Southwest plane taking off
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Southwest Airlines is considered one of the most family-friendly air carriers in the United States, and for good reason. Not only does Southwest have a generous cancellation and rebooking policy, they also allow two free checked bags per person, while boasting one of the most popular airline loyalty programs available – Southwest Rapid Rewards.

There are several easy ways to earn rewards, once you sign up for a free loyalty account. Two examples are shopping through their online portal, or signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards dining program.

Co-branded airline credit cards from Southwest and Chase also let you earn points for each dollar you spend, plus a big sign-up bonus. Here are the best credit cards to use for Southwest Airlines, along with a basic overview of how many points you can earn:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card currently offers up to 60,000 bonus points: earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. Additionally, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 in purchases within the first twelve months. You also earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and its hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

Additional details:

  • $99 annual fee
  • 6,000 points after your cardmember anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Redeem points for travel with Southwest, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus offers the same offer of up to 60,000 bonus points: 40,000 when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening plus an additional 20,000 points when you spend $12,000 within the first twelve months. You also earn 2 points per $1 spent with the airline and Southwest’s hotel and rental car partners and 1 point per $1 on everything else you buy.

Additional details:

  • $69 annual fee
  • 3,000 points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Redeem points for travel with Southwest, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

This card offers more perks for a higher annual fee. You start by earning up to 60,000 bonus points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening and an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within the first twelve months. But you also earn the standard 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest and its partners, and 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

Additional details:

  • $149 annual fee
  • Four upgraded boarding positions per year
  • $75 Southwest Airlines credit each year
  • 7,500 points after your cardmember anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Redeem points for travel with Southwest, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Best cards for earning tier status with Southwest

If you’re interested in pursuing elite status with Southwest, the Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card makes it easiest to work your way toward tier status. Once you have the card, you’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 you spend, up to $100,000 in purchases per year which equals a total of 15,000 TQPs every 12 months.

These TQPs can be used to earn one of the following positions:

Tier status How to earn it What you get
A-List Status Take 25 qualifying one-way flights within a calendar year, or earn 35,000 TQPs within a calendar year Priority boarding, 25% earning bonus, free same-day standby, priority check-in and security, dedicated phone line
A-List Preferred Take 50 qualifying one-way flights within a calendar year, or earn 70,000 TQPs within a calendar year Priority boarding, 100% earning bonus, free same-day standby, priority check-in and security, dedicated phone line, free in-flight wifi
Companion Pass Take 100 qualifying one-way flights within a calendar year, or earn 110,000 TQPs within a calendar year Your designated companion flies free for the rest of the year you earn the pass and the entire next year

Cards that let you transfer points to Southwest

In addition to co-branded Southwest Airlines credit cards, Chase offers several premier options that let you transfer what you earn to Southwest and other Chase Ultimate Rewards partners at a 1:1 ratio. In other words, you can sign up for these cards, earn rewards and move your points to the airline for free later on.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Earn 60,000 points right out of the gate. Although, you do have to spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening to qualify. You also earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

Additional details:

  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Transfer points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners
  • Redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Get considerably more perks for a higher annual fee. Once you sign up, this card gives you 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your card within three months. And you earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel (after earning your $300 annual travel credit) and dining and 1 point per $1 on other purchases.

Additional details:

  • $450 annual fee
  • $300 travel credit each year
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck Credit
  • Redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

This is a lucrative option for both self-employed workers and small business owners. Earn an initial 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 within three months of account opening. You also earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 you spend each year in popular business categories such as travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services. Plus 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Additional details:

  • $95 annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Redeem points for travel, gift cards, merchandise, and more

 

Bottom line

Whether you’re looking to reach tier status or transferring points from co-branded cards, Southwest Airlines offers a bevy of options by which you can earn rewards.

The information about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred Credit Cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.