Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is ideal for someone who wants to earn Rapid Rewards points but doesn’t want to spend a lot for an annual fee. This card also works best for someone who wants to travel where Southwest flies, whether that’s around the continental U.S, to Hawaii, the Caribbean, or Mexico.
Lowest annual fee among Southwest credit cards
Easy-to-reach sign-up bonus
No blackout dates
Modest rewards for regular purchases
Annual fee not waived the first year
High ongoing APR
- Lowest annual fee among Southwest credit cards: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of all Southwest credit cards at just $69 per year. For reference, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has a $99 annual fee and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card comes with a $149 annual fee.
- Easy-to-reach sign-up bonus: This card gives you an initial boost of 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening. What's more, if you apply for this card before Feb. 10, 2020 and can spend $5,000 within six months of opening your account you'll earn another 35,000 points. More about this in the Sign-Up Bonus section below.
- No Blackout Dates: The Southwest Rapid Rewards program has no blackout dates, meaning you can use your points to book a seat on any flight if one is available.
- Modest rewards for regular purchases: Since many travel credit cards offer a few different bonus categories, it’s disappointing that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card only gives you bonus points for travel purchased via Southwest.
- Annual fee not waived the first year: While many travel and airline credit cards waive their annual fees for the first year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card charges $69 for each year you have the card.
- High ongoing APR: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card charges a high variable rate on purchases and balance transfers, which means you’ll pay a lot of interest if you carry a balance.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus
Once you sign up for the card, you can earn 40,000 points (worth about $600, according to our research) after you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening. This low spending threshold makes earning this bonus easy; after all, you only have to spend $334 on your card per month for three months in a row to qualify.
However, if you apply for this card by Feb. 10, 2020 and can spend $5,000 within six months of account opening (so about $834 per month on average), you'll get another 35,000 points for a total bonus of 75,000 points. The whole offer is worth about $1,117 in Southwest airfare, based on our calculations. That's an outstanding value for a card with such a low annual fee.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card offers the most rewards when you use it to make purchases through Southwest.com. You can earn 2 points per $1 spent on flights, plus hotels and rental cars booked through the airline.
You can also accrue 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases, but there are no bonus categories such as dining or groceries. Unfortunately, this is one area where the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card may come up short. On the bright side, the points you earn with your card are truly unlimited.
Southwest Airlines doesn’t have a fixed award chart, and it bases its award pricing on the cost of airfare. This is good news for consumers for the most part, since it’s easy to snag a cheap flight (in points) when prices drop during one of Southwest’s frequent sales.
Based on The Balance’s analysis, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth 1.49 cents each when redeemed for travel on Southwest Airlines. Other ways to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards include gift cards, other travel (hotels and rental cars), merchandise from select retailers, and events. The redemption value on these options varies.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Apply for this card by Feb. 10, 2020 and meet the two-part spending requirements to earn the outstanding (and valuable) 75,000-point bonus. Even after that, it makes sense to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card for purchases of airfare, hotels, or rental cars through Southwest as well since you earn 2 points for each dollar you spend.
To maximize your rewards, you might consider pairing this card with a Chase travel credit card that lets you earn more points in some categories while giving the option to transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. Also keep an eye out for Southwest’s frequent sales so you can stretch your miles as far as they can go.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s Excellent Perks
This card provides a couple of additional perks the editors of The Balance consider “excellent.”
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Get up to $3,000 reimbursed if your luggage is lost by a common carrier and you paid for the fare with your credit card.
- Baggage delay insurance: Receive up to $100 per day in reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses that result from a luggage delay of six hours or more. This coverage is good for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s Other Benefits
- Extended warranties
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is a Chase credit card, so you’ll deal with Chase when it comes to customer service inquiries regarding your account. Chase tied for third out of 11 issuers in the J.D. Power 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study, which considered the feedback of over 28,000 U.S. credit card customers. Its score put it in the 'about average' category.
Chase offers a mobile app, which is becoming standard among the bigger banks. In J.D. Power’s 2019 app study, Chase's app placed sixth out of nine, also scoring about average, with 870 of a possible 1,000 points.
Chase offers free credit scores and other resources through its Chase Credit Journey program, which is also available to non-cardholders.
This card has industry-standard security features, like fraud alerts and $0 fraud liability. The Credit Journey tool includes credit monitoring, with alerts that can help you spot fraud.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s Fees
This card’s fees are in line with industry norms. Travelers who spend a lot of time overseas should take note that this card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.