At Experian, one of our priorities is consumer credit and finance education. This post may contain links and references to one or more of our partners, but we provide an objective view to help you make the best decisions. For more information, see our Editorial Policy.
In this article:
There are three Southwest consumer credit cards for fans of the airline, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of the bunch. It also offers the fewest benefits, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, you don't want to pay for benefits you never wind up using.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
21.49% - 28.49% variable
Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.
2x Points on Local Transit
2x Points on Internet, Cable, Phone & Streaming Services
1x Points on All Other Purchases
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 3,000 anniversary points each year.
- Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
- Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
- Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
- 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
- Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Member FDIC
|Receive extra points each year||Annual fee and foreign transaction fees|
|Lowest annual fee of the three Southwest cards||Modest rewards on purchases|
|Few cardholder benefits|
|Chase Customer Service|
P.O. Box 15298
If you enjoy flying Southwest Airlines and don't want to spend $99 or more on credit card annual fees, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could be right up your alley. It offers a large intro bonus and an extra 3,000 Rapid Rewards® points every cardholder anniversary. However, there's still a $69 annual fee, so you'll want to make sure the benefits will outweigh the cost.
Get Double Points for Southwest Flights
While you can earn points using your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the card doesn't offer a great standard earnings rate on all purchases. You get 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights. Get 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. By comparison, there are cash back credit cards that offer 1.5% to 2% cash back on every purchase and don't have an annual fee.
Earn Bonus Points Each Year
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers one Southwest-specific perk: You will get 3,000 bonus points each cardholder anniversary year. If each point is worth 1.5 cents, that means the anniversary bonus is worth $45, less than the card's $69 annual fee.
The other Southwest cards offer more anniversary points, but also charge higher annual fees. If you want a Southwest card with a low annual fee and you rarely travel outside the country (or have a different card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees), the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card may be your best option.
But for an extra $30 each year, you can get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and get 6,000 anniversary bonus points a year. That 6,000-point bonus is worth about $90, which is much closer to that card's $99 annual fee. Plus, the card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, and it gives you a path toward earning elite status through credit card purchases.
|Rewards from purchases|
|Bonus points each cardmember year||3,000|
|Foreign transaction fee||3%|
|Earn tier qualifying points (TQPs) from purchases||No|
|Additional Southwest benefits||No|
If you fly often, the high-end Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could be worth the $149 annual fee. You get a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, bringing your effective cost down to $74, and you receive 7,500 anniversary points—worth about $112.50.
You can also use the card for in-flight Southwest drinks and Wi-Fi and get a statement credit for 20% of your purchase. You'll also get statement credits for up to four upgraded boarding purchases ($30 to $50 each) every year.
Receive Travel and Purchase Protections
Although the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of the three Southwest cards, it offers the same travel and purchase protections as the other two cards.
With all three, the benefits change slightly depending on if you get approved for a Visa Signature version of the card, which has a minimum $5,000 credit limit, or a Visa Platinum version with a lower credit limit. With the Visa Platinum version, you don't receive travel and emergency assistance services and get a lower limit for the travel accident insurance.
The travel and purchase protections include:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: Will cover you if a vehicle you rent is stolen or damaged and your primary insurance doesn't cover all the costs.
- Roadside dispatch: Call to get connected to a roadside dispatch service with pre-negotiated rates.
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Receive the cash value for items that are lost, stolen or damaged while you're traveling—up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Baggage delay insurance: If your bags are delayed for more than six hours, you can get up to $100 daily (three days maximum) for eligible emergency supplies.
- Travel accident insurance: If you lose a limb or die while traveling, the insurance may pay up to $250,000 or up to $500,000 for Visa Signature cardholders.
- Travel and emergency assistance services: Only available with the Visa Signature version, the assistance services can help connect you with medical, legal, translation and transportation services while you're traveling, but won't help you pay for it.
- Extended warranty protection: Get up to one extra year of warranty coverage on items that you purchase. To qualify, their original warranty must be for three years or less and meet other eligibility requirements for the program.
- Purchase protection: You can get up to $500 per incident (up to $50,000 per account) if something you buy with your card gets lost or stolen within 120 days.
These benefits may be available on other Visa Platinum and Signature cards, and you may be able to get additional benefits from Visa if you're a Signature cardholder. The protections also are often only available if you used your card for the purchase or to book travel.
There's no fee to add an authorized user to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. The person will receive a card that they can use for purchases, but you'll be responsible for paying the bill for transactions from both the primary and authorized user cards. Additionally, the authorized user's purchases can earn points that will be added to your Rapid Rewards® account.
Is This Card Right for You?
With its $69 annual fee and only a few benefits, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card might not be a great fit for many people. The most exciting feature is the intro bonus provides a lot of value relative to the card's annual fee. However, you may be better off with a different card you're looking for one that offers great ongoing rewards and benefits.
For frequent Southwest flyers, that could be the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. If you rarely fly or want more varied earnings and redemption options, consider a general travel rewards card or cash back card.