The ultimate guide to Southwest credit card eligibility

Oct 26, 2021

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Right now, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card are offering sign-up bonuses of up to 100,000 bonus points:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • 50,000 additional points after spending $12,000 total on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening

Southwest credit cards continue to be fan favorites — in no small part because their bonuses represent the fastest way to earn the famed Southwest Companion Pass. So it’s important to know whether you’re eligible.

There are three specific rules to watch out for when eyeing a Southwest credit card. Here’s what you need to know.

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You'll now be able fly from Reno to Dallas on Southwest Airlines. Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.
(Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

How to Tell Which Southwest Credit Cards You Are Eligible For

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Here’s your cheat sheet for applying for Southwest credit cards. You have five options to pick from — three personal and two business:

Personal cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Business cards:

Chase and Southwest have made this process relatively simple by treating all personal cards the same and all business cards the same when it comes to eligibility.

If you want to apply for a personal card:

You are eligible to do so as long as you abide by the following rules:

  • The Chase 5/24 rule: You’ll almost certainly be rejected for a Southwest credit card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any bank) within the past 24 months — excluding most business cards.
  • Card “family” restrictions: If you’ve already got a Southwest personal card, you can’t open another until you’ve canceled your current card.
  • Sign-up bonus rules: You can’t open the card if you’ve earned a sign-up bonus from a Southwest personal card within the past 24 months

The important note here is that having a Southwest business credit card doesn’t impact your eligibility for personal cards in any way.

If you want to apply for a business card:

You are eligible to do so as long as you are under 5/24 and are not:

a) A current holder of that specific card

b) A previous holder of that specific card who received a welcome bonus in the last 24 months

Applying for personal Southwest credit cards has no impact on your eligibility for business cards, except for the fact that it takes up one of your 5/24 slots. More importantly, having one business credit card doesn’t affect your eligibility for the other.

With all this information in hand, how should you go about maximizing your Southwest card apps? Assuming you have a 5/24 slot to spare, the best plan for most people would be to apply for both Southwest business credit cards. Doing so wouldn’t increase your 5/24 count and would keep you eligible to apply for a personal Southwest card in the future. Assuming both applications are approved, the combined sign-up bonuses would qualify you for the Southwest Companion Pass.

Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Bottom line

It’s always important to plan your credit card applications and pay attention to card and issuer-specific rules. While Chase’s decision to introduce a so-called “family restriction” on the personal Southwest cards threw a wrench into many people’s Companion Pass plans, the same restriction doesn’t apply to the two business cards.

Remember, all three Southwest personal credit cards are offering an elevated sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 bonus points:

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening

Let us know if you decide to apply — and if you have any other questions!

Apply here: Southwest Plus Credit Card
Apply here: Southwest Premier Credit Card
Apply here: Southwest Priority Credit Card
Apply here: Southwest Premier Business Credit Card
Apply here: Southwest Performance Business Credit Card

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor and Joseph Hostetler.

Featured image by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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