A good travel credit card can help you reach your discount travel goals while adding extra perks and benefits along the way. A big part of choosing your card  is deciding between a co-branded card tied to a loyalty program or a more general credit card that earns rewards towards any type of travel.

Today, we’re looking at the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and how it compares to the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Both cards offer a welcome bonus, rewards and additional perks. However, there are differences that can make one card better than the other depending on your spending and travel habits.

The long and short of it is that either one could be a good intermediate travel card depending on your travel spending habits. However,  Let’s take a deeper dive into the cards’ offerings to learn more.

Main details

Cards Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Welcome bonus Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening
Rewards rate
  • 2X points on Southwest purchases; Southwest hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting (including ride-shares); internet, cable, phone and select streaming services
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2X miles on all other purchases
Variable APR 18.24 percent to 25.24 percent 17.49 percent to 25.49 percent
Annual fee $69 $95

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus vs. Capital One Venture Rewards highlights

Welcome bonus winner: Capital One Venture Rewards

The Venture Rewards card offers a 75,000-mile sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 within three months of opening your account. These bonus miles can be worth up to $750 when redeemed toward travel. Plus, there’s the option to redeem miles with an impressive list of Capital One Travel partners (as opposed to the small list of travel partners for the Southwest Rapid Rewards card).

Right now, the Venture Rewards card has a higher bonus, but in times past, Southwest cards have offered Companion Passes as part of their welcome bonus. However, there’s no set schedule of when those promotions begin and end. The most recent welcome bonus that offered the Companion Pass with 30,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the card ended March 14th, 2022.

Yes, the Companion Pass is a pretty awesome welcome bonus, normally making the Rapid Rewards Plus card the winner here. But because it’s a limited-time promotion and not currently active, we gave this category to the Venture Rewards card.

Rewards rate winner: Capital One Venture

The Venture Rewards card earns more rewards per dollar spent in both bonus categories and general purchases than the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the Venture Rewards card’s rewards structure works:

  • 5X miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2X miles per dollar on all purchases

The Rapid Rewards Plus card only offers 2X points on Southwest purchases, Southwest hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting (including ride-shares), internet, cable, phone and select streaming services. Then, you only get 1X points back on all other purchases.

Not only does the Venture Rewards card offer a better rewards structure, but you’ll also get 2X miles on all purchases—whereas the Rapid Reward Plus only offers 1X points on all other purchases. If your goal is to rack up more rewards with everyday spending, the Venture Rewards card is an excellent choice.

Annual Fee winner: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

The Rapid Rewards Plus card boasts a slightly lower annual fee of $69, versus the Capital One Venture Rewards’ $95 annual fee. However, with that lower annual fee, you might not have as many perks or earn as many rewards as you would with the Venture Rewards card.

Foreign transaction fee winner: Capital One Venture

The Venture Rewards card has no foreign transaction fees, making it a great travel companion for trips abroad. However, the Rapid Rewards Plus card does charge a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.

Which card earns the most?

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus vs. the Capital One Venture spending example

Spending category Amount Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Capital One Venture
Groceries $4,687.00 9,374 9,374
Dining $2,375.00 2,375 4,750
Gas $1,313.00 2,626 2,626
Apparel & services $1,434.00 1,434 2,868
Streaming $1,200.00 2,400 2,400
Entertainment $1,200.00 2,912 2,400
Internet cable and phone $1,200.00 2,400 2,400
Personal care products and services $646.00 646 1,292
Southwest Travel $1,440.00 2,880 2,880
All other travel $1,440.00 1,440 7,200*
Anniversary Bonus 3,000
Total $16,935.00 31,487 38,190

*Assumes other travel is booked through the Capital One travel portal.

In this spending example, the Capital One Venture Rewards card earns about 20 percent more rewards than the Rapid Rewards Plus card. The 2X on all “other” spending makes a considerable difference in how much you can earn with this card. Note, the Rapid Rewards Plus does add an annual anniversary bonus of 3,000 points, which closes the earnings gap somewhat.

Why should you get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Additional benefits

One perk of a co-branded card like the Southwest Rapid Rewards is the ability to earn more points and benefits by reaching certain statuses. A-List status earns a 25 percent bonus on qualifying flights, while A-list Preferred status earns a 100 percent earning bonus on qualifying flights.

A-List status also comes with priority boarding and check-in and a dedicated member phone line. You can reach A-list status by earning 35,000 qualifying points or taking 25 qualifying flights.

Then, A-List Preferred status comes with everything above, plus free in-flight Wi-Fi. To reach A-list status, you’ll need 70,000 qualifying points or 50 qualifying flights. If you score the 50,000-point welcome bonus with the Rapid Rewards card (earned after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months), you’ll be on your way to make A-List.

The Rapid Reward Plus has some very basic perks and benefits:

  • Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger) and baggage delay insurance (up to $100 per day for three days)
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection (terms apply)
  • Annual cardmember account anniversary bonus of 3,000 bonus points
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass (terms apply)

Redemption options

If you are a More Rewards program member with a Rapid Rewards credit card, you can also redeem your points for international flights offered by other airlines, as well as gift cards, hotel stays, rental cars and merchandise (though redemption values will vary). Some of Southwest’s hotel and resort partners include:

  • Southwest Hotels
  • Best Western Hotels and Resorts
  • Radisson
  • Choice Hotels
  • World of Hyatt
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • MGM Resorts International

You can earn and redeem Rapid Rewards points when you book with eligible Southwest partners. Plus, you can earn up to 100,000 Rapid Rewards points each year by referring friends through Chase’s refer-a-friend program.

If you want more details on earning and redeeming points with your Rapid Rewards Plus card, check out Bankrate’s Southwest Rapid Rewards guide.

Recommended credit score

You’ll need a good or excellent credit score (670 to 850) to qualify for this card.

Why should you get the Capital One Venture?

Additional benefits

Recently, the issuer relaunched its Capital One travel portal and added some neat features that include price prediction, price watch, price drop protection, price match guarantee and “cancel for any reason” to cardholders who book accommodations through the site.

Here are some other noteworthy Venture Rewards card benefits:

  • Up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Access to Capital One airport lounges
  • 24-hour travel assistance services, which can help you get cash if your card is lost or stolen
  • Car rental insurance, extended warranty coverage, fraud coverage and travel and emergency assistance.
  • Virtual credit card numbers
  • Complimentary concierge assistance
  • Premium benefits at exclusive events, access to more than 900 Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection properties and access to more than 60 Sonoma County wineries through Visa Signature card perks

Redemption options

The main redemption options include booking travel through the Capital One rewards portal, receiving a statement credit for recent eligible travel purchases (within the last 90 days) or transferring miles to partner airline and hotel programs. If you don’t want to redeem your miles for travel, you can also cash them out in the form of a statement credit, check, gift cards, Amazon.com or PayPal purchases and more.

Recommended credit score

Similar to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, you’ll need a good or  excellent credit score to qualify for this card.

The bottom line

Both the Rapid Rewards Plus and Venture Rewards are formidable competitors in the entry-level travel credit card space. If you’re a die-hard Southwest fan, the Rapid Rewards Plus card could easily provide value—especially if you can score the Companion Pass through its updated welcome bonus promotion. On the other hand, the Venture Rewards offers a higher rate for general spending with the option to get much more value (and earnings) for travel bookings. Overall, the card you choose will depend on how you spend and how you prefer to travel.