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Chase and Southwest are out with new bigger bonuses for their Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards – and it turns out this is the perfect time strategically to benefit from this.
All three of their consumer cards have 75,000 bonus point offers after $3000 spending on purchases in the first three months. That’s 50% more points than the offer it replaces.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card This $149 annual fee 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 You earn 3,000 anniversary points each year on the $69 annual fee card.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card You earn 6,000 anniversary points each year (after your cardmember anniversary), a nice incentive to keep this $99 annual fee card, and you receive 2 EarlyBird Check-In® credits each year.
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.
But the real value here is earning a Companion Pass, and if you time it right you can nearly double how long that pass – which lets someone travel with you for just the cost of taxes – will last.
Companion Pass is becoming tougher to get next year but not for people who have a Southwest credit card. The requirement will go up from 125,000 qualifying points to 135,000 qualifying points – but cardmembers will get a 10,000 point boost which makes up for the difference.
This is the perfect time for a bigger Southwest initial bonus offer. Apply for the card now, earn the bonus in early 2023. When you earn a Companion Pass it’s valid for the entire rest of that calendar year and the full next calendar year. So you maximize the Companion Pass by qualifying early in the year. (I earned my current Companion Pass in January 2022, and it’s valid through December 2023.)
Companion Pass doubles the value of your points You can take a companion with you when you travel for just the cost of taxes whether you’re buying a paid ticket or one with points. When you redeem points for yourself, and use the companion pass, that’s twice as much travel – the points go twice as far.
In addition to card initial bonuses, card spending, Southwest flights, and lucrative hotel bookings through the Southwest portal all count towards Companion Pass.
According to the application pages, these elevated offers end at some point on December 5, 2022. Chase’s ‘5/24’ applies, so to be approved you likely need to have opened fewer than 5 new card accounts in the past 24 months. And to be approved for these cards you cannot be a current Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card (consumer) cardmember and you cannot have received an initial bonus for one of these cards in the past 24 months.
If you’re a semi-regular Southwest flyer then I consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to be by far the best deal. If you aren’t, and your key interest is that initial bonus (and the 10,000 point credit towards companion pass) then the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is your best bet.