The ultimate guide to Southwest credit card eligibility

Feb 17, 2021

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Cobranded airline credit cards generally have a tough time competing with the flexibility and benefits of transferable bank cards (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card). However, Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, both personal and business, continue to be fan favorites — in no small part because they represent the fastest way to earn Southwest’s famed Companion Pass.

But over the past several years, issuers have continued to change their rules and restrictions on who can earn new sign-up bonuses. This is further complicated by Chase’s longstanding 5/24 rule, which states that you’ll automatically be rejected for nearly all Chase credit cards if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months across all issuers.

Additionally, Chase has issued new “family restrictions” on how many cards of the same type you can have. These restrictions can make it confusing to know if you are eligible for a sign-up bonus or if you should hold off to apply for a certain card.

Today we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know to determine your eligibility to apply for any of Chase’s Southwest credit cards.

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

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

How to Tell Which Southwest Credit Cards You Are Eligible For

The good news is that figuring out which Southwest credit cards you are eligible for is a much, much simpler process than figuring out which Bonvoy credit cards you are eligible for. Before we get into the card-specific details, there are a few overarching rules to be aware of:

  • All five of these cards are subject to the 5/24 rule. You will be automatically rejected if you have opened more than five credit cards in the last 24 months across all issuers (though most business cards don’t count).
  • However, the business cards won’t add to your 5/24 count, so if you plan on applying for multiple cards (in pursuit of the Companion Pass), you should apply for the business cards first.
  • If you already have a specific card or held a card and received the bonus on it in the last 24 months, you are not eligible to apply for it again. (These are the “family restrictions.”)

With that out of the way, 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:

Business cards:

Chase and Southwest have made this process relatively simply 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 are under 5/24 and are not:

a) a current holder of any personal Southwest credit card, or

b) a previous holder of any personal Southwest credit card who received a welcome bonus in the last 24 months

This means that if you have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card or previously had the card (and received a bonus on it in the last 24 months), you are not eligible to apply for either the Premier or Priority cards. The important note here is that having a Southwest business credit card doesn’t impact your eligibility for personal cards in any way.

All three personal Southwest cards are currently offering a welcome bonus of 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

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. This is great news for any current or previous cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: They are still eligible to apply for the Performance business card (as long as they are under 5/24).

With all this information in hand, how should you go about maximizing your Southwest card apps? Assuming you have 5/24 slots 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 welcome bonuses would also qualify you for the Southwest Companion Pass.

Keep in mind that the current sign-up bonus across all three of Southwest’s personal credit cards is a 30,000-point bonus and a Companion Pass that is valid through Feb. 28, 2022, after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. That means you could earn a Companion Pass (though this one would be valid for a shorter amount of time than one earned through the standard method) outright with just one personal card application.

Related: It’s back! Earn a Companion Pass with the new sign-up bonus on these Southwest cards

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. It’s certainly possible that Chase will impose a similar restriction in the future on the business cards, so if you’re under 5/24 and eyeing a Companion Pass, I would strongly suggest applying sooner rather than later.

Related: Which Southwest Credit Card Should I Get?

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.

Featured image by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy. 

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