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Best Southwest Airlines credit cards

Pick the right card to maximize your Southwest miles.

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Our pick for a Southwest card: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card logo

40,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $1,000 in first 3 months

  • Enjoy $75 in Southwest travel credits annually
  • Earn 2x points on Southwest, hotels and rental cars
  • Get 7,500 points each card anniversary
See offer
Making the right credit card choice often depends on how frequently you fly with the airline. But you should also consider if the card’s value is enough to make up for its annual fee. Here are our picks for the best Southwest credit cards.

Best for the occasional traveler
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$69
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Points
40,000
Points welcome offer
The Rapid Rewards Plus charges a low annual fee of $69 but still offers the perks that come with the more expensive Southwest credit cards. This makes it a relatively low-risk card option.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $1,000 within your first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn miles. You'll earn 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1x points on everything else.
  • Anniversary points. You'll earn 3,000 points each year on your card anniversary.
  • No intro APR. This card doesn't feature an intro APR on purchases or balance transfers.
  • No priority boarding. You'll need to apply for a higher-tier Southwest card for this feature.
Annual Fee $69
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for traveling abroad
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$99
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Points
40,000
Points welcome offer
This card costs $99, which is $30 more than the entry-level card. However, you get 3,000 more anniversary bonus points worth around $30, effectively canceling out the annual fee difference. And since the card has no foreign transaction fees, you can easily carry it with you on your international travels.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.
  • Earn rewards. You'll earn 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1x points on everything else.
  • Anniversary points. You'll earn 6,000 points after each cardmember anniversary.
  • Similar to the Plus. Aside from the anniversary points and annual fee, this card is very similar to the entry-level Southwest offering.
  • No travel credit. Southwest doesn't offer a travel credit on this card.
Annual Fee $99
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases

Best Southwest card for the frequent flyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$149
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Points
40,000
Points welcome offer
This card has an annual fee of $149, which is higher than the other two personal credit cards. But you get 7,500 anniversary bonus points each year plus a $75 annual Southwest travel credit. The combined value of these two perks is $150, which offsets the annual fee. In addition, you get reimbursement for four upgraded boardings every year that could otherwise cost you between $30 and $50 on its own.
  • Anniversary points. This card earns the most anniversary points out of the Southwest consumer cards.
  • Travel credit. Enjoy a $75 travel credit each year.
  • Travel perks. The Southwest Priority Card offers more travel perks than it's siblings, including upgraded boardings and in-flight discounts.
  • Annual fee. This is the most expensive Southwest consumer card at $149 a year.
  • Varying credit lines. Depending on your credit score, you can either get a Visa Signature or Visa Platinum version of the card. The former carries a $5,000 minimum credit line while the latter carries a $2,000 minimum credit line.
Annual Fee $149
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for small businesses
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$99
Annual fee
Up to 2x
Points
60,000
Points welcome offer
With this card, you basically get the same perks as the personal Southwest credit cards, except you get to earn a higher signup bonus and access to additional employee cards at no cost.
  • Signup bonus. Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.
  • Anniversary points. Enjoy 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points each card anniversary.
  • Penalty APR. Miss a payment or end up with a returned payment and you may end up with a penalty APR of up to 29.99%.
  • High balance transfer fees. This card sports higher than average fees on balance transfers at the greater of $15 or 5%.
Annual Fee $99
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and 6,000 points after your card anniversary
Rewards 2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for large businesses
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.5 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$199
Annual fee
Up to 3x
Points
70,000
Points welcome offer
With an annual fee of $199, this card has the highest upfront cost compared to all Southwest credit cards. However, you can easily offset the annual fee with the annual points, statement credits and other perks this card offers. It also offers an accelerated 2x points on social media, internet, cable, phone and search engine services, which you won't find on the other Southwest cards.
  • Signup bonus.. Earn 70,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in your first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 in your first 6 months of account opening.
  • Statement credits. You get up to $100 in statement credit to cover for your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. You get this credit once every 4 years.
  • Anniversary points.You get 30,000 anniversary points worth $90.
  • Travel perks. Earn tier qualifying points, enjoy flight upgrades, and travel protections.
  • Annual fee. You'll pay $199 each year to use this card.
  • No intro APR on purchases. If you need a credit card to help fund your growing business, this card may not prove the best choice.
Annual Fee $199
Purchase APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 15.99% to 22.99% variable
Welcome offer 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, plus 30,000 points after spending $25,000 in the first 6 months
Rewards 3x points on Southwest Airlines, 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable, and phone services and 1x points on all other purchases
Note: You aren’t eligible for the signup bonus if you already own a Southwest credit card or if you have earned a Southwest signup bonus in the past 24 months.

Should I get a Southwest credit card?

It depends. If you’re itching to take advantage of these Southwest specific perks, or you want help earning a Southwest companion pass, picking up one of these cards could be a good idea. Note entry-level, mid-level and high-end Southwest cards all possess comparable perks and rewards, only slightly differing in a few features like anniversary points and travel credits.

If you’re looking for a card with greater earning potential, you’ll want to check out one of Chase’s other cards, particularly the newly updated Freedom cards. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® both earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points when you book travel through the Chase travel portal.

Since you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Airlines at a 1:1 value, you’ll be earning a much higher rate than the 2x points offered by the Southwest cards. And of course, the Freedom cards earn accelerated points in other categories as well, making them terrifically strong picks.

How to choose a Southwest credit card

Since the Southwest credit cards are so similar, your choice ultimately comes down to a few key factors. Ask yourself the following questions when deciding:

  • Do you need a personal card or a business card? This helps narrow down your options, as you have three choices for personal Southwest cards and two choices for business cards.
  • Are you concerned about the annual fee? All of the Southwest credit cards feature some form of annual fee. Unlike some other cobranded cards out there, the differences you’ll find for the price increase are relatively minor. The Priority and Performance cards being the exceptions, offering a few additional perks for the price over the lower-tier cards.
  • Do you plan on flying abroad? If so, stay away from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus. This is the only card in the lineup to feature foreign transaction fees.

Quick look at Southwest Airlines cards

Personal credit cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual fee $69 $99 $149
Reward points
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Signup bonus 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months. 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months. 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.
Anniversary points 3,000 6,000 7,500
Foreign transaction fee 3% 0% 0%
Priority boarding x x 4 per year when available
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit x x x
Southwest annual travel credit x x $75

Business credit cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Annual fee $99 $199
Reward points
  • 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable, and phone services
  • 1x points on all other purchases
Signup bonus Earn 60,000 bonus points once you spend $3,000 within your first 3 months of card membership Earn 70,000 bonus points once you spend $5,000 within your first 3 months of card membership. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.
Anniversary points 6,000 9,000
Foreign transaction fee 0% 0%
Priority boarding x 4 per year when available
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit x Up to $100 once every 4 years
Southwest annual travel credit x x

Alternatives to Southwest credit cards

You don’t have to get a Southwest Airlines credit card to earn Southwest points. For example, both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® let you earn accelerated points on travel and dining purchases, which you can later transfer to Southwest points in a 1:1 ratio.

These cards are a great option if you don’t fly exclusively with Southwest, as you can transfer your points to a variety of partner airlines. What’s more, general travel cards such as those listed above tend to earn reward points on a greater variety of categories than you’d find in a cobranded card.

Typical features of a Southwest Airlines credit card

The cool thing about all Southwest credit cards is that you get the same perks and features, even with entry-level cards. Here are the features you can expect:

  • Earn reward points.
    All credit cards except the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card earn 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1x points on everything else you buy.
  • Signup bonus.
    You get to earn a generous point bonus with all Southwest credit card offers. The personal credit cards offer the same signup bonus, while the business cards offer a slightly higher bonus.
  • First and second checked bag free.
    You don’t actually need a Southwest credit card for this perk. But if you plan on bringing additional bags, expect to pay $75 per bag.
  • Earn companion certificate.
    You can earn a Southwest companion pass by making 100 one-way flights or earning 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement.
    If something happens to your checked or carry-on bags, either being damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance.
    Whenever your bags are delayed for more than six hours by your carrier, you can get reimbursement for toiletries and clothing purchases up to $100 a day for three days.

How much are Southwest points worth?

The value of Southwest points largely depends on how you redeem them through the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. Redeeming points for Southwest flights has the highest redemption value, which comes at 1.3 cents per mile on average.

For example, a roundtrip flight between the two Southwest hubs Los Angeles (LAX) and Chicago (MDW) can cost you as low as 16,500 points or $190 on Wanna Get Away fare. That comes out to 1.1 cents per mile.

How can I earn Rapid Rewards points?

Aside from using a Southwest credit card to make purchases, you can earn Southwest points with the airline’s dining and shopping programs, with stays at partner hotels and with car rentals from partner companies.

How to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points for best value

To find the best deal you have to do the math yourself. Here’s how it works:

  1. Find the flight on the Southwest website.
  2. Find out how many miles you need to redeem.
  3. Find out how much the flight costs in cash.
  4. Divide the cash amount with the miles: $190/16,500 = 0.011, or 1.1 cents per mile.

The higher the number you get, the higher the value for your miles. Check out our full Rapid Rewards redemption guide for more information.

Southwest Airlines guides and resources

If you need more information on the perks and features available on Southwest Airlines, here are a few quick descriptions along with a link to our full guides:

  • Southwest companion pass. The coveted Southwest companion pass allows you to bring one companion along with you on a booked flight for an entire year, just for the price of fees and taxes. Because of this marked generosity, the Southwest companion pass is one of the most sought after companion passes on the market — and one of the more difficult to obtain.
  • Priority boarding. As the name suggests, Southwest priority boarding allows you to board your flight ahead of those without this feature, giving you ample time to choose your favorite seat.
  • Free checked bags. Southwest is one of the few airlines out there to offer up to two free checked bags per flight for all travelers.
  • Southwest shopping program. This shopping portal allows you to earn Rapid Rewards points by shopping with select Southwest Airlines partners.

Bottom line

Southwest credit cards can be an excellent addition to your wallet if you frequently fly with the airline. You get to earn the same signup bonus and reward points with all personal credit cards, and the perks often offset the annual fee.

But if you prefer other airlines, compare airline credit cards or general travel credit cards until you find a card that works for you.

Frequently asked questions

How does the Southwest Airlines shopping program work?

You have to visit the Southwest Airlines shopping portal and start making purchases. That way you can earn up to 30x points on popular stores like Apple, Adidas, Nike or Walmart.

Does Southwest Airlines reward program have elite tiers?

Yes, you can earn either an A-List or an A-List preferred elite tier.

Can I earn the signup bonus if I’ve already had this card?

No. You aren’t eligible for the signup bonus if you already own a Southwest credit card or if you have earned a Southwest signup bonus in the past 24 months.

Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

More guides on Finder

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