CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSSOUTHWEST RAPID REWARDS PLUS REVIEW: SOLID REWARDS FOR LESS

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Review: Solid Rewards for Less

You'll earn the same rewards and sign-up bonus as on Southwest's pricier cards, but you'll also miss out on a couple of important benefits.
Sara Rathner Author AvatarGregory Karp Author Avatar
Feb 29, 2024 10:11 a.m. PST
Edited by
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4.2

NerdWallet rating
The bottom line:

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

Pros
  • Anniversary perk
  • No reward caps
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • Rewards have limited flexibility
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Image
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Annual Fee

$69

Regular APR

21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec. credit score

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$69

Regular APR

21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
  • Annual fee

    $69

  • Rewards rate

    1x-2x

  • Bonus offer

    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.

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

More details from Chase
  • 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
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Member FDIC

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$69
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$149
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$99
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
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Detailed review: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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 the black sheep of the clan either.

After all, the three Southwest cards offer the same APR and sign-up bonus, which gives you a nice boost toward earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass (or during some promotions, a first-year Companion Pass included after required spending.) 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 or ongoing rewards rate. 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: Basics

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $69.

Sign-up 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.

Rewards:

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

  • 2 points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.

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

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.5 cents or more in value from your Southwest points.

Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 21.49%-28.49% Variable APR.

Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Other benefits:

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

  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.

Calculate your rewards

To see if the rewards you'd earn on this card would make up for the annual fee, try our calculator:

Benefits and perks

Low annual fee

The $69 annual fee is relatively low for an airline card with a healthy sign-up bonus and ongoing bonus rewards on airline purchases. 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

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.

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.)

🤓Nerdy Tip

Southwest Airlines credit cards don't offer free checked bags as many airline credit cards do, but your first two checked bags already are free with Southwest.

Drawbacks and considerations

Fewer perks than other Southwest cards

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns 3,000 anniversary points, half as many as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Based on point valuation, the difference in the anniversary bonus is more than enough to offset the difference in annual fees between those two cards, making the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card the worse deal.

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 and four upgraded boardings when available (those are worth $30 to $50 per flight).

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 pay for.

Here's a look at how the three Southwest consumer cards compare:

Empty Table Header

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee

$149.

$99.

$69.

Rewards on Southwest purchases

3 points per $1 spent.

3 points per $1 spent.

2 points per $1 spent.

Rewards on other spending

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on local transit, rideshares, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Sign-up 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.

Anniversary bonus

Earn 7,500 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earn 6,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earn 3,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earns tier qualifying points?

Yes (unlimited).

Yes (unlimited).

No.

Foreign transaction fees

None.

None.

3%.

Boarding perks

4 upgraded boardings per year when available.

2 EarlyBird check-ins per year.

2 EarlyBird check-ins per year.

Southwest travel credit

$75 per year.

None.

None.

Other cards earn more

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, local transit, rideshare, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming. Those rewards aren't bad, but even the most enthusiastic Southwest flyer might be better off with a card that earns more robust rewards.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee and earns rewards on a variety of useful categories:

  • 5 points per dollar on travel booked through Chase.

  • 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases.

  • 2 points per dollar on travel not purchased through Chase.

  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

Better yet: The rewards you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be transferred to Southwest.

Foreign transaction fee

The 3% foreign transaction fee makes the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card a poor choice to use during an international trip. Neither of the pricier Southwest cards charges a foreign transaction fee.

See how this card stacks up against competitors by visiting NerdWallet's roundup of airline credit cards. Also check out our best credit cards page for other offers.

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards
Elevated earning in popular categories

Earn bonus rewards in categories such as travel and dining. Those 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.

How to decide if it's 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 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, consider other options.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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