Southwest Plus card benefits: Here’s why I signed up

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Back in college, when I had a healthy fear of credit card debt (thanks, dad!) I owned one credit card and I kept it hidden somewhere in my closet. I had seen too many of my friends rack up tons of debt and was determined not to go down that road. It’s pretty incredible how those Long Island ice teas add up fast when you’re not paying attention.

To me, debt signified the opposite of freedom. It meant I’d be even more stressed out trying to find a job upon graduation.  Instead, I stuck to my work schedule to save money and stuck with my debit card so that I knew exactly how much I could spend.

Fast forward to now. Things have changed a bit, I’ve learned some important lessons on how to manage credit cards to accumulate rewards miles. I recently signed up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (an unthinkable action not long ago). I fly on Southwest as much as I can; it’s one of my favorite airlines because of the flexibility they allow and the fact that you can check two bags for free.

I’ll show you Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card benefits that are some of the many reasons to love this card.

The Chase Southwest Plus card benefits were a big reason I applied. I flew to Panama with points – enjoying a post-hike lunch in the beautiful town of Boquete. (Photo by the author)

Chase Southwest Plus card benefits

My negative mentality towards credit cards didn’t change until I met my husband, Spencer. When I realized that he charged everything to his credit card I was completely horrified. But then when he told me that he just paid it off every month, and was able to earn enough points to fly to both Belize and Panama for free the year we met, I started to see the value in understanding how to use credit cards to earn points and miles.

Now I get it. Using a credit card doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re accumulating debt. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. By using a credit card (and paying it off each month), I am earning something extra.

The key for me now is to figure out which credit cards make the most sense for which situation. And the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card fits my lifestyle perfectly.

There a lot of different reasons that this card is now in my wallet, including the fact that I get two points for every $1 I spend on Southwest flights. But I’m going to keep it short and sweet to highlight the top five reasons I signed up!

Starting out with enough points for a free flight!

For me, the sign-up bonus is what initially sparks interest in a credit card. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card sign-up bonus includes 65,000 Southwest points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.

That means, depending on where you’re flying to and from, you’ll probably have enough points to take your first free flight within three months of signing up for this card.

I’ve found that Southwest points take me farther than a lot of other airlines. For example, I’m flying from Denver to Nashville in a few weeks, and my ticket was less than 7,000 Southwest points each way (other airlines would charge 12,500 miles each way!). So depending on where you’re going, 40,000 points is a pretty significant offer.

The sign-up bonus counts toward the Companion Pass

You’ve heard about the Southwest Companion Pass, right? We believe it’s one of the best travel perks out there.

When you sign up for this card, the 40,000-point bonus counts towards a Companion Pass! This means you’d only need to accumulate another 85,000 points in the same calendar year to qualify for a Companion Pass. You can come even closer by also opening the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card (it comes with 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months).

You’d better start thinking about who you’re going to take for free on all of these trips.

One of the lowest annual fees out there

I’m always looking to see if I’ll actually get enough value to justify the annual fee on a credit card when I sign-up.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has an uncommonly low annual fee of just $69. For the value I get with this card, the annual fee seems to be such a great deal.

3,000 bonus points every cardmember anniversary

This is one of the reasons I’m such a fan of Southwest — they just seem to get their customers.

By gifting 3,000 bonus points every time your card renews, it makes that $69 annual fee seem a bit more worth it. I haven’t seen many other companies offering bonus points on a card anniversary, and it just feels so thoughtful.

Southwest points are generally worth ~1.5 cents each. So 3,000 points is worth ~ $45 in Southwest flights each year! That brings the annual fee down to an effective $24.

No blackout dates on award flights

This isn’t exactly a card perk, but it profoundly affects the benefits that come with the card.

The scenario that folks come across with other airlines is this: You’ve got enough points to fly home for Thanksgiving, but can you use them? Many airline miles are subject to blackout dates and “available award seats.”

But with Southwest, you don’t have to worry about that! There are no blackout dates when you book award travel with Southwest. That means you’ve got the flexibility to travel whenever you please.

Your points won’t expire

Southwest points expire after 24 months of inactivity. But if you have the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card card, they will NEVER expire.

If your bags show up to your destination 6+ hours after you, then you and your immediate family are eligible for baggage delay insurance! You’ll receive up to $100 per day (for up to 3 days). But you must charge at least part of your airfare to your Chase Southwest Plus card to be covered.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Cardalso comes with the power to extend certain warranties on items you purchase with the card.

You’ll receive an additional year on eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of 3 years or less. And you’re covered for a maximum of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.

Bottom line

With a number of benefits that make travel easier (and cheaper!), it’s hard to discount the value you can get from the Southwest Plus card. That’s especially true now, given the card is offering an increased 65,000-point welcome offer after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements:

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

Have you signed up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card card or know someone who has? Do you find that you’re using this card more than others because of the benefits? I’d love to hear your thoughts, feel free to post in the comments section below!

For more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and Southwest points, read our review of the Southwest Plus card.

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

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

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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