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If you're a frequent Southwest Airlines flier, a Southwest Airlines credit card may be for you. You can earn points on everyday purchases, which are multiplied when you spend money on Southwest, transit and commuting, and certain utilities. Each card has its own set of additional benefits that could be valuable, depending on your travel preferences. Southwest Airlines also has business credit cards, so business owners can reap the benefits of their preferred airline on business purchases.
Here are the best credit cards available today:
Of all Southwest Airlines credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card offers the most benefits for air travelers, though it has a $149 annual fee. You save 25% on inflight purchases, are eligible for four annual upgraded boardings if available, and receive $75 in Southwest travel credits per year. With this card, points earned can help you gain A-list status, which gives priority boarding and check-in and same-day standby status.
The Priority credit card gives you multiple ways to amplify your purchases and gain points faster. All purchases earn at least 1 point per dollar spent. Hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting; and streaming, internet, cable, and phone bills earn 2 points. All Southwest purchases earn 3 points per dollar spent. Every year on your Cardmember anniversary, you'll also receive 7,500 points.
If you don't fly often but still prefer Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card may be a good fit. With a $99 annual fee, it comes with the same intro bonus as the Priority credit card. You'll also earn the same rewards points in multiple categories and have no foreign transaction fees.
The Premier credit card earns 6,000 points annually on your Cardmember anniversary and is eligible for unlimited tier qualifying points to reach A-list status. Purchases made inflight get 25% cashback and Premier credit cardholders get two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year.
If you prefer domestic air travel to foreign air travel, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card may be a better fit. This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee, which can add up when you fly internationally. However, it has the lowest annual fee of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards at $69 per year. This card also has the same intro bonus and category multipliers, but only earns 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases.
Each year, cardholders receive 3,000 anniversary points in their Rapid Rewards account. The Plus card is not eligible for tier qualifying points, so you may not get to A-list status as fast as you would with the Premier or Priority credit cards. But you'll still earn 25% cashback when making inflight purchases and get two EarlyBird Check-Ins each year the card remains active.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card allows established business owners the chance to turn everyday business purchases into free travel or other rewards. You earn 1 point per dollar for all purchases and 2 points per dollar for cable, internet, and phone bills, as well as social media and search engine advertising. Every dollar spent on local transit and commuting, plus ridesharing, earns 2 points. Southwest Airlines purchases earn the most points for this card at 4 points per dollar spent.
This card comes with the highest annual fee of $199, but you can earn 80,000 points when you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months after opening the card. There are other benefits to this business credit card, including a $500 fee credit when you transfer points to an existing Rapid Rewards member, up to 365 annual credits for inflight Wi-Fi, four upgraded boardings if available on your flight, and a credit up to $100 on your application fee every four years when applying for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS.
Points can be redeemed for travel and other options, like gift cards and shopping in the Rapid Rewards portal, and there are no blackout dates when redeeming for travel.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card is an option for new business owners who can't meet the higher initial spending requirements of the Performance card. After spending $3,000 in the first three months, you can earn 60,000 bonus points. The Premier Business card comes with a $99 annual fee, which may also be more affordable newer businesses.
The Premier Business card earns the same rewards points per category, except Southwest Airlines purchases earn 3 points per dollar spent. With this card, you can get 25% cashback when making purchases inflight and get up to $500 in statement credits when you transfer points to an existing Rapid Rewards member. You would also be eligible for two EarlyBird Check-Ins each year and receive 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card. When you reach 35,000 TPQs, you can get A-list status, and earning 70,000 TPQs makes you eligible for A-list Preferred status.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is ZDNet's top pick because it offers an annual travel credit, upgraded boardings, and unlimited tier qualifying points on everyday spending.
To find the right credit card for you, consider what you want the card to do for you. For instance, if you want to travel cheaply, a rewards card that earns points towards flights, hotels, and rental cars may be a good choice. If you prefer a specific airline or hotel, getting a branded credit card, like a Southwest Rapid Rewards card, may offer better rewards than a general card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
When choosing a credit card, you should evaluate the details before applying. Consider the annual fee, APR, bonus earning requirements, and other benefits to find the card that best fits your needs. If you want a Southwest card with a low annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card is your best choice. But if you want to reap the most rewards and don't qualify for a business card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card may be a better choice.
You can also check your credit score and history to determine what credit card you are most likely to be approved for. The better your credit score, the more credit card options you'll have. But you can still get approved for a credit card if you have poor credit or are rebuilding your credit.
A Southwest Airlines credit card is a good option if you like to travel by airplane and prefer Southwest Airlines. With a Southwest card, you can earn points on everyday purchases to get free flights and other rewards. A Southwest card can also provide purchase and travel protection, like auto rental collision damage waivers, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and extended warranty protection.
The highest bonus for a Southwest Airlines credit card right now is on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business credit card. If you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months on purchases, you'll earn 80,000 points. For non-business owners, each of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards earns 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening the card.
With a Southwest Rapid Rewards card, 35,000 qualifying points (see details) will make you an A-List Member. This grants you reserved check-in, a 25% earning bonus on all qualifying Southwest flights, and more.
To become an A-List Preferred Member, you need 70,000 qualifying points (see details). Additional benefits include inflight Wi-Fi on equipped planes, a 100% earning bonus on all qualifying Southwest flights, and more.
A Chase Southwest Airlines credit card is not hard to get if you have good or excellent credit. The higher your credit score, the better your chances are of getting approved for a Chase Southwest card. To increase your chances of getting a card, make sure to pay all your bills on time, keep your debt-to-income ratio low, and avoid applying for too many cards in a short time period.
To find the best Southwest Airlines credit cards, we compared several features:
These credit cards for travel are also good options: