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TravelSouthwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card review: Full details

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card review: Full details


Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card on the market, which is either a strength or a weakness, depending on how you look at it. While the $69 annual fee is affordable, the Plus card lacks the perks offered by its higher-priced counterparts to keep you interested past the initial welcome bonus. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐

* Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

In a hobby that feels dominated by ultra-premium credit cards with $550-plus annual fees and laundry lists of luxury perks, it’s hard to imagine that a cobranded airline credit card with a $69 annual fee might be valuable to loyal Southwest customers.

However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card does make sense for some flyers — in some cases.

Southwest is no stranger to doing things differently, including offering three affordable personal credit cards. Before you apply, note that this card has a recommended credit score of 670 or above.

Let’s take a look at how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and its perks measure up against its higher-end siblings.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus pros and cons

Pros Cons
  • Earn 3,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary
  • Two EarlyBird Check-ins per year
  • Secondary car rental insurance and collision damage waiver
  • Travel protections
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Limited flight redemption opportunities
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • $69 annual fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus welcome offer

New applicants for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card can earn a Companion Pass (good through Feb. 28, 2025) plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.

The Southwest Companion Pass is different from the single-use companion certificates you’ll see on other airline cards. With a Southwest Companion Pass, you can add a companion to your Southwest reservation for free (plus applicable taxes and fees) on an unlimited number of Southwest Airlines flights for as long as you have the pass. Typically, you’d need to earn 135,000 tier-qualifying points (by flying Southwest or spending on cobranded credit cards) or complete 100 qualifying flights within a calendar year to get this perk.

But for a limited time, you can get one just by meeting the minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus on this card. You’ll also get 30,000 bonus points, which TPG values at $420. This is the best offer we’ve seen on this card, so we recommend jumping on it if you’ve been considering applying.

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THE POINTS GUY

Before you rush to apply for this card, there are two application rules to remember. First, the Southwest Plus card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more new credit card accounts (from any bank, not just Chase) in the past 24 months, you likely won’t be approved for this card.

Another limitation applies specifically to Southwest credit cards. If you have any personal Southwest credit card — or earned a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card in the last 24 months — you won’t be eligible for the bonus on this card.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit card application restrictions

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus benefits

There are perks on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card that go beyond the Companion Pass or the points from the sign-up bonus. You’ll enjoy the following ongoing benefits in exchange for the card’s $69 annual fee:

  • Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird check-ins every card anniversary
  • 3,000 bonus points each account anniversary year, worth $42 according to TPG’s valuations
  • 25% back on inflight purchases of drinks and Wi-Fi on Southwest Airlines flights
  • Roadside dispatch provides around-the-clock availability for roadside services, though you will pay for any services provided
STEPHEN M. KELLER/SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

Related: Battle of the airlines: Why I think Southwest Airlines is the best

Earning points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights and with Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners. This is a 2.8% return on spending based on TPG’s valuations.

You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting (including ride-hailing apps), 2 points per dollar on internet, cable and phone services, 2 points per dollar on select streaming services and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.

ARTISTGNDPHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

It’s worth pointing out that purchases outside the U.S. will still earn bonus points at these same rates, but you will pay a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Thus, this isn’t a good card for purchases in other countries.

Redeeming points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Redeem your Rapid Rewards points for Southwest flights to get the best value from them. Rapid Rewards also offers low-value redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise, hotel stays, rental cars and travel experiences. However, the redemption values on these options are much lower than what you’ll get when using your points for Southwest flights.

The airline offers four tiers of fares, ranging from the cheapest Wanna Get Away tickets to the more expensive Business Select option — with Wanna Get Away Plus and Anytime fares in between.

SOUTHWEST.COM

Award pricing is tied to the cash price of the tickets. Thus, the number of points you need will go up or down depending on the cash price of the flight. The positive is that using your points for Southwest flights is almost always possible.

You can maximize your points by taking advantage of Southwest’s regular flash sales to book or reprice flights. TPG credit cards writer Emily Thompson recently booked a round-trip ticket between Nashville (BNA) and San Jose, CA (SJC) for under 25,000 points. If you’re headed to one of Southwest’s destinations, you should be able to find a good deal for your points.

Related: How to redeem points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program

Which cards compete with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus?

The most obvious competitors to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card are the other Southwest credit cards. However, it’s also worth considering whether a general travel credit card might fit better in your wallet.

  • If you want more Southwest benefits with a modest fee: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has extra perks to justify its $99 annual fee. These include 6,000-anniversary bonus points, two EarlyBird check-ins per year, 25% back on inflight purchases and tier-qualifying points toward A-List status. For more details, read our full review of the Southwest Premier card.
  • If you fly Southwest regularly and want the most perks: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the premium Southwest credit card, offering 7,500-anniversary bonus points and a $75 Southwest travel credit each year. The card has a $149 annual fee. For more details, read our full review of the Southwest Priority card.
  • If you want more points that can be used with Southwest and in other ways: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good choice for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem with Southwest but also with other airline and hotel partners. You’ll also get numerous travel protections, and the card has a $95 annual fee. For more information, read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.

For more options, check out our full list of the best travel credit cards and best Chase credit cards.

Related: Comparing the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, Premier and Plus credit cards

STEPHEN M. KELLER/SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus worth it?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card has the lowest annual fee of the Southwest credit cards: $69 per year, so it’s a good option for those keeping annual fee costs low or just trying out Southwest. However, one of the other two personal cards will represent better value if you’re a loyal Southwest flyer.

Bottom line

For only $69 per year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card allows you to earn enough points to make it well worth the annual fee. Plus, it comes with a handful of benefits that can justify keeping the card in your wallet every year.

However, if you fly with Southwest often, one of the other two Southwest cards will provide additional perks. Be sure to evaluate what’s best for you beyond simply looking at the annual fee.


Apply here: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card




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