Is the Chase Southwest Plus Card annual fee worth it? Companion Pass seekers should take a hard look

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card currently has an increased welcome bonus of up to 75,000 Southwest points (worth ~$1,125 in Southwest airfare) after meeting the tiered minimum spending requirements. This massive bonus alone makes the card a great deal, but is the Southwest Plus card’s annual fee worth paying year after year?

The annual fee is only $69 and you’ll earn an bonus of 3,000 Southwest points (worth ~$45) each year on your card member anniversary. While the Southwest Plus Credit Card has a few nice benefits, its main appeal is for people looking to earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass as cheaply as possible. However, if you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, one of the other Chase Southwest cards may be a better fit.

Is the Chase Southwest Plus card annual fee Worth it?

When you apply for the Southwest Plus card, you’ll earn a bonus of up to 75,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points broken down as follows:

  • 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within first three months of account opening
  • 35,000 more points after spending $5,000 on purchases within first six months of account opening

The 75,000-point bonus is a great offer is you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which is arguably the best deal in travel. With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you for nearly free (just pay taxes and fees) on paid and award tickets.

To qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, you’d have to earn 125,000 Southwest points in a calendar year. And because the welcome bonus from the Chase Southwest Plus card counts toward the Companion Pass, you’ll only be 50,000 shy of earning it.

The card has a $69 annual fee, which is not waived the first year, but it has the lowest annual fee of all the Chase Southwest cards. So if your main goal is to qualify for the Companion Pass, this is the cheapest way to help you get there.

Southwest points are worth about 1.5 cents each, so the 75,000-point sign-up bonus is worth ~$1,125. After the first year, you’ll have to decide if the Southwest Plus card benefits are worth $69 to you. Remember, you’ll receive 3,000 Southwest points on your card anniversary (worth ~$45 in Southwest airfare), which brings your effective net annual fee cost to ~$24. The card also comes with travel protections, like rental car insurance (secondary in the U.S.), baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance and more.

You can read our full review of the Chase Southwest Plus card for complete details on all these perks.

Other Southwest cards have higher fees but better perks

If you fly Southwest often, travel internationally or want a Southwest credit card to keep in your wallet for the long term, you’re probably better off with one of the other Southwest cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

These cards have higher annual fees than the Southwest Plus, but the additional perks and benefits make them a better deal.

The Southwest Premier card and Southwest Premier Business each have a higher annual fee of $99, but you earn 6,000 Southwest points each year on your card member anniversary. Those points are worth ~$90 because Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each, so your effective net annual fee cost is only $9 ($99 annual fee – $90 value of anniversary points). Also, the Southwest Premier cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, whereas the Southwest Plus card does.

Use your anniversary points to book one of Southwest’s new routes to Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Southwest)

The Southwest Priority card as an even higher annual fee of $149, but you’ll earn 7,500 Southwest points each year on your card member anniversary (worth ~$113 in Southwest airfare) and you’ll receive a $75 credit towards Southwest flights. If you can make the most of these perks you’ll negate the annual fee and then some.

You’ll also receive several other benefits like four upgraded boardings per year, 20% back on inflight purchases and no foreign transaction fees. The Southwest Priority has the best benefits if you fly Southwest often and can use the perks, despite the $149 annual fee.

You can only have one personal Southwest card at a time. However, you’re able to have one personal and one business card, which is how many people earn the 125,000 points in a calendar year required for the Southwest Companion Pass.

The Chase 5/24 rule applies to all the Southwest cards, so if you’ve opened five or more cards (from any bank, excluding Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months, you won’t be approved.

Is the Southwest Plus card good for everyday purchases?

With the Chase Southwest Plus card, you’ll earn:

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest purchases
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar on everything else

While the 2x points on Southwest purchases is decent, you can earn 2x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on all travel purchases (including Southwest flights) with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest because they’re a 1:1 Chase transfer partner. If you use your points for travel other than flights on Southwest, the added flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards may make one of these cards a better option for your everyday spending. Keep in mind that points transferred from Chase to Southwest do not count towards the Companion Pass, but purchases made with a Southwest credit card will count.

Bottom line

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card comes with a bonus offer of up to 75,000 Southwest points (worth ~$1,125 in travel) after meeting minimum spending requirements. The card’s annual fee is $69, but you’ll earn a bonus of 3,000 Southwest points (worth ~$45 in Southwest flights) each year on your card member anniversary. You’ll also get benefits like secondary rental car insurance, baggage delay insurance and extended warranty, which could make the card worth keeping if you don’t have those benefits on another card.

If you are trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, the 75,000-point sign-up bonus and low annual fee make this card a great option. But if you fly Southwest often or will use the card overseas, you’re better off with a different Southwest card that has no foreign transaction fees.

You can apply for the Chase Southwest Plus card here.

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Featured photo by Lowe Llaguno/Shutterstock.

Chris Campbell is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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