$69
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Anniversary bonus
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • Has foreign transaction fee

recommended credit score

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Elevated earning in popular categories

Earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel and at restaurants, and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. Your points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, and you can also transfer points to partner airlines, including Southwest. Annual fee: $95.

Read our review

Full Review

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card isn't the flashiest of the three co-branded Chase cards in the Rapid Rewards family, but that doesn't mean it's undeserving of a seat at the big kids' table.

After all, the three Southwest cards offer the same APR and ongoing rewards rates, not to mention the same sign-up bonus. And for a limited time, the card offers an easy way to earn a Southwest Companion PassEarn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. And since the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of all the Southwest cards, why wouldn't it win out every time?

Well, for starters, it doesn't travel as well as its two big siblings, nor is it as generous with side benefits. And if you're a loyal Southwest customer seeking extra perks when you travel, it could be that the much pricier Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card will still be a better deal for you thanks to the added value you'll get.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: The basics

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $69

Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Rewards:

  • 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases

NerdWallet values Southwest points at an average of 1.7 cents each when redeemed for Southwest flights. You can also apply points toward hotel stays, rental cars, international flights on other airlines, merchandise, gift cards, and travel experiences like cruises and spa packages.

APR: The ongoing APR is 18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Other benefits: 

  • Anniversary bonus of 3,000 points every new cardmember year

Benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Low annual fee: The $69 annual fee is relatively low for a card that offers travel rewards. For comparison's sake, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card charges a $99 annual fee, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card clocks in at $149 per year.

Generous sign-up bonus: For a limited time, this card is offering an incredibly generous sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Extra anniversary points: For each year you keep your card account open, you'll receive an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. (You can also earn extra points by booking car rentals and hotels through the Rapid Rewards program, or using the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal.)

Drawbacks and alternatives

Fewer perks than other Southwest cards: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card doubles the anniversary points bonus: 6,000 Rapid Rewards points each year, instead of the 3,000 you'd get with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Based on point valuation, that's enough to offset the difference in annual fees between those two cards.

And the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers even more benefits to help defray its hefty $149 annual fee. Every year, Priority cardholders get a 7,500-point anniversary bonus, a $75 Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings when available (those are worth $30 to $50 per flight), and 20% back on in-flight purchases. Depending on how often you treat yourself to Wi-Fi and a snack, that equals at least $270 in value.

Also, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the only card of the three that doesn't earn tier qualifying points. Those points count toward elite status, known as "A-List" or "A-List Preferred" in Southwest's programs. Benefits of such status include priority boarding and bonus points for flights you take.

Less-than-flexible ongoing rewards tiers: Most purchases will earn you 1 point per dollar, and you'll earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. But other rewards cards allow you to earn 2 points per dollar on more spending categories without having to shop through a partner program. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. It has an annual fee of $95. With the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you'll earn 2 points per dollar on all spending, for an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.

Foreign transaction fee: With its 3% foreign transaction fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card isn't the best card to bring along on an international trip. Neither the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card nor the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card charges a foreign transaction fee.

You can see how this card stacks up against other competitors by visiting NerdWallet's roundup of top credit cards.

Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card right for you?

Frequent Southwest flyers will find a lot to love about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card because it offers so many of the same benefits as its higher-end siblings.

Just keep in mind that you won't get the luxury perks or side benefits found on the more expensive Southwest co-branded cards. And if you're seeking a card for use overseas, or one that offers more rewards flexibility, you should consider other options.