Finder may earn compensation from partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

Best Southwest Airlines credit cards

Pick the right card to maximize your Southwest miles.

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

Finder rating 3.5 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
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.

Best for traveling abroad

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Finder rating 3.6 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
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.

Best Southwest card for the frequent flyer

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

See offer
on Creditcards.com's secure site
Terms apply, see rates & fees
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.

Best for small businesses

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

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.

Best for large businesses

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Finder rating 4.5 / 5 ★★★★★

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 spent on social media, internet, cable, phone and search engine services, which you won't find on the other Southwest cards.
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 long-term 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.

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.

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 CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest 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 Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 3 months.
Anniversary points3,0006,0007,500
Foreign transaction fee3%0%0%
Priority boardingxx4 per year when available
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee creditxxx
Southwest annual travel creditxx$75

Business credit cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit CardSouthwest 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 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months. Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months.
Anniversary points6,0009,000
Foreign transaction fee0%0%
Priority boardingx4 per year when available
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee creditxUp to $100 once every 4 years
Southwest annual travel creditxx

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. But for a limited time, you can also earn a companion pass that lasts through 2/28/2022 when you meet the spending requirements. The potential value you can wring out of this is phenomenal and possibly the best on the market when it comes to signup bonuses..
  • 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. Your credit card can help you meet the qualifying points bonus.
  • 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 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

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and finder.com Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site