Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
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If you live in a city served by Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card can help you earn free flights fast. The little brother to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card offers generous benefits and lots of perks for an airline credit card.
Southwest enthusiasts love the airline for its liberal policies. There are no blackout dates, no change fees and no charge for the first two checked bags.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card offers a compelling sign-up bonus of 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. The bonus is worth about $400, enough for a free round-trip flight on most of the routes Southwest currently offers. Also, you can now earn an additional 20,000 points when you spend $12,000 on your card within the first year. The bonus also gets you closer to the 110,000 points required to earn their much-heralded Companion Pass offer, which allows you to fly a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, as often as you like, for just the cost of taxes and fees, one of the most generous airline perks we’ve ever seen.
Even better, the Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earned it plus the entire following calendar year. There are several other airlines that have companion ticket offers, but these are typically one-time offers.
You’ll also earn 3,000 bonus points every year on your card anniversary, which although they don’t count towards earning that Companion Pass, are still worth about $30 towards your next free flight. The annual cost of owning the card though is $69, so we wish that the bonus was at least equal to that amount.
If you fly a lot, and your goal is to earn elite status with Southwest, you’d likely be better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, which for $99 a year also gives you 1,500 Tier Qualifying points for every $10,000 you spend per year on the card, up to a 15,000-point maximum. You need at least 35,000 Tier Qualifying points or 25 one-way flights per calendar year to qualify for A-List status, which comes with perks like priority boarding, points bonuses and no charges for same-day standby flights.
Who should get this card
Frequent fliers on Southwest or anyone aiming to earn the Companion Pass can accelerate their points accrual with this card.
Fees and APR
- This card has a $69 annual fee.
- There’s a variable APR on purchases and balance transfers of 17.24 percent to 24.24 percent based on creditworthiness.
- Late payments won’t affect your APR, but you will be subject to a penalty fee of up to $37 for each late payment.
- Balance transfers will be subject to a 5 percent fee of the amount being transferred.
- There’s a foreign transaction charge of 3 percent.
Extras, perks and using points
This card comes with Visa Signature benefits, which include auto and travel protections and insurances and hotel discounts and benefits at participating properties. It also provides extended warranty protections on qualifying purchases.
To redeem your points, go to Southwest.com and log into your Rapid Rewards account. When searching for your itinerary choose the “Points” option instead of Dollars. Select the fare you want and then check out using points to pay. You have to have enough Rapid Rewards points to cover the amount required for the flight. You cannot pay with a combination of points and cash. All applicable taxes and fees must be paid for with either a credit card, debit card or a Southwest gift card.
Rapid Rewards Credit Card members can also redeem their Rapid Rewards points for hotel stays, rental cars, gift cards, event tickets, merchandise and other unique experiences.
How this card compares
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a sign-up bonus big enough for a free round-trip flight in the U.S. At $99, this card is $30 more than the Plus version but in return you can earn Tier Qualifying Points towards A-list status through spending on the card, something you cannot do with the Plus version.
The JetBlue Card allows you to pool points with family members and the points never expire. There are also no blackout dates, potentially making it easier to redeem your miles for the times you want to travel. This card’s sign-up bonus could be enough for a free flight if you’re able to snag one of the lowest point redemption award offers at 3,500 points.
Delta enthusiasts should consider adding this card to their wallets, just for the mileage potential. Earn 2 miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases with the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. If you belong to the SkyMiles Loyalty Program you’ll earn an additional 5 miles for every $1 spent on airline tickets. This means a Delta airline ticket bought from the airline can snag cardholders a whopping 7 miles per $1 spent. For the $95 annual fee, waived the first year, you also get a free checked bag.
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard will likely appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles. You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise. This may be of greater value to you depending on your spending habits.