Best credit cards for Southwest flyers (one with a HUGE 100,000 point bonus)
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When it comes to using credit card rewards, airline miles can get really confusing. Luckily, Southwest Airlines has always kept it simple. You don’t have to worry about a Southwest award chart, blackout dates, basic economy fares or checked bag fees. Read our Southwest Rapid Rewards review for more details.
Southwest credit cards are some of the best airline credit cards on the market, for the simple fact that they can help you earn the best deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass. It’s smart to look into a Southwest credit card to earn more points and perks while flying on Southwest. With so many credit cards to choose from, we’ve laid the details out in a digestible way to help you decide the features that are most important to you.
Best cards for Southwest flyers
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best card if you want the lowest annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Best card for overseas purchases and a lower annual fee
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best personal card for frequent Southwest flyers
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Best business card for ongoing perks
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Best business card for a lower minimum spending requirement
Comparing current Southwest credit card offers
|Credit card||Bonus Offer||Bonus Value (based on our valuations)||Annual fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Our review|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Earn up to 80,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.||up to $1,200||$69||Yes||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Earn up to 80,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.||up to $1,200||$99||No||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Earn up to 80,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening.||up to $1,200||$149||No||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Earn up to 100,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements:|
– 70,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
– 30,000 points after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
|$1,500||$199||No||Our review of the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||Earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening||$900||$99||No||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card|
Which Southwest credit card is right for 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. Here is a breakdown of card features to help you decide which card to choose. And read our guide on how to use Southwest points.
Best card if you want a low annual fee
With the Chase Southwest Plus, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening. Southwest points value hovers around 1.5 cents each, making this bonus worth up to $1,200 in Southwest flights.
Beyond all the travel insurance benefits, the only notable ongoing benefit is that you’ll receive 3,000 Southwest points every cardmember anniversary. Based on the general Southwest points value, those points are worth around $45 per year, offsetting more than half the card’s annual fee. Here’s our take on the Southwest Plus Card benefits.
At $69 per year, this is the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card, and earns you just as solid welcome bonus as all other Southwest personal credit cards.
After you meet minimum spending requirements, you’ll have 90,000 points, which is worth up to $1,350. Southwest has crazy good sales all the time, so you should easily be able to take a tropical vacation with a bonus like that. For example, it’s not difficult to find round-trip flights to Cancun from all over the U.S. for ~21,000 Southwest points. Read our Southwest Plus Card review.
Best card for overseas purchases and a lower annual fee
The Chase Southwest Premier offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening. Southwest points value is generally 1.5 cents each. This bonus should give you at least up to $1,200 in Southwest flights.
Beyond the 6,000 cardmember anniversary bonus points, this card differs little from the Chase Southwest Plus card, but it does have an important feature that the Plus does not: The Chase Southwest Premier doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you plan on swiping your Southwest credit card abroad, but still don’t want an annual fee in the triple digits, this is the card you want. Here’s a closer look at the Chase Southwest Premier benefits and perks.
Despite this card having a $99 annual fee, its anniversary bonus points essentially make it cheaper than the Chase Southwest Plus. You’ll receive 6,000 Southwest points every time you renew your card. Those are worth $90 in Southwest flights, effectively bringing your out-of-pocket expense each year to just $9.
After meeting minimum spending, you’ll have 90,000 points, worth up to $1,350 in Southwest airfare. The only other value factor is how much you spend abroad, as the card will save you in foreign transaction fees — but that can add up quickly! I saved $117 on these fees during a recent vacation by using a card that waived foreign transaction fees. Check out our Southwest Premier Card review.
Best card for frequent Southwest flyers
The Chase Southwest Priority comes with 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months of account opening. That’s worth up to $1,200 in Southwest flights.
With this card, you’ll receive:
- 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 in-flight 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
This is the only card on this list that will completely negate the annual fee each year with zero effort on your part. If you’re a Southwest regular, you’ll receive ~$188 in airfare each year, thanks to a $75 Southwest statement credit and 7,500 Southwest points for renewing your card each year.
If you fly Southwest with any regularity you should opt for the Southwest Priority Card. You can receive $1,700+ in value from the card in the first year:
- up to 90,000 points after earning the intro bonus and meeting spending requirements (worth $1,350 based on our Southwest points value estimation)
- $75 statement credit annually
- $113 in points (based on our Southwest points value estimation) annually
- Up to $200 in upgraded boardings annually
This is hands down the best Southwest personal card, and it’s not close. Here’s our Southwest Priority Card review.
Best business card if you want a huge welcome bonus (that counts toward the Companion Pass)
The Chase Southwest Performance Business Card comes with 100,000 bonus points after meeting tiered spending requirements:
- 70,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
- 30,000 points after spending $25,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening
That’s worth $1,500 in Southwest flights (well, it’s actually worth a lot more — I’ll explain).
The card also comes with the best Southwest benefits of any card. You’ll receive:
- Four upgraded boardings each year (between A1 and A15)
- Up to 365 credits each year worth $8 toward inflight Wi-Fi
- 9,000 anniversary points (worth $135 in flights)
- 3 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car purchases
- Statement credit of up to $100 for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee
This is hands down one of the best credit cards for travel. Read our examination of Southwest Performance Business credit card benefits.
Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses help you qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass. To receive it, you must earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year. After meeting minimum spending, you’ll earn 100,000 qualifying bonus points — only 25,000 away from the Companion Pass!
If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, this is a huge no-brainer. Between the sign-up bonus, the Global Entry statement credit, the Wi-Fi credits, and the four upgraded boardings each year (which can cost $50 a pop), you can easily receive $1,750+ in value from this card for the first year. And because you’ll earn the Companion Pass, this effectively doubles the value of your points, as you can bring someone along for free whenever you fly Southwest. You could easily receive $3,200 in value by earning the full bonus on this card.
Best business card for a lower minimum spending requirement
The Chase Southwest Premier Business Card offers 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 within the first three months. Southwest points are valued at 1.5 cents each, making this bonus worth, on average, $900 in Southwest flights.
Benefits & perks
- 6,000 bonus points each account anniversary year (worth $90, based on average Southwest points value)
- Free employee cards
- No foreign transaction fees
Check out our deep dive into the Southwest Premier Business Card benefits and perks.
You can only hold one Southwest personal credit card at a time. If you’ve already got one, you’ll have to cancel it (or product change it) if you want a different one. However, you can have two Southwest small business cards at once. If you open and earn the bonuses of both the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card and the Chase Southwest Premier Business Card, you’ll immediately qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass!
This card’s annual fee is about half of its Southwest small business card brother. The sign-up bonus is smaller, but so is its annual fee and minimum spending requirement. If you don’t think you can cope with the slightly more daunting Chase Southwest Performance Business Card annual fee and spending requirement, this is still an amazing card to open. Read our Southwest Premier Business Card review.
FAQ about Southwest credit cards
What are the requirements to get a Southwest credit card?
There are a few things you should know before applying for a Southwest credit card.
- You should have a credit score above 700 if you’re involved in the miles and points hobby. These cards are meant for those with good credit, and you’ll have the most success with a credit score of 700 and above.
- All Southwest cards are subject to the Chase “5/24 rule.” If you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months (excluding certain small business cards), Chase won’t approve you for any of these cards.
- You can only have one Southwest personal credit card at once. If you’ve already got a Southwest card, you’ll have to close it before you apply for another.
- You can’t earn more than one Southwest personal credit card bonus per 24 months.
What are the main benefits of having a Southwest credit card?
It depends on which card you have, but in all honesty, Southwest credit card benefits aren’t much to write home about. The only cards actually worth keeping in our opinion are the Chase Southwest Performance Business and the Chase Southwest Priority cards. These both have ongoing perks that make the cards worth keeping if you frequently fly Southwest.
We say this because simply earning Southwest points from credit card spending is NOT enough to keep a Southwest card. That’s because Southwest is a Chase transfer partner. If you have a card that earns Chase points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn Southwest points just as quickly as if you were using a Southwest card (and oftentimes quicker). And the Chase Sapphire Preferred has much better benefits than most Southwest cards — it’s actually one of the absolute best credit cards for travel.
Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass? Which cards offer it?
The Southwest Companion Pass lets a friend or family member travel with you for (nearly) free whenever you travel on Southwest. Whether your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash, your companion flies for just the cost of taxes and fees, which are usually ~$6 one-way on domestic flights.
You can apply for any of the personal Southwest cards (which all have the same welcome bonus of up to 80,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements) and a Southwest small business card. These two welcome bonuses together (from one personal card and the Performance business card) can qualify you for the Companion Pass. This is flat-out the easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
Check out our guide on how to earn Southwest points for more tricks to receiving the Companion Pass.
The first few months are the absolute best time of year to earn the Companion Pass. Your Companion Pass is valid through the year you earn it, plus the entire next year. So if you earn it in early 2021, you can use it until December 31, 2022. That’s almost two years, allowing for lots of great travel opportunities. Here’s how to use the Southwest Companion Pass.
Are Southwest Rapid rewards worth it?
Yes! All of us at MMS collect Southwest points. Southwest is the most customer-friendly airline in existence. Their cheap fares are easy to locate with the Southwest Low Fare Calendar. Our readers love Southwest not just because of their genuine staff, but because you’ll get two free checked bags and free changes/cancellations up to 10 minutes before takeoff. In other words, you could be sitting on the plane and decide you don’t want to fly, and Southwest will give you your points back free of charge.
Southwest even lets you convert travel vouchers into Southwest points. Just click this link and make your conversion before December 15, 2020. It’s a very generous way to squeeze more value from your travel vouchers!
Can I have more than one Southwest credit card?
Yes you can. But again, the only big rule is that you can only have one personal Southwest credit card at a time. You can have both Southwest small business cards at once, however.
Earning one Southwest personal card bonus and one small business card bonus is the most popular way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, in fact.
With several different Southwest credit cards to choose from (and all the Chase Southwest Performance Business Card earning a GIANT bonus of up to 100,000 points), 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.
Which Southwest credit card do you have your eye on?
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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! :)