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Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card: An affordable way to earn points, now with a 75,000-point bonus

Nov. 05, 2022
9 min read
a southwest plane over the Chesapeake Bay at sunrise
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Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card on the market, which is either a strength or weakness depending on how you look at it.

While the $69 annual fee is affordable, the Plus card doesn’t have as many perks as its higher-priced counterparts to keep you interested past the initial welcome bonus. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

* Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

In a hobby now seemingly dominated by ultra-premium credit cards with $450-plus annual fees and laundry lists of luxury perks, it’s hard to imagine that a cobranded airline credit card with a $69 annual fee might be valuable to loyal Southwest customers, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card does make sense for some flyers — under the right conditions.

Southwest is already relatively unusual in that it offers three affordable personal credit cards. With all three cards currently offering identical 75,000-point welcome bonuses after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, it’s even more important to look at the differences among your three choices. These offers end Dec. 5, 2022.

Let’s take a look at how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and its perks measure up against its higher-end siblings.

Who is this card for?

This is not the card that’s going to unlock the doors of fancy first-class suites or give you all the trappings of elite status, but that’s never been what Southwest is about. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus offers solid points-earning rates and minimal benefits, but if you’re only flying Southwest occasionally, that’s really all you need.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more new credit card accounts (including being added as an authorized user) in the past 24 months, you likely won’t be approved for this card. If you are under the 5/24 threshold, remember that opening this card will count toward that limit, so make sure this specific product will be worth a slot.

BENÉT J. WILSON/THE POINTS GUY

There’s another limitation, though. If you currently hold any personal Southwest credit card — or earned a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card in the last 24 months — you won’t be eligible for the bonus on this card. Fortunately, this restriction is just on personal cards and doesn’t apply to Southwest business credit cards. This means you can have both a Southwest personal and a business card open simultaneously, which is something you might want to do (more about this below).

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Related: Battle of the airlines: Why I think Southwest Airlines is the best

Welcome offer: A quicker way to the Southwest Companion Pass

Whether you settle on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card or opt for one of its siblings (the mid-tier Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the top-tier Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card), you’ll earn the same sign-up bonus — 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Offer ends Dec. 5, 2022.

TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, making this sign-up bonus worth approximately $1,125.

ISABELLE RAPHAEL/THE POINTS GUY

What’s more, though, is that those 75,000 bonus points count toward earning the airline’s ultra-valuable Companion Pass, which is potentially worth thousands of dollars depending on how often you and a partner fly.

The Southwest Companion Pass is basically a two-for-one benefit that allows the holder to bring a designated friend or family member along on any Southwest flight they take. With the Companion Pass, you just pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket, sort of like you would on an award ticket. Even better, the Companion Pass can be applied to both paid and award tickets. So if you regularly fly with another person, this one perk can be very, very lucrative.

In order to attain the Southwest Companion Pass, you need to earn 135,000 qualifying points (up from 125,000 points; effective Jan. 1, 2023) or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. By earning the sign-up bonus with this card, you’re already more than halfway there.

While Southwest is raising the qualifying benchmark for the Companion Pass by 10,000 points from 2023, cobranded credit card holders will get a 10,000-point boost either at the beginning of the year (for existing cardholders) or within 30 days of opening an account (for new members).

So you'd earn 75,000 points with this sign-up bonus, plus 10,000 additional points, meaning you'd need 50,000 more to hit that qualifying threshold. Once you do your pass will be good for the rest of that calendar year and the following one.

Read more: 13 lessons from 13 years’ worth of Southwest Companion Passes

Main perks and benefits

The value of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card doesn’t just end with the sign-up bonus. Here are all of the perks you’ll get in exchange for its $69 annual fee:

  • Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird check-ins every card anniversary.
  • 3,000 bonus points each account anniversary year, worth about $45 by TPG valuations.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 per day for up to three days when your bags are delayed more than six hours.
  • 25% back on inflight purchases of drinks and Wi-Fi on Southwest Airlines flights.
  • Extended warranty protection: Up to one year added to eligible manufacturers’ warranties of three years or less.
  • Purchase protection: Up to $500 of damage or theft coverage for 120 days for eligible purchases you make on your card.

Earning and redeeming

Here are the current earning rates on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus:

  • 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting purchases, including ride-hailing services.
  • 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming service purchases.
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and those made with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

These bonus categories help make the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card a forerunner for everyday purchases.

While most of Southwest’s route network is concentrated on domestic U.S. flights, be warned that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card does have a 3% foreign transaction fee if you intend to use it for purchases made abroad.

Rapid Rewards offers a few low-value redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise, hotel stays, rental cars and travel experiences. You can even redeem for international flights on other carriers — but for all of these options, the rates are worse than what you’d get by redeeming for Southwest flights.

The airline offers four tiers of fares, ranging from the cheapest Wanna Get Away tickets to the more expensive Business Select ones with Wanna Get Away Plus and Anytime fares in between.

SOUTHWEST

The award rates are tied to the cash price of the tickets, unlike some other airlines that use fixed-value charts. This means you don’t have to worry too much about saving up for a good redemption opportunity. If you have Rapid Rewards points, it’s almost always a good idea to use them instead of holding them for future redemption.

Related: How to redeem points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program

How does the Southwest Plus card stack up?

The most obvious competitors to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card are the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. The Premier has a slightly higher annual fee of $99, plus a better anniversary points bonus (6,000 points) and a higher earning rate on Southwest purchases (3 points per dollar versus 2 points per dollar with the Plus) and waives foreign transaction fees.

If you’re interested in getting more out of your Southwest credit card, you should set your sights on the top-tier Priority Card. Your $149 annual fee is effectively cut in half thanks to a $75 annual Southwest travel credit. The Priority card confers all the benefits of the other two cards, but it has a 7,500-point anniversary bonus, plus four upgraded boardings per year and the ability to earn unlimited tier qualifying points toward elite status.

The question you ultimately need to answer for yourself is whether you want the cheapest Southwest card — or if you are willing to pay more money upfront and essentially have it returned to you in the form of Southwest travel credits and anniversary points bonuses. By answering that question, you should be able to figure out if the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus is the right card for you, or if you should opt for one of the airline’s higher-end products.

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

Bottom line

For only $69 per year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card comes with an enticing sign-up bonus that’s enough to make this card worth considering, especially for those who like Southwest but only fly with the airline occasionally.


Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card with 75,000 bonus points. Offer ends Dec. 5, 2022.


Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon and Christina Ly.

Featured image by SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
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Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees