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

Offer expired March 9, 2014.

Chase has relaunched limited-time offers of 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points for the Southwest Premier and Plus Visas  – both the personal and business version of the Premier and the personal and Business Plus card. To get the full bonus on any of these cards, you must spend $2,000 within 3 months of account opening. And remember, these bonus points count towards the holy grail of travel rewards – the Southwest Companion Pass – and now is a great time to accrue the 110,000 points you need to get it since it will be good through the rest of 2014 and 2015.

Chase periodically runs this bonus, but you never know if it will come back again. Amex used to always run transfer bonuses to Delta, but then stopped on day and we haven’t seen one in almost two years. My guess is that these offers will come back again, but possibly not until later in 2014.

The difference between the two cards is that there is a $99 fee on the Premier card and $69 fee on the Plus card. The Premier comes with 6,000 points every anniversary (~$108 in Wanna Get Away fares) and the Plus gets 3,000 ($54 in Wanna Get Away fares).

I’ve written many times about this offer – basically it is marketed as 2 roundtrip flights, but you are actually getting 50,000 Rapid Rewards points. Southwest points cannot be transferred to other frequent flyer or hotel programs and the only partner airline you can redeem on is Airtran, which was acquired by Southwest in 2010.

In terms of redeeming for award seats, with Wanna Get Away fares, 60 points = $1 (until the devaluation March 31, 2014 after which you’ll need 70 points per $1), so that means you can get up to almost $900 in fares with a single sign-up bonus alone.

Chase will allow you to get the sign-up bonus for each card, so you might want to consider also applying for the business version of the Premier or the Business Plus card if you have a small business. Many readers have reported that it is possible to get both in one day, so you can bank up to 100,000 points. Or if you already have one version of a card (the Plus or Premier) you could get the other to bank up 50,000 points.

Where this gets really interesting, though, is that these bonus points count towards Southwest’s Companion Pass qualification, which is one of the best frequent flyer program benefits out there. There are two ways to qualify for a Companion Pass. Either fly 100 one-way flights within a calendar year or accrue 110,000 points in a calendar year (every January your qualifying points reset to 0) – this includes flights, credit card – including credit card sign-up bonuses – and partner activity like hotel stays/transfers and rental cars. So with the $2,000 in minimum spend on two cards plus the 50,000 point bonuses, you’re looking at 104,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and you only need 110,000 to get the pass.

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.

Now is a great time for this strategy in particular because if you do manage to get the Companion Pass quickly, it will be good for almost two years until the end of 2015 – representing a potentially tremendous value in both saved money and points.

What is a Companion Pass worth? The value of your pass is equal to the value of the dollars and points that you would spend on Southwest flights during the valid period of your pass. So if you are only planning a couple trips in the next few years, your value will be limited. However, if you and your companion travel extensively, or if you tend to commute between cities a lot, your pass could be worth thousands of dollars.

To put it in perspective, it would take $18,333 worth of flights in the “Wanna Get Away” fare class to earn the 110,000 points necessary for the Companion Pass just by flying. If you were to pay for those tickets with cash, it would cost an additional $18,333 to add a companion (or more if there is not always another seat available at the same fare class). Therefore, you would save at least $18,333 by starting off with a Companion Pass beforehand.

To look at it another way, if you were to earn the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass, and just use all of those points to fly with a companion on Wanna Get Away fares – where your points are worth about 1.8 cents each – then the pass would be worth about $1,800 in free travel. Either way, you’re looking at some great values.

Even if you don’t want the companion pass, 50,000 Rapid Rewards points are worth almost $900 in Wanna Get Away fares, so it is one of the most solid credit card offers on the market if you fly Southwest. Check out these posts for more information on maximizing the offer:

For more information, check out these posts:

Maximize Monday: Southwest Companion Pass FAQ And Strategies
Top 11 Ways To Top Up Your Account For The Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest Points vs. Southwest Credits: When Transferring Makes Sense and How to Check Availability
Can I Get Two Southwest Cards In One Day To Qualify For A Companion Pass

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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