The best Southwest Airlines credit cards in 2021

This page is a marketplace where our partners can highlight their current card offers. The reviews and insights represented are editorial, but the order in which cards appear on the page may be influenced by compensation we may receive from our partners.

Travelers around the country love Southwest Airlines for its no-fuss attitude, family-friendly seating policy, strong route network (which even includes international destinations and Hawaii), included two free checked bags, absence of change fees and its easy-to-use Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. And that’s not even to mention its Companion Pass. Here is the current lineup of the  best credit cards from our partners for Southwest flyers, their bonus offers and our ranking of which one is the best fit for different types of Southwest flyers.

Best all-around travel card
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4.5/5
2 - 5X points
more info
  • 5X Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on dining.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • 5X Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on dining.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 points
details Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
60,000 points
$95

Why we chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit card on the market. Offering an excellent return on travel and dining purchases, the card packs a ton of value that easily offsets its $95 annual fee. Cardholders can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel booked through Chase or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 valuable airline and hotel partners.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2x on all other travel and 1x on everything else.
  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,200.
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance.

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.

Pros

  • You’ll earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online grocery store purchases, 2x on all other travel and 1x on everything else.
  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,200.
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance.

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee.
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Best for frequent Southwest flyers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3.5/5
2 - 3X points
more info
  • 3X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 3X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
100,000 points
details Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
100,000 points
$149

Why we chose it

While other airlines’ top credit cards have annual fees toppling over $500 per year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card comes with just a $149 annual per year. If Southwest is your airline of choice, you’ll receive a number of perks every year: a $75 Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings (upon availability) and 7,500 points on your cardmember anniversary. These benefits alone make up the annual fee for frequent Southwest flyers. For every $10,000 spent on this card, you’ll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points, fast-tracking your way to A-List Status.

Pros

  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit.
  • Four upgraded boardings every year
  • 7,500 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • 20% inflight discount on food, drinks and WiFi.
  • Ability to earn A-List status faster by spending on this card
  • Travel and purchase protections through Chase.

Cons

  • $149 annual fee.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.

Pros

  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit.
  • Four upgraded boardings every year
  • 7,500 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • 20% inflight discount on food, drinks and WiFi.
  • Ability to earn A-List status faster by spending on this card
  • Travel and purchase protections through Chase.

Cons

  • $149 annual fee.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
Best for casual Southwest flyers
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
2X points
more info
  • 2X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
100,000 points
details Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
100,000 points
$99

Why we chose it

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is one of the best sub-$100 annual fee card in part to its generous sign-up bonus. You’ll earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months. Since TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, the full bonus is worth $1,500. You’ll also receive 6,000 bonus points upon card renewal, among travel and purchase protections that make this card a solid pick for seldom Southwest flyers.

Pros

  • 6,000 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • Travel and purchase protections through Chase.

Cons

  • $99 annual fee.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.

Pros

  • 6,000 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • Travel and purchase protections through Chase.

Cons

  • $99 annual fee.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
1 - 4X points
more info
  • 4X New! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • 1X 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4X New! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 3X Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • 1X 1X points on all other purchases.
80,000 points
details Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
80,000 points
$199

Why we chose it

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card is ideal for business travelers and loyal Southwest flyers interested in hitting A-List status or earning a Companion Pass.

Pros

  • 9,000 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100).
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings a year.

Cons

  • $199 annual fee means only those loyal to Southwest will truly benefit
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • New! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit.

Pros

  • 9,000 points on each cardmember anniversary.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit (up to $100).
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings a year.

Cons

  • $199 annual fee means only those loyal to Southwest will truly benefit
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • New! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit.
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
2X points
more info
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
100,000 points
details Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
Intro Bonus tooltip Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
100,000 points
$69

Why we chose it

The Southwest Plus credit card is a great starter card for those who are loyal to the carrier. It has a solid up to 100,000-point sign-up bonus and the chance to earn the coveted and lucrative Companion Pass. A shiny new sign-up bonus is more than enough reason to apply for a card, but like many cobranded airline cards, this one can’t hold its own when it comes to return on spend and travel perks offered.

Pros

  • Earn 3,000 points each year after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Secondary car rental insurance and collision damage waiver.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Up to $3,000 in reimbursement for lost luggage.
  • Roadside dispatch.
  • Travel accident insurance via Visa Signature.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection.

Cons

  • $69 annual fee.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Flight redemption limited to U.S., Caribbean and Central American destinations.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.

Pros

  • Earn 3,000 points each year after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Secondary car rental insurance and collision damage waiver.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
  • Up to $3,000 in reimbursement for lost luggage.
  • Roadside dispatch.
  • Travel accident insurance via Visa Signature.
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection.

Cons

  • $69 annual fee.
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Flight redemption limited to U.S., Caribbean and Central American destinations.
  • Our best points offer ever! Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • Now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
Best for businesses that need lower annual fee
TPG Editor's Rating tooltip Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3/5
1 - 3X points
more info
  • 3X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 3X New! Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • 2X New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1X 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
60,000 points
details Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Intro Bonus tooltip Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
60,000 points
$99

Why we chose it

The Southwest Premier Business card is ideal for Southwest loyalists who value airport and inflight perks and the ability to add employee cards at no additional cost.

Pros

  • 6,000 bonus Southwest points every card anniversary.
  • Primary rental car insurance.
  • Lost luggage and trip protection benefits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • $99 annual fee isn't for everyone.
  • Limited to redeeming for Southwest only.
  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn unlimited tier qualifying points towards A-List status.

Pros

  • 6,000 bonus Southwest points every card anniversary.
  • Primary rental car insurance.
  • Lost luggage and trip protection benefits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • $99 annual fee isn't for everyone.
  • Limited to redeeming for Southwest only.
  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • New! 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn unlimited tier qualifying points towards A-List status.

The best Southwest Airlines credit cards in 2021

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Card Best for Welcome Offer/Sign Up Bonus Earning Rate Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Best all-around travel card 60,000 points
  • Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3X points on dining.
  • Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
$95
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Best for frequent Southwest flyers 100,000 points
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
$149
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Best for casual Southwest flyers 100,000 points
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
$99
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Best for a lower annual fee 100,000 points
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • New! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
$69
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Best for small-business owners 80,000 points
  • New! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • 1X points on all other purchases.
$199
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Best for businesses that need lower annual fee 60,000 points
  • New! Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
  • New! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
$99

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

This card is offering up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

The Priority card comes with a $149 annual fee. That’s the highest annual fee of the personal Southwest cards, but the card’s annual $75 credit drops that to $74 if you make full use of it. At that price, it’s cheaper than the Premier credit card and has the best perks of the bunch, making it my top pick of the personal cards for those who actively fly Southwest.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card awards 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards points at each account anniversary (worth $112.50 by TPG calculations); an annual $75 annual Southwest travel credit; 25% back on inflight drinks, Wi-Fi, messaging and movies; and four Upgraded Boardings in the A1–A15 position each year (worth up to $50 each).

Note that upgraded boarding is only available the day of travel, and is not the same thing as Southwest’s EarlyBird Check-In that sells for $15+ per person per flight.

Read our full review of the Southwest Priority Card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

This card is also offering up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

This is a solid, middle-of-the-road Southwest card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and can help you earn tier-qualifying points for A-List status, but keeps the annual fee under $100. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card awards 6,000 bonus points at each account anniversary (worth $90 by TPG valuations). It’s a very solid choice, especially while it has the same sign-up bonus as the higher annual fee card.

Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

The more entry-level Southwest personal card also awards up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months. This card does not come with nearly as many perks as the others, but the annual fee is lower and right now the sign-up bonus is the same.

Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

If you are after more points out of your sign-up bonus, then you may decide that the Southwest small-business cards have better bonuses and perks than the personal cards. If you are eligible to open a small-business card, this is the one to get. The Southwest Performance Business Card is offering 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. It also awards 9,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after each account anniversary and comes with a $199 annual fee.

With the card, you’ll also get four A1–A15 boarding passes per year, up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year (covers all day), a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit every four years(Up to $100), 4x points on Southwest Airlines purchases and more.

The 80,000 bonus points alone can get you pretty close to earning the 125,000 points needed to earn the coveted  Companion Pass both in the year you earn it and the entire next year, too! (Keep in mind that Southwest gave Rapid Rewards members a 25,000 point headstart on earning the Companion Pass in 2021.)

Read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

This card awards 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. It also comes with 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points awarded after each account anniversary and a $99 annual fee.

TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points valued at 1.5 cents apiece, so by those calculations, 60,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points are worth $900.

Here’s how to earn the Companion Pass with the help of any of the cobranded credit cards.

Related: Comparing the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, Premier and Plus credit cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve

All the cards discussed so far are Southwest-specific credit cards, which are indeed useful to regular Southwest travelers and those hoping to earn a valuable Companion Pass. However, not everyone who travels on Southwest needs a credit card unique to that airline. Frequent flyers who occasionally find themselves on Southwest might be well served with a more flexible card, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve.

All the cards discussed so far are Southwest-specific credit cards, which are indeed useful to regular Southwest travelers and those hoping to earn a valuable Companion Pass. However, not everyone who travels on Southwest needs a credit card unique to that airline. Frequent flyers who occasionally find themselves on Southwest might be well served with a more flexible card, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns 3 points per dollar on all dining and travel charges. On top of that, you can transfer the points earned by this card from Chase to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio, use the points at a fixed rate of 1.5 cents each to book Southwest flights as “paid” flights over the phone via Chase Travel and even use the annual $300 travel credit toward Southwest EarlyBird fees, onboard drinks and snacks, etc.

This card won’t help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass because transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards don’t count toward the points needed to earn the pass, but the card is still a great choice for frequent flyers.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is a lot like the Sapphire Reserve, only with a (much) lower annual fee of $95. This card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and 3 points per dollar on dining and those Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. This means that the 60,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening can all be transferred to Ultimate Rewards if you choose. This card is a solid all-around travel rewards card for those who find themselves on a variety of airlines.

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Related: How to get the best seats on Southwest Airlines

Southwest Companion Pass factor

Families, couples and others considering a Southwest credit card should absolutely factor earning and using the Southwest Companion Pass into their calculations. A Southwest Companion Pass allows the passholder to designate one person to fly for free with them (other than paying taxes) for the life of the pass.

Having the Southwest Companion Pass basically turns your Southwest tickets into buy-one, get-one deals for you and your designated companion. To earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you need to earn 125,000 eligible Southwest Rapid Rewards points or take 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year.

Due to COVID-19, Southwest Airlines has extended the timeframe for the Companion Pass. Those that would have normally expired at the end of 2020 are now valid through Dec. 31, 2021. Additionally, Southwest has deposited 25,000 points toward the Companion Pass into accounts for 2021.

Not all Rapid Rewards points count toward earning the Companion Pass.

For example, purchased points and transfers to Southwest Rapid Rewards from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program (and cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card) do not count toward earning the Companion Pass. However, the sign-up bonus points and the points earned from everyday spending on the five Southwest cobranded credit cards do count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. 

Since the Companion Pass points calendar resets on Jan. 1 of every year, you’ll want to time your credit card applications wisely so that you don’t accidentally fall short of earning a Southwest Companion Pass. With the massive sign-up bonus currently available from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, you could theoretically come more than halfway to earning the pass just from the 80,000 total bonus points, plus the points earned by meeting the spending to trigger the bonus. Here’s more on that strategy.

And yes — the Companion Pass works to bring a friend or family member to Hawaii.

Which Southwest credit card are you eligible for?

When deciding which Southwest credit card is right for your family, be sure you are eligible to receive the card you want. It can get tricky with Chase’s general application restrictions, including the issuer’s infamous 5/24 rule and the terms on each specific card.

The terms on the three personal Southwest credit cards state:

“The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapids Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.”

In practical terms, this means you cannot get approved for a new Southwest personal credit card if you currently hold one and/or received a new cardmember bonus for one in the last two years. This only refers to primary account holders, so if you were just an authorized user on someone’s Southwest card, that should not hurt your chances of getting your own card.

Note that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card are viewed differently than the personal cards: Having one of them now, or in the past, does not disqualify you from getting a personal Southwest credit card. Additionally, having one of the small-business cards does not disqualify you from having or getting the other.

You do need a small business to open a Southwest business card but keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be a huge small business. Your legit side hustle may need a credit card to keep expenses separate.

Who should get a Southwest credit card?

There are several really good reasons to get a Southwest credit card. Anyone who wants a nice shot of Southwest bonus points in their Rapid Rewards account is a good candidate.

Finally, Southwest credit cards offer some great perks for regular, and even occasional, Southwest flyers. Wi-Fi passes, A1-A15 boarding positions, travel credits, discounts on inflight purchases and more go a long way toward making flying Southwest even better.

Or, if a more flexible credit card makes the most sense for you, you can get a Chase Sapphire card that allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points into Rapid Rewards points without committing 100% to the Rapid Rewards program.

Bottom line

Every family’s travel needs, goals and budget are unique, so there will never be a one-size-fits-all credit card.

However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card gets my vote as the personal card offering most perks and benefits for those who fly Southwest. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is a great choice for those in the market for a small business card with a massive sign-up bonus.

For those who just occasionally find themselves on Southwest, a more flexible card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card might be ideal.

But with a special Companion Pass on the line with the sign-up bonuses, if you are just about ready to fly once again, now is an excellent time to strike while those bonuses are available.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon, Daniel Ross and Benét J. Wilson

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy.

Updated 10/20/21.

Madison covers all things credit cards for TPG. A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, her travel bucket list includes swimming with sharks off the coast of South Africa, skydiving in Thailand and cliff jumping in Greece.
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