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Southwest Airlines credit cards have been made >better in the past several months and currently have a great limited time initial offer. I was approved for one of these cards in the fall when there was a somewhat larger offer that required spending $12,000. Now they’re offering a lot more up front for modest spend. The offers at these links end at some point on July 11 but by end of day.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($149 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($99 annual fee)
Southwest Airlines is the largest carrier in my home airport. I used the points I earned with their credit card at the start of 2022 for a companion pass that will last through 2023. I buy my own ticket with cash (I earn elite status with the airline). Then my wife is my companion, so her ticket costs just the security taxes. And I book award travel for my daughter. Of course with a companion pass – earned after 125,000 points in a year – you can take someone with you even when booking an award for yourself.
Great Timing To Use These Offers For A Companion Pass
The timing for these offers is great because applying for a new card now allows you to time the earning of your initial bonus with much of 2022 still left. A Companion Pass lasts for the rest of the calendar year in which it is earned and for the entire next year.
I earned a Companion Pass in January 2020, that was then valid for all of 2020 and all of 2021. (Little did I know I wouldn’t get to use it as much as I’d hoped, thanks, pandemic) I earned another one at the start of 2022 valid through end of 2023.
A Companion Pass allows you you to bring a second person along with you on your travels – whether your ticket is paid for with cash or with points. You need to earn 125,000 eligible points in 2022 for a pass that will be valid through the end of 2023. And Southwest credit card initial bonuses and points-earning from spend on those cards count towards companion pass.
Details On The Three Southwest Consumer Cards
In the fall Southwest added features to each of its three consumer credit cards from Chase, and made similar changes to its corresponding small business cards. Here’s what you need to know about the three consumer products which have this big up front offer.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. This is the premium Southwest Airlines co-brand card really designed for folks who fly Southwest — it makes Southwest travel better, and spending helps earn both A-List status and a Companion Pass®. Now there’s also no cap on the elite qualifying points you can earn through spend as well (you earn 1500 qualifying points per $10,000 spend, calculated based on billing cycle end days).
Ongoing category bonus spend includes 3X points on Southwest® purchases; 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
The card provides a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year; 25% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies; and 4 upgraded Boardings per year when available (when A1-15 boarding positions are offered at the gate, buy it and you’ll receive a statement credit for the charge); and 7,500 anniversary points each year.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card This has the lowest annual fee of the three cards, but still has the same initial bonus offer right now.
Ongoing category bonus spend: 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; 2X points on Southwest purchases.
You earn 3,000 anniversary points each year, a nice incentive to keep the card. It also comes with 2 EarlyBird Check-In credits each year.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card The mid-tier card of the three has the same initial bonus offer as the other two, it offers a little more value than the base card, but it does feel a bit caught in the middle. It also comes with 2 EarlyBird Check-In credits each year.
Ongoing bonus category spend: 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
You earn 6,000 anniversary points each year (after your cardmember anniversary), a nice incentive to keep the card.
Here’s an infographic from Southwest sharing the new features of these cards:
Which Card To Get?
As I say I find the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to be best, since I’d use the benefits of the card flying Southwest. The annual travel credit alone makes the net cost to me similar to the lowest annual fee card offered, without even valuing its extra benefits.
However if you’re just looking at points versus annual fee then Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card becomes most attractive.
An Offer That Earns Even More
If you qualify for a small business card then the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card has an offer to earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Ongoing earn is 4X points on Southwest® purchases; 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners; 2X points on rideshare; 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases. These points count towards earning a companion pass.
Cardmembers receive 9000 bonus points each year after cardmember anniversary; a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees every four years; reimbursement for four upgraded boardings per year (A1 – A15 boarding purchased at the airport) when available; plus inflight wifi credits. That’s a package that makes the card’s $199 annual fee well worth it.
What I like about Southwest is that they have no change fees, you can use your points even to make a speculative booking. It’s always great to have Southwest points around, even if you book mostly international award tickets. You might need a domestic flight to get to the city your international award ticket leaves from. Or book the Southwest flight, and if award availability opens up to include a domestic flight on your other ticket, great, there’s no change fees. Southwest points are great insurance. They don’t have other fees either like checked bag fees or change fees.