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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
If you’re not a fan of checking in for your Southwest flight right at 24 hours prior to departure, Southwest offers a service called EarlyBird Check In that automatically checks you into your flight at 36 hours to departure. This ensures that you get the best possible boarding position — meaning a better seat selection — without the hassle of battling other travelers right at the start of the 24-hour check-in window.
Originally introduced in 2009 at $10 each way, EarlyBird Check In now costs $15 each way. But that flat pricing model is being eliminated in under two weeks. In a Southwest memo leaked to The Points Guy, we find that Southwest is moving to a dynamic pricing model for this service. Starting August 29, prices will range from the current $15 up to as much as $25 each way.
The pricing “will depend on a combination of two factors: length of route and EarlyBird demand on that particular route.” Prices will remain the same on any given route and “will not change by day of week or time of day.” Although, Southwest notes that it may “update pricing in the future based on route popularity and as the product continues to evolve.”
The good news in this announcement is that Southwest confirmed again its policy of not charging checked baggage fees for the first two bags:
Unlike our competitors, we provide our Customers the ability to choose products they are willing to pay for—like EarlyBird—instead of punitively charging a fee to check their first or second bag or change their reservation. Those fees don’t fly on Southwest Airlines, and we have no plans to change that.
What does this mean for Southwest flyers? If you’re a fan of EarlyBird Check In, you’re going to want to lock in the $15 each way price now before the change goes into effect on August 29. Since boarding positions are based on the purchase date/time, it makes sense to purchase this service as soon as you could — so don’t wait until August 28 to make the purchase. If you’re interested in doing so, head to this Southwest page to purchase the service.
It’s best to put the purchase on a card that offers bonus points/miles on the purchase. Your top options are:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x Membership Rewards on airfare)
- Citi Premier Card (3x ThankYou points)
- Citi Prestige (3x ThankYou points)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x Ultimate Rewards points; excluding $300 travel credit)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x Ultimate Rewards points)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card (2x Southwest points)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card (2x Southwest points)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (2x Southwest points)
Or, you can put the purchase on a card that reimburses miscellaneous airline fees such as:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($300 travel credit each calendar year)
- Citi Prestige ($250 airfare reimbursement)
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ($250 airline incidentals credit)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express ($200 airline fee reimbursement)
Featured image of a Southwest 737-700 taking off in Atlanta by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy
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Earn 2 points $1 on Southwest and Rapid Rewards car and hotel purchases and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. This card also comes with an annual $75 travel credit.
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
- $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees.