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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card review

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Solid earnings with a few valuable perks, but watch out for the annual fee.

finder.com’s rating: 3.5 / 5

★★★★★

  • Get this card if you’re a frequent Southwest flyer.
  • Pick something else if you travel infrequently.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 and above.

40,000

Points as welcome offer

$69

Annual fee

15.99% to 22.99%

Purchase APR (variable)

670

Recommended credit score

Details

Annual fee$69
Welcome Offer40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year
Rewards3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year, 2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
Purchase APR15.99% to 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR15.99% to 22.99% variable
Recommended minimum credit score670
IssuerVisa
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Review by


Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.

Expert review

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is an entry-level Southwest credit card. It comes with a $69 annual fee and 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary each year. This is worth around $40, which drops your annual fee to around $30.

The card now also earns 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. This is a strong welcome offer for an entry-level card and the dining bonus can help you earn points even when you’re not traveling.

You also get to earn 2x points on your Southwest purchases, which is in line with all Southwest credit cards, even the more expensive ones. But unlike the other Southwest cards, you’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use the card abroad.

If you’re an occasional Southwest flyer who travels mostly within the US, this could be a card worth considering.

How to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  1. Learn more about how to apply for Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.
  2. Complete the application with personal information like your name, contact details and financial details.
  3. Review your information and submit your application.

What credit score do I need?

As is common with airline credit cards, you’ll have a better chance of approval with a good to excellent credit score of 670 and above.

Card benefits

  • Signup bonus. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. This is a far cry from the card’s last signup bonus (a Companion Pass), but this bonus is far more attainable for occasional travelers.
  • Rewards. Earn 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases. Earn 1x points on all other purchases. This reward structure is geared toward frequent Southwest flyers. You can redeem points for flights, car rentals, hotel stays, gift cards, merchandise and experiences.
  • 3,000 points each card year. You’ll receive these points after your card anniversary. According to our valuation, they’re worth an average of $48.
  • Travel and purchase coverage. When you make eligible purchases with your card, you’ll be protected by lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, extended warranty protection and purchase protection.

I see a Travel with Transfarency benefit on the card page. Is that a card-exclusive perk?

On the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card page, you’ll see benefits like $0 first and second checked bags, $0 change fees and no hidden fees.

These benefits are included with every Southwest flight, even if you’re not a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card member.

What to watch out for

  • Annual fee. The card costs $69. Cobranded cards from low-cost carriers typically have similar annual fees. Other midtier airline cards often cost around $95 a year.
  • Signup bonus eligibility. You may not be eligible for the signup bonus if you already own a Southwest credit card or if you’ve received a new Southwest card signup bonus within the last 24 months. This doesn’t apply if you own a business card or an employee card.
  • Signup bonus may take time to earn. It may take up to eight weeks for your companion pass to post to your account. If you take all three months to earn it, you’re left with only seven months to use this perk. But given how travel is still limited during the first months of 2021, this may not be such a bad thing. You could use this period to earn the bonus and prepare to use it later on.
  • No intro APR period. You won’t get a 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No priority boarding. Being a cardmember won’t help you board your plane sooner. If this is a perk you value, consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card instead.

Is the annual fee worth it?

The card has a $69 annual fee that’s not waived for the first year.

To break even on it with rewards alone, you’ll need 4,313 points according to our valuation. That’s $2,157 spent on Southwest purchases or $4,313 spent on other purchases.

Of course, you’re more likely to have a mix of spending. Here’s a sample expense breakdown to earn 4,313 points.

CategoryAnnual spendingRewards ratePoints earned
Southwest purchases$5002x1,000
Other purchases$3,3131x3,313

Other benefits that could offset the annual fee

  • Signup bonus. Worth around $600, it could pay for your annual fee a few times over.
  • Annual point bonus. You’ll earn 3,000 points each year after your card anniversary, which can make a significant dent in the amount of points you need to earn.

The card’s travel and purchase protection can be valuable as well.

What should I know before I apply?

You can apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card if:

  • You’re at least 18 years old, 19 years old in Alabama and Nebraska or 21 in Puerto Rico.
  • You have a valid Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification number.

Required information

  • Full name
  • Mailing address, primary phone number and email address
  • Date of birth, Social Security number and mother’s maiden name
  • Residential status
  • Total gross annual income and primary source of income
  • Optional: Rapid Rewards number.

Compare airline credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a signup bonus worth $1,000 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $900 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards with Chase’s premier card.
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months, plus up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases, restaurants and at US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
With a welcome offer worth up to $560, up to 2x miles on select purchases, and assorted Delta perks, this is a strong choice for Delta fans. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card reviews and complaints

Some customers say Chase periodically changes the signup bonus for this card. You might find a bonus worth tens of thousands of points more or less depending on when you apply.

JPMorgan Chase Credit Card is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau but it has an A+ rating and a composite score of 1.18 out of 5 stars based on 229 customer reviews as of October 2020. Most customer complaints revolve around poor customer service and hidden costs Chase credit cards in general. Make sure you read your card’s terms and the rewards agreement to avoid issues with your account.

As of October 2020, Chase earns a Trustpilot score of 1.3 out of 5. Most negative reviews cite slow responses to fraud complaints and less-than-helpful customer service. Positive reviews cite the bank’s great mobile app and quick resolutions to their issues. Overall, your mileage may vary with Chase customer support.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Earn the signup bonus. Spend $1,000 within the first 3 months to qualify for the bonus. You can follow some of our tips to reach this spending requirement.
  • Register for an online account. You can register your card at the Chase website. Use your online account to check your balance and pay your bill.
  • Set up automatic payments. Automatic payments can help you avoid late fees and potential decreases to your credit score.
  • Avoid fees and interest. Late- and returned-payment fees can be as high as $39.

    After the close of each billing cycle, you’ll have at least 21 days to pay off your balance. If you do, you won’t be charged interest. To take advantage of this grace period, you must have started the billing period with a zero balance.

  • Contact customer service. If you have issues with your card, call Chase Card Services at 800-792-0001.

How do I redeem points from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card?

After each billing cycle, Chase will automatically transfer your points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.
Log in to your Rapid Rewards account on the Southwest Airlines website. You have a variety of redemption options for your Rapid Rewards points, including:

  • Flights
  • Hotel stays
  • Car rentals
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise
  • Experiences

Wanna Get Away flights will typically give you the best value on your points. For these fares, your points will usually be worth an average of 1.6 cents each.

How much are 40,000 Rapid Rewards points worth?

As of March 2021, Southwest points are worth an average of 1.5 cents each according to our valuations. This means 40,000 points are worth an average of $600.

What can you get for 40,000 points?

You can get a few one-way flights out of these points. Check out the Wanna Get Away award fares and you might find:

Origin/DestinationAward cost for one-way flight using Wanna Get AwayFees
Denver (DEN) to Las Vegas (LAS)4,694$5.60
Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (LGA)8,127$5.60
Atlanta (ATL) to Mexico City (MEX)8,736$33.29
Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to Seattle (SEA)17,705$5.60
Baltimore (BWI) to Nassau (NAS)26,832$5.60

How to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Bottom line

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card travels light on features. But to Southwest’s credit, the airline charges nothing in change fees or your first and second checked bags.

You’ll get the most out of the card’s rewards if you’re a frequent Southwest flyer who can make the most of the Rapid Rewards program. If you’re not, consider other airline cards.

Frequently asked questions

  • If I qualify for the signup bonus, when will I receive my points?
    The points will post to your Rapid Rewards account within eight weeks.
  • Is there a cap on the points I can earn from the card?
    No. You can earn unlimited points.
  • Do points expire?
    Points won’t expire as your card account remains open. If the account is closed, your points will expire unless you earn rewards from flights or partner spending at least once every 24 months.
  • Are there blackout dates on award flights?
    If you book with Rapid Reward points, there are no blackout dates.

Credit card ratings

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★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

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