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Southwest Airlines 50,000 Points Sign-Up Bonus Is Back

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Chase is once again offering an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 points for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card after you spend $2,000 in the first three months. This standard offer for this card is 25,000 miles after spending $1,000, so this larger bonus is doubly lucrative.

Here are the full details:

  • Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.
  • Get 6,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases made directly with the airline and on Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Redeem points for gift cards, car rentals, cruises, hotel stays and international flights to over 800 destinations on 50+ global carriers.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

In addition, you can earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend on the card, up to 15,000 points annually. Finally, you’ll receive 6,000 Rapid Rewards points each year on your account anniversary, which mostly offsets the $99 annual fee.

I value 50,000 Rapid Rewards points at about $650.

Southwest made some changes to the Rapid Rewards program earlier this year by introducing dynamic award pricing. However, the changes weren’t drastic, and haven’t largely affected the overall value. I list Rapid Rewards points at 1.3 cents apiece in my most recent valuations, so 50,000 points is worth at least $650. Southwest has been expanding its list of international destinations, so these points are increasingly useful even aside from domestic travel.

You can double the value of your Rapid Rewards points if you have the prized Southwest Companion Pass, which allows your companion to fly with you (almost) for free, even on award flights. To get the Companion Pass, you’ll need to earn 110,000 points in a calendar year, and sign-up bonuses from co-branded credit cards count toward that mark. That means earning the bonus from the Rapid Rewards Premier Card puts you almost half way toward Companion Pass status.

You can often find a similar offer for other co-branded Southwest cards, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card. Two of these bonuses in combination (plus points earned from a few flights or extra spending) offers a great shortcut to the Companion Pass. You can maximize the pass by earning it toward the beginning of the calendar year, but even if you earned it now, you’d have Companion Pass status through the end of 2016. Note that if you want to enjoy the pass through 2017, you’ll need to wait a bit to sign up.

Chase offers these 50,000-point sign-up bonuses periodically, but they’re unpredictable and usually only last for a few weeks. If the timing isn’t right for you now, my guess is that you’ll see them again, but possibly not until the end of 2015 or early 2016.

Check out these posts for more information on maximizing this offer and the Companion Pass: