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Comparing all 5 Southwest credit cards: Here’s how to determine which one’s right for you

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Comparing all 5 Southwest credit cards: Here’s how to determine which one’s right for you

Alex CurtisComparing all 5 Southwest credit cards: Here’s how to determine which one’s right for youMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: If you’re looking for the Southwest card with the biggest welcome bonus, then the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Card is the one you want.

When it comes to earning points and miles, we know that airline miles can get confusing. Luckily, Southwest Airlines has always kept it simple. You don’t have to worry about blackout dates, basic economy fares or fees for checked bags. Plus, Southwest Airlines is home to the best deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass.

For all these reasons and more, it is smart to look into a Southwest credit card to earn more miles and perks while flying on Southwest.

With five Southwest credit cards available, choosing the right card might feel overwhelming. I am going to break down and compare all the Southwest credit cards to make your decision easier.

Southwest desk
Which Southwest credit card is right for you? (Photo courtesy of RaksyBH/Shutterstock.com.)

Southwest credit card comparison

With so many Southwest credit cards to choose from, I have made it easy for you to choose, depending on the features that are most important to you.

Three of these cards are personal credit cards and two are business credit cards, a total of five different cards to compare. Just remember that Southwest allows you to carry only one personal credit card at a time.

Southwest personal credit cards

Any of these cards are great options to add to your wallet. They let you earn Southwest points on all purchases that you make with the card and are all offering increased bonuses of up to 60,000 Southwest points after meeting tiered spending requirements.

Southwest business credit cards

If you are looking for a business credit card, Southwest has some really good cards designed specifically for your needs. These cards also have huge welcome bonuses and are a great way to earn Southwest miles from your business purchases. Don’t forget that you might qualify for a business credit card and not even realize it.

Which card is right for you?

Here is a breakdown of card features to help you decide which card to choose:

Best card for a low annual fee

If you are looking for a card with the lowest annual fee, then the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has you covered.

At $69 per year (not waived the first year), this is the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card and earns you a solid welcome bonus of up to 60,000 Southwest points: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, and an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

Man budgeting paperwork
With a low annual fee, the Southwest Plus credit card is easy on the budget. (Photo courtesy of Chainarong06/ Shuttestock.com.)

You still earn 3,000 Southwest points each year on your cardholder anniversary as a thank you for keeping the card active. Of course, you earn Southwest points on all purchases made with the card. This makes it a great card for earning Southwest points without spending too much on an annual fee.

Best card for overseas purchases and a lower annual fee

With an annual fee of $99, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the middle-of-the-road card for folks considering one of the Southwest Chase credit card offers.

It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of the Southwest Priority Card, but you will get:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 Southwest points on your account anniversary (worth ~$90 in Southwest flights)

The points you earn on your account anniversary can nearly zero out the annual fee ($99 annual fee – points worth ~$90 in Southwest flights). Plus, the card has no foreign transaction fees, unlike the lower annual fee Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Best personal card for frequent Southwest flyers

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card might have a lower annual fee, but if you fly Southwest with any regularity you should opt for the Southwest Priority Card.

Essentially, the card’s $149 annual fee is negated by:

  • Up to $75 in statement credits for eligible Southwest purchases each account anniversary year
  • Four upgraded boardings (positions A1 to A15) each account anniversary year (worth $30, $40, or $50 each, depending on the flight)
  • 20% back on Southwest inflight purchases
  • 7,500 Southwest points on your account anniversary (worth ~$113 in Southwest flights)
  • 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually (which equal 15,000 TQPs)
  • No foreign transaction fees

All of these benefits make it a great choice for anyone who can take advantage of the statement credits for Southwest purchases or for those traveling with friends and family when the upgraded boardings could really make a difference.

Best business card for a lower minimum spending requirement

When you apply for the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card, you can earn a welcome bonus of 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months.

You’ll get the following perks:

  • 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 6,000 bonus points each account anniversary year
  • Free employee cards
  • No foreign transaction fees

There’s a $99 annual fee. But that’s just about half of the cost of the annual fee on the other Southwest business card, the Southwest Performance Business Card.

So, if you’ve decided to apply for a Southwest business card, don’t fly Southwest on a regular basis and are looking for the business card with the lowest annual fee, the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card is the one you want.

Best Card for a Huge Welcome Bonus

Earning a welcome bonus is the fastest way to enjoy free rewards travel. If you are looking for a card with the biggest welcome bonus, then the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Card is the one for you.

You can earn an incredible 80,000 Southwest points after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening. Considering that Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each, this 80,000 point welcome bonus is worth $1,200 toward rewards travel. That’s more than enough to justify the card’s $199 annual fee.

Even better, the bonus will count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

To earn the Companion Pass, you need to earn 110,000 Southwest miles in a single calendar year. By combining the welcome bonus with the points you earn from meeting the minimum spending requirements, you would have a total of 85,000 Southwest points, which is more than three-quarters of the way to the Companion Pass.

The Southwest Companion Pass is the best deal in travel because you can take your companion along for nearly free. (Photo courtesy of swissmediavision/iStock.)

To really seal the deal, you can also apply for any of the personal Southwest cards, which all have the same welcome bonus of up to 60,000 Southwest points: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within three months of account opening, and an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

These two welcome bonuses together (from one personal card and the Performance business card) would be more than the 110,000 Southwest points needed for a Companion Pass. This makes it one of the easiest ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass in years.

You can enjoy your Southwest Companion Pass for the remainder of the year you earn it, plus the entire next year. That allows for lots of great travel opportunities.

Bottom Line

With several different Southwest credit cards to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which card is right for you. But now that we have broken it down, it should be clear what card is the best for you based on your spending and usage habits.

Again, here’s a roundup of all of the Southwest cards:

Which Southwest credit card do you have your eye on?

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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