Southwest 50,000 Bonus and AirTran 32 A+ Points Bonuses Rundown – Which Card Should You Get?

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Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.

With the 50,000-point sign-up bonus on the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the AirTran Airways A+ Rewards Credit Card with 32 A+ points both available, you might be wondering which card to get. As a reminder, here are the terms of the two cards.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card:

  • Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. Government fees as low as $10 not included.
  • Get 6,000 points every year after your Cardmember Anniversary – that’s enough for a $100 Wanna Get Away? Fare
  •  2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and AirTran purchases made directly with the airlines and on Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases. Get up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually.
  • Redeem points for Gift Cards, Car Rentals, Cruises, Hotel Stays, and International flights to over 800 Destinations on 50+ global carriers.
  • $99 annual fee, not waived

Air Tran Airways A+ Rewards Credit Card:

  • 32 A+ Rewards credits when you spend $2,000 in 3 months as well as two single-segment business class upgrades with your first purchase.
  • 2 A+ Rewards Credits every year after your cardmember Anniversary.
  • 2 A+ Rewards Dollars per $1 spent on AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines purchases made directly with the airlines.
  • 1 A+ Rewards Dollar per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Annual fee of $69.

Why You Should Get The Southwest Card
Here’s why getting these cards now might be a good idea for you. In terms of Southwest, one of the most incredible airline frequent flyer perks out there is the Southwest Companion pass, which lets a companion fly free with you – whether you pay for a ticket or use points!

You get the companion pass with 110,000 in points in a calendar year, so if you got the personal and business cards  at 50,000 points each and were able to make the $2,000 spending requirement on each, you’d already be 95% of the way toward earning your companion pass without even setting foot on a plane! To get the remaining points 10,000 points, you can spend on the card or transfer in points from Southwest’s hotel program partners. The major trick here is to get the cards now, but don’t meet the spend requirement until early 2013. If you get the companion pass in January 2013, it will be good for 2 years!

Reasons to consider Southwest as your main carrier is that they allow 2 free checked bags per person on all flights and there are no change or cancellation fees on tickets (you get your money back in the form of an airline voucher). Plus, points don’t expire as long as you have any qualifying activity (a single credit card transaction) within 24 months

If you do apply for both the personal and business cards at the same time OR you apply for this credit card and the AirTran card at the same time, you might get turned down for one and have to call the reconsideration line, but reps are motivated to get you approved, so talking your way into both shouldn’t be too difficult. Note, if you already have or have recently had the Southwest Premier credit card, you most likely can’t get this product, but if you have a product by another name, like the Southwest Plus card, it is possible that you’d be eligible for this offer.

Why You Should Get The AirTran Card
You can apply for a personal and business card from Chase the same day – though you might have to call the reconsideration line as I mentioned above if they reflexively reject you – so if you already have the Southwest personal card but want to get the business card and submit another application, you could consider this one as well.

However, if you’re going for just one personal credit card and are trying to decide between the Southwest Premier card and this AirTran one, there are a few things to consider. First, there is a  $30 difference in annual fees – not a huge amount, but something to keep in mind.

Second, the Southwest card’s 50,000-point sign-up bonus is equivalent to $900 in Wanna Getaway fares and will count toward the Companion Pass, whereas the 32 A+ Rewards with the AirTran card will not, even if you convert those credits into Southwest points. AirTran also has a companion pass, which requires 100 A+ Credits – the equivalent of spending $60,000 on the airline, or $120,000 on other things on the credit card, so it’s a bit more of a stretch. For more information on transferring A+ credits to Southwest and vice versa, check out this post.

However, if you’re a frequent AirTran flyer, it could make sense to get this card, since the airline’s A+ program probably won’t be around a year from now as the airline’s merger with Southwest is completed and the two merge their mileage programs. So you can score the AirTran bonus now, and then once the A+ program ends and the bonuses on the Southwest cards are back up to 50,000 points, you can apply for those cards then.  Plus, whereas Southwest’s strength is in its domestic route map, AirTran has some great destinations outside the US including the Caribbean and Mexico so you can take advantage of your new A+ Credits to book some sunny vacations once you hit that minimum spend – and even fly business class using those free upgrades.

All in all, these are two pretty great offers considering the low minimum spend and the fact that you could get both bonuses over time if you play your cards right…so to speak.

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