Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Review

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This card lets you earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points on your spending, with the lowest annual fee among Southwest credit cards. If your goal is earning Southwest points while forking over as little as possible in fees, this card should be on your list.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

overall rating
4.3
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $69
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.9
for Fees
3.0
for Rewards
4.6
for Credit
4.0

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the first year.

Top Rated For

  • Chase Credit Cards
  • Credit Cards for Military Members

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker

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.

Pros

  • Lowest annual fee among Southwest credit cards

  • Easy-to-reach sign-up bonus

  • No blackout dates

Cons

  • Modest rewards for regular purchases

  • Annual fee not waived the first year

  • High ongoing APR

Pros Explained

  • 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, plus an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the first year.
  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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. You can also earn an additional an additional 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 total on purchases within the first year.

Then again, this isn’t the best airline bonus we’ve seen among cards in this niche, and this isn’t even the highest bonus this card has offered over the years. 

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. 

Redeeming Rewards

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 1.5 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

Sign up for this card and spend $1,000 within three months in order to earn 40,000 bonus miles. 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 

Customer Experience

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.

Security Features

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.

For Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Compare This Card

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CURRENT CARD
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
overall rating
4.3
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $69
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
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Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.