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Credit Cards

Three Southwest credit cards have a 50,000-point welcome bonus

Save on upcoming trips with a welcome bonus from one of these three Southwest cards.

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Source: Getty Images

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit card welcome bonus mentioned below is no longer available.

Airline prices have recently skyrocketed but that hasn't stopped travelers from booking flights. According to Deloitte's 2022 summer travel survey, 51% of travelers plan to fly as part of their upcoming vacation. However, some travelers are opting to stay home as the survey also states that money concerns are the top reason people aren't traveling this summer.

Although airline tickets now exceed pre-pandemic prices, there are still ways for you to save on travel by using points and miles. Credit card welcome bonuses, including three from Southwest credit cards mentioned below, allow you to quickly earn a heap of rewards to use for nearly free travel.

Below, Select highlights the three credit card welcome bonuses and how you can maximize your Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

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Southwest credit card welcome offers

With each of the Southwest credit cards below, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Note that each of the cards below are designed for specific travelers with different needs and spending habits, so be sure to find the one that matches your needs.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the most economical card of the three as it has a modest $69 annual fee. This card is great for someone who travels a few times per year, or less.

As you spend on the card, you'll earn:

  • 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, phone services, and select streaming
  • Earn 1X point on all other purchases

The card also has solid benefits for cardholders, including:

  • 3,000 points every year on your Cardmember anniversary (those points are worth about $40)
  • Two EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • Consumer protections like purchase protection and extended warranty protection

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a mid-tier card with a step up in benefits and features from the Plus card. The card comes with a slightly-higher $99 annual fee, but earns more points on Southwest purchases and allows you to earn points towards Southwest elite status.

As you spend on the card, you'll earn:

  • Earn 3X 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, phone services, and select streaming
  • Earn 1X point on all other purchases

The card also comes with:

  • 6,000 points every year on your Cardmember anniversary (those points are worth about $80)
  • Two EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • Unlimited tier qualifying points (TQPs): Earn 1,500 TQPs toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend–there is no limit on the amount of TQPs you can earn
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • Consumer protections like purchase protection and extended warranty protection

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the top-tier Southwest consumer credit card as it comes with better benefits but a higher $149 annual fee.

As you spend on the card, you'll earn:

  • Earn 3X 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, phone services, and select streaming
  • Earn 1X point on all other purchases

These are the same spending categories as the Premier card, but the Priority card has more valuable benefits.

  • 7,500 points every year on your Cardmember anniversary (those points are worth about $98)
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Unlimited tier qualifying points (TQPs): Earn 1,500 TQPs toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend–there is no limit on the amount of TQPs you can earn
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

How to maximize your Southwest points

If you're approved for one of the above Southwest cards, it's important to not only earn the points responsibly but to also use them efficiently. So as you earn more Southwest rewards on your purchases, keep these tips in mind to stretch the value of your points.

Aim for Companion Pass status

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable loyalty program perks available from a commercial airline. While other airlines offer benefits like first-class upgrades and lounge access, Southwest gives you the ability to bring a companion with you on your travels for "free", all you have to do is pay the taxes of the ticket. Here's how you can earn it.

To earn the Companion Pass, you must hit one of two milestones:

  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights on Southwest
  • Earn 125,000 qualifying points in a full calendar year.

For most people, flying 100 one-way flights in a year is not realistic, so earning 125,000 points is likely the better option. Fortunately the points can be earned from spending (and welcome bonuses) on any of the Southwest cards.

So in theory, between the welcome bonus and spending on the card, you can earn the Companion Pass just through a Southwest credit card.

And with airline prices soaring, this benefit is extremely valuable. I recently used my Companion Pass to book flights for my girlfriend and I and saved nearly $800 on her ticket alone. All I had to do was pay for my flight with my Southwest miles, and then pay for the taxes and fees for her ticket.

So if you regularly travel with someone else, consider trying to earn this perk to save on future flights.

Consider pairing with a card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points

While the Southwest cards offer solid value, they can be a bit limiting as you can only redeem your points with Southwest. However, after earning the welcome bonus, you could transition your spending to either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as both cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points — which are transferable to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, in addition to a over a dozen other hotel and airline partners.

This can give you the flexibility to earn valuable rewards, while not tying yourself to only one airline.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Terms apply.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    22.49% - 29.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

  • Terms apply.

 

Bottom line

Airline ticket prices are soaring with no sign of slowing down. And as summer travel is here, having points and miles in your pocket is a great strategy to avoid paying inflated prices.

However, before you apply for a travel credit card, be sure to check your credit score to make sure it's up to snuff. Without a solid credit score, it may be difficult to get one of the cards listed above.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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