Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review

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Best Southwest starter card

Annual Fee:
$69
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is an ideal choice for Southwest flyers looking for an entry-level Southwest Airlines credit card. Although it with fewer perks than Southwest’s higher-tier airline cards, it also charges a lower annual fee and carries a decent welcome bonus.

Read on to find out if this is the right travel rewards card for you.

Want more details? Jump to the following sections:

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages

  • Lowest annual fee on a Southwest credit card
  • Decent rewards rate on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Includes perks like your first two checked bags for free

Disadvantages

  • No intro APR offer
  • Carries a foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee may still be too steep for casual travelers
  • Very little flexibility for those looking for variety in airlines

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases and Southwest hotel and car rental partners; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Annual fee: $69
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR

Current sign-up bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card now offers: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. However, to qualify, you can’t have another Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and can’t have received a new cardmember bonus in the past 24 months from the Southwest Rapid Rewards program.

Rewards rate

The rewards on this card are designed for those who prefer flying with Southwest Airlines, earning Rapid Rewards points to spend on bookings, products and services through the airline loyalty program.

Earning rewards

Every dollar you spend on purchases with Southwest Airlines will earn you 2X Rapid Rewards points. All other purchases earn you 1X point per dollar. Southwest Airlines purchases include Southwest flight reservations, in-flight purchases, gift cards, vacation package purchases and bookings with the airline’s rental car and hotel partners.

You’ll also earn 3,000 bonus points each year on your account anniversary and can earn up to 3X points per dollar at participating restaurants through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program, which is especially helpful for stacking your first-year dining bonus category for extra points.

Redeeming rewards

Not only can you can put your points toward Southwest flights to more than 90 destinations, but you can also use them for other approved products and services via the Rapid Rewards shopping portal like gift cards, cruises, car rentals, hotel stays, exclusive events and merchandise.

There are some restrictions, however. Points can’t be used for special fares such as those for infant, military, government and child passengers. Additionally, they can’t be used for Southwest amenities like extra bags and carrying on pets.

How much are points worth?

The value of Southwest points can vary based on a number of factors including the day, fare class, demand, destination and time.

On average, we’ve found the Rapid Rewards points have a value of about 1.3 cents to 1.4 cents when booking Southwest flights. To find out the point cost of your desired flight, log in to Southwest.com and enter your flight details.

Benefits

Along with earning rewards, you’ll also enjoy the following benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card.

Travel perks

You’ll enjoy a lineup of travel benefits including lost luggage reimbursement up to $3,000 per passenger and baggage delay insurance up to $100 per day for three days. Additionally, your first two checked bags fly free (size and weight limits apply), and there are no fees for flight changes.

Purchase protection

When you use your card to buy items with eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less, you’ll get a warranty for an additional year. Further, purchase protection covers your purchases for up to 120 days against theft or damage, up to $500 per event and up to $50,000 per account.

Anniversary bonus

After your cardmember account anniversary each year, you’ll earn 3,000 bonus points.

Discounted DoorDash DashPass

Like other co-branded Chase credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus offers 12 months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass if you enroll by Dec. 31, 2021. After that, you’ll be responsible for the current monthly DashPass rate.

Rates and Fees

This card comes with a $69 annual fee. The APR on purchases and balance transfers ranges from 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent (variable), depending on your creditworthiness, with no zero-interest offers available currently.

One major downside of the card for frequent international travelers is that if you use your card overseas, you will have to pay a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. This a bit surprising since most travel-oriented cards pose no foreign transaction fees.

Cash advances come with a higher APR of 24.99 percent variable, along with a fee of either $10 or 5 percent of your transaction amount, whichever is more. Balance transfers also come with a fee of $5 or 5 percent of the transaction amount, whichever is more. Additionally, if you make your payment late or have your payment returned, you can face a fee of up to $40 per instance. The good news is there are no fees for returned checks or going over your credit limit.

How the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus compares to other cards

If you fly frequently and want to enjoy even more perks from Southwest, consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. While it has a higher annual fee of $149, you get several advantages in return, including a 7,500 point cardmember anniversary bonus every year, four upgraded boardings per year, $75 travel credit per year, 20 percent back on all in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi and no foreign transaction fees.

Or, if you’d prefer a more flexible travel rewards card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card may be a better fit. It has a $95 annual fee, a bit higher, but offers two miles per dollar spent on all purchases with no limits. You can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.

Prospective cardholders that want to stay in the sphere of Chase cards might also benefit from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Although it has a $95 annual fee, it earns solid rewards on travel and dining that can be transferred to or used on Southwest flights. Plus, it provides extensive travel insurance and one of the largest sign-up bonuses available—100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months—which could be worth $1,250 toward travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • 2X points on Southwest Airlines flights and purchases with the airline’s hotel and car rental partners
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$149 Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • 2X miles on all purchases
$95 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
  • 2X points on dining (including eligible delivery services) and travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$95 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Best cards to pair with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card limits the rewards you can earn outside of Southwest Airlines purchases to 1 point per dollar. To maximize your credit card return on investment, consider pairing it with a cash back card with higher rewards rates in other categories for everyday spending or a flat-rate rewards card.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, for example, lets you earn 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then it’s 1 percent), 6 percent cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations, 3 percent back on transit and 1 percent back on everything else. However, it comes with a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year).

If you’d prefer a no-annual-fee card that helps you earn more rewards, the Citi® Double Cash Card rewards you with up to 2 percent cash back on all purchases: You earn 1 percent when you make purchases and 1 percent when you pay off those purchases.

Similarly, a card that earns boosted flat-rate rewards and that you can transfer to Southwest airlines could come in handy, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Bankrate’s take—Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card worth it?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card is a good option if you fly occasionally and prefer to fly with Southwest. It will help you to earn miles you can use to pay for flights. However, if you travel frequently, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card can offer more perks. Additionally, if you like to travel with various airlines, a card like the Capital One Venture will offer you more flexibility.

about the author
Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit ...
about the editor
Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com, focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and...