Southwest flyers are loyal customers. Rightly so, because Southwest Airlines is well known for offering many benefits in exchange for that loyalty. It’s a quirky airline, in a good way. Southwest even flies to destinations that many people aren’t aware of such as destinations in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and now even Hawaii.
Though Southwest Airlines is often considered to be a low cost airline, paying for flights using points keeps your costs really low! Southwest’s frequent flyer program, Rapid Rewards, is easy to use and customer-friendly because unlike many other airline frequent flyer programs, with Rapid Rewards if a seat is available on a flight, it’s bookable using points. No blackout dates when using Rapid Reward points for flights is just one reason Southwest flyers find their loyalty rewarded.
Using Rapid Reward points for flights requires earning Rapid Reward points!
The number one way many Southwest loyal flyers earn points is with a credit card. Knowing which credit card is best for you can be confusing because there are many credit cards that help you earn Southwest Rapid Reward points. So let’s dig in, take a look at your credit card options for earning Rapid Reward points, and help you decide which credit card is your best choice.
Breaking It Down:
Why Fly Southwest Airlines?
That’s the basic question, isn’t it? Given the choices travelers have among airlines, why fly on Southwest? Southwest fans know the many reasons to be loyal to their favorite carrier. Yet many people have never flown Southwest and might be wondering why Southwest garners so much praise and loyalty.
Here are just a few reasons why Southwest is so popular among travelers:
- No checked bag fees
- No change fees
- Free beverages on holidays
- No blackout dates on award travel
- Ability to earn a Southwest Companion Pass that allows one person to fly with you
- A continually expanding destination list, most recently adding Hawaii to its routes
Best Credit Cards for Southwest Flyers
Credit cards are the best and fastest way to earn points or miles. Credit cards offer sign-up bonuses and in certain bonus categories, you can earn extra points — sometimes as much as 5x points.
There are three categories of cards earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points or cards that earn points that can be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards.
- Southwest Airlines credit cards
- Chase credit cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points
- Marriott credit cards that earn transferable Marriott Bonvoy points
Southwest Airlines Credit Cards
Southwest offers five different credit cards, three personal and two business. These co-branded cards are issued by Chase and Southwest Rapid Rewards.
There are a few things to keep in mind when looking at Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards:
- These cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you aren’t familiar with this rule, it is said that Chase is not likely to approve you for a Chase credit card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards within the last 24 months.
- Southwest will not grant you a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest credit card if you already are a Southwest cardholder or if you previously were a cardholder and earned a sign-up bonus within the last 24 months.
- You can earn a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card and a Southwest business card without waiting 24 months.
Southwest Rapid Reward Credit Cards
- 40,000 bonus points
- An extra 6,000 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary
- Annual fee: $99
- 3,000 anniversary points after your cardmember anniversary
- Annual fee: $69
- $75 Southwest annual travel credit each year
- Annual fee: $149
- 60,000 bonus points
- Annual fee: $99
Southwest recently unveiled the Rapid Rewards Performance Business card which sets a new bar for Southwest credit card perks. For starters, the welcome offer awards you with 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first three months of card opening.
But that’s just the beginning. This credit card also comes with many extras including:
- 4 upgraded boardings each year (at the gate or ticket counter on day of travel)
- Up to $100 credit towards TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
- Wi-Fi credit (365 Wi-Fi credits, which means you can fly every day on Southwest and have free Wi-Fi)
- Unlimited cards for employees
- No foreign transaction fee
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card, you’ll also get 9,000 Rapid Reward points after your cardmember anniversary. The annual fee is $199.
Here are the points earnings on the card:
- Earn 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
- Earn 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
- Earn 1x points on all other purchases
Chase Credit Cards Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. Due to Ultimate Rewards points transferring almost instantly, you can earn and use your Ultimate Rewards points for award travel without much lag time.
Chase offers some of the best travel rewards credit cards. Chase credit cards earn flexible Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to hotel and airline partners, including Southwest. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points can also be redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal for 1 to 1.5 cents or points, depending on which Chase credit card you have.
Keep in mind a few things when looking to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Airlines:
- When you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents per point if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.Since this rate is slightly higher than the 1:1 ratio you get when you transfer points to Southwest, you will want to price out your trip on both the Chase Travel Portal and through Southwest.com. Sometimes it might be a better deal to book through the Chase Travel Portal.
2. As with the Southwest credit cards listed above, these cards are also subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.
Recommended Chase Ultimate Rewards Earning Credit Cards
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months
- 2X points on travel and dining
- Annual Fee: $95
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants.
- Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass Select
- Annual Fee: $450
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories each account anniversary year: Travel, Shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines.
- Get up to $600 per claim in Cell Phone Protection against covered theft or damage for you (and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill) when you pay it with your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card.
- Annual Fee: $95
Chase’s Cash Back Credit Cards
If cash back credit cards work best for you, Chase offers cash back cards for earning miles and points when combined with a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card (the ones listed above).
- Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that, unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases & balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24% – 25.99%.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Earn $500 bonus cash back
- Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services
- Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 (combined) spent at gas stations and restaurants each year
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49% – 21.49%
- $0 Annual Fee
Pro Tip: Remember, if you have a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred℠ you can turn your cash back earned through these cards into transferrable Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards points may have greater value than cash back depending on your travel plans.
As an example keeping Southwest Airlines in mind, you can earn 1.5% cash back from the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. But if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, you could be earning 1.5 points per dollar instead. These points can then be transferred to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards
Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to many different airlines, and Southwest is one of their transfer partners. Marriott’s transfer ratio to most airlines is 3:1. So for every 3 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred, you get 1 Southwest Rapid Rewards point.
Marriott does, however, offer a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer. Transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and you’ll receive 20,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points plus a bonus of 5,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
While it might not be the best use of your Marriott Bonvoy points, it’s not a bad option. I would rather have airline miles, so I regularly transfer my Marriott Bonvoy points to their airlines partners.
Your Choices for Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards
There are several Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that can earn you points with the option to transfer to Southwest.
These two credit cards earn Marriott Bonvoy points. They are a great choice for Southwest flyers because you can transfer these points into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account at a 3:1 ratio. You will also get a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card – earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year. You’ll also receive a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card – earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125.
Which Is the Best Card to Earn Southwest Points?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to answering this question. It always depends on your travel style, travel patterns, and what you spend money on. There are so many different types of travelers, so let me use some general categories and make some suggestions.
Do you fly on Southwest, but only from time to time?
Then you’ll do well earning flexible points that you can transfer to Southwest when you need to book an award ticket. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows you to use your Ultimate Rewards points for Southwest flights, as well as at hotels and other Chase airline transfer partners.
Are you a Southwest frequent flyer aka a Southwest fanatic?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card may be a good option. This card earns 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and includes 4 upgraded boarding passes and a $75 Southwest credit each year.
Do you want perks in exchange for your loyalty to Southwest Airlines?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card includes 4 upgraded boarding passes and a 20% rebate on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi purchases.
Are you a business owner who flies Southwest a few times each year? Or a business owner and Southwest loyal customer?
In either case, the Ink Business Preferred℠ card is a good choice. You’ll earn flexible Ultimate Reward points that can be transferred to Southwest, or any other Chase transfer partner. The card earns 3 points per $1 spent (up to $150,000) each year on purchases in the multiple bonus categories including travel.
Are you interested in earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass?
Rapid Rewards Points earned from any of the 5 Southwest credit cards will count towards the 110,000 points needed to earn the Companion Pass.
People choose Southwest Airlines as their carrier of choice for so many different reasons. However, one thing Southwest flyers all appreciate is how easy it is to use Rapid Rewards points for booking Southwest award flights. No matter what your reasons are for choosing Southwest, having a credit card that earns lots of Rapid Reward points is a good idea.
- What Exactly is a Southwest Wanna Get Away Fare?
- Southwest Airlines: Everything You Need to Know!
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