Key takeaways

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card members receive 3,000 bonus points each year after their account anniversary, a bonus that on its own goes a long way to offsetting the annual fee.
  • Additional perks such as two EarlyBird Check-Ins annually and discounts on eligible in-flight purchases offer more money-saving opportunities to cardholders.
  • The $69 annual fee is the lowest among the Southwest co-branded cards issued by Chase.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is one of several Southwest cards offered among Chase’s line up of co-branded credit cards. The Plus card charges the lowest annual fee among the five Southwest cards Chase issues — just $69 — but comes with some attractive perks that help offset even that modest annual fee.

This Southwest Plus credit card also makes it easy to earn points for each dollar you spend, both on airfare and everyday purchases. Plus, you can qualify for perks like two EarlyBird Check-Ins with the airline each year, 25 percent back on in-flight purchases and an anniversary bonus each year the card is renewed.

The anniversary bonus is an especially great way to guarantee you’re getting value from this card long term. Here’s more about how it works and how you can decide if the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card is right for you.

Details of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Here’s a rundown of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card’s rewards rate, welcome offer and notable benefits:

  • Welcome bonus.Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Rewards. 2X points on Southwest purchases; Southwest hotel and car rental partner purchases; local transit and commuting (including rideshares); internet, cable and phone services; and select streaming services; and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Annual fee. $69 annual fee
  • Variable APR. 21.49 percent to 28.49 percent
  • Major benefits. 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins with the airline each year, 25 percent back on eligible in-flight purchases and a 3,000-point anniversary bonus

The airline offers some serious benefits beyond earning points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. For starters, Southwest has one of the most flexible cancellation and rebooking policies of all major airlines. Plus, they are one of the few airlines that don’t impose any blackout dates or capacity controls for award tickets.

Southwest Airlines also offers two free checked bags per passenger on their flights, whether you book your fare with cash or points.

Finally, not only can you earn 50,000 points (after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months), but those points, as well as others earned with your regular spending, count toward earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass allows you to bring a companion along on your flights, whether paying with cash or points, for the remainder of the year in which you earn the pass as well as the following full calendar year. All you’ll pay are required taxes and fees, which come to $5.60 each way for domestic flights and a bit more for international destinations.

You earn a Companion Pass by accumulating 135,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year or by taking 100 one-way flights in that same time frame. For many people, that isn’t realistic with regular travel, but Southwest credit cardholders get a leg up. All the points earned by spending on your card, as well as welcome bonuses and anniversary bonuses, count toward your Companion Pass total.

What is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus anniversary bonus?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus anniversary bonus is 3,000 points automatically applied to your account each year after your card member anniversary. Southwest extends this bonus as a “thank you” for renewing your card and paying the $69 annual fee for another year.

How much is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus anniversary bonus worth?

According to Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations, rewards earned in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program are worth up to 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel. This means the anniversary bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card can be worth up to $45, depending on how and when you redeem your points.

While 3,000 points may not sound like a lot, keep in mind that Southwest offers one-way fares for as little as 4,000 points (and sometimes less) during sale periods. Given that, this card’s anniversary bonus could be enough to get you from New York City to Orlando or from Atlanta to Chicago, based on sample searches for October 2023.

How do I find my Southwest Rapid Rewards account anniversary date?

You can look back at your statement history to estimate when you’ll receive your Southwest anniversary bonus. According to the fine print from Southwest and Chase, you’ll receive this bonus on your account anniversary year, which is “the year beginning with your account open date through the anniversary of your account open date, and each 12 months.”

If you originally signed up for your card on May 12 of any given year, for example, you’ll receive your anniversary bonus after May 12 of the following year.

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Keep in mind: Another way to estimate this is noticing when your annual fee hits your account, as that signals it’s the start of another account year.

Other cardholder perks that make up for the annual fee

While the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus bonus may be worth up to $45 depending on how you redeem, a few other cardholder benefits also help make up for this card’s $69 annual fee.

For starters, you can get two EarlyBird Check-Ins with Southwest every year. These upgrades are worth $15 to $25 one way, so the two you receive every year as a cardholder have a retail value of up to $50. These passes plus the annual points bonus more than offset the annual fee.

But there’s still more savings available. Cardholders enjoy 25 percent back on in-flight purchases of food, drink and Wi-Fi access. These savings on in-flight amenities can add up quickly if you fly with Southwest often.

The bottom line

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus allows you to earn Rapid Rewards points on your everyday purchases, earn an anniversary bonus and enjoy other perks and features all for a reasonable annual fee. When you add up the value of the Southwest anniversary bonus, two EarlyBird Check-Ins and discounts on in-flight purchases (not to mention the rewards you’ll earn on everyday spending), you can more than make up for this card’s $69 annual fee each year.

That said, you can also consider other Southwest credit cards, and don’t forget that Southwest is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means you can use a travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn flexible points on purchases, then transfer them to your Southwest account once you’re ready to redeem.