Best Southwest Credit Cards in June 2024

Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular airlines for domestic travelers in the U.S., with a very loyal fan base.

If you're one of those fans, then having a Southwest credit card in your wallet can help you score points for future flights. Plus, earning a Southwest Companion Pass allows anyone of your choice — a spouse, partner, child, or close friend — to fly with you on your next flight for just the cost of taxes and fees.

Erika's Picks for Best Southwest Credit Cards

  • Best for beginners: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Best for frequent flyers: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Best for budget travelers: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Best for business travelers: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

. . .

Best for Beginners: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • Rewards rate: 2x points on Southwest Airlines purchases; 2x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental purchases; 2x points on local transit, rideshare, internet, cable, phone, and select streaming; 1x points on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $69
southwest rapid rewards plus credit card

. . .

If you’re looking for a Southwest starter card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a great card for beginners. It offers a high sign-up bonus, a low annual fee, and lucrative rewards potential.

In addition to earning points on your spending, you can earn extra points throughout the year. Every anniversary, you’ll be eligible to earn 3,000 points. Plus, you’ll get 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points each year too.

This card also comes with a few perks that can make your next flight easier. You’ll be eligible for two EarlyBird Check-Ins® each year and you’ll get 25% back on eligible inflight purchases. With Southwest, you won’t be charged a bag fee and there aren’t any restrictions on how you use your reward points to book flights. 

When you book a flight with the Rapid Rewards Plus card, you’re also covered for up to $3,000 per passenger for lost luggage. If there’s a delay in your baggage, you’ll be eligible for baggage delay insurance, which covers essentials like clothing, up to $100 per day for three days.

There are other perks you’ll get beyond Southwest. The card provides extended warranty protection and purchase protection for new purchases that are damaged or stolen (up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account).

While many entry-level travel cards don’t come with an annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card does. But if you plan to take several Southwest flights in a year, the extra points and benefits can more than cover the cost of the annual fee.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or read our full review.

Best for Frequent Flyers: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • Rewards rate: 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases; 2x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental purchases; 2x points on local transit, rideshare, internet, cable, phone, and select streaming; 1x points on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $149
southwest rapid rewards priority credit card

. . .

For experienced Southwest flyers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with more opportunities to earn points and a higher rewards rate.

Every year, you'll qualify for a $75 Southwest travel credit. You’ll also be eligible for 7,500 extra points and 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points.

This card offers some of the same travel perks as the Rapid Rewards Plus Card. For example, you won’t be charged a bag fee, you’ll get 25% back on eligible inflight purchases, and there aren’t any restrictions on using your reward points to book flights. 

However, the Rapid Rewards Priority card comes with four upgraded boardings every year as well as the ability to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $5,000 you spend in purchases annually. 

You also get lost luggage coverage (up to $3,000 per passenger) and baggage delay coverage (up to $100 per day for three days). Plus, extended warranty protection and purchase protection.

With its annual fee, this card is a bit more expensive to hold in your wallet. It’s only worth it if you plan to use the annual travel credit or can earn the 3x reward for Southwest purchases. One important thing to note: the annual fee is charged upfront. Expect it to hit on your first billing statement.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or read our full review.

Best for Budget Travelers: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  • Rewards rate: 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases; 2x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental purchases; 2x points on local transit, rideshare, internet, cable, phone, and select streaming; 1x points on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $99
southwest rapid rewards premier credit card

. . .

If you’re looking for a card that’s between the Rapid Rewards Plus and the Rapid Rewards Priority, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card could be a good fit for you.

It comes with a mid-range annual fee and the same sign-up bonus. Plus, you’ll still get to take advantage of 6,000 bonus points every anniversary.

The card offers two EarlyBird Check-Ins® every year as well as 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $5,000 you spend.

Like Southwest’s other cards, you’ll also earn 10,000 Companion Pass points each year too. And you’ll get the same travel perks, like no foreign transaction fees, free checked bags, no change fees, and lost and delayed luggage insurance.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or read our full review.

Best for Business Travelers: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

  • Rewards rate: 4x points on Southwest® purchases (including flights, inflight purchases, and Southwest gift cards); 3x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners; 2x points on local transit and commuting, social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone service; 1x points for all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual fee: $199

. . .

Of all of Southwest’s travel rewards cards, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is arguably the best. It offers the most opportunities to earn rewards and a generous welcome bonus.

You'll get access to four upgraded boardings per year, and you can use up to 365 inflight wifi credits and receive 9,000 bonus points every anniversary as well. You’ll also earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $5,000 spent, with no limit and a $500 fee credit for points transfers when you transfer points to another Rapid Rewards member (up to $500 in statement credits per anniversary year). 

Along with extended warranty protection, purchase protection, and insurance coverage for lost and delayed luggage, you’ll also be able to issue free employee cards to earn points on employee spending.

The Performance Business card comes with a special perk that can make frequent business travel a breeze: a fee credit of up to $100 every four years for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS applications. 

Learn more about the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card.


How To Choose a Southwest Credit Card

One of the biggest factors in choosing a Southwest credit card is the annual fee. All Southwest cards come with one, so you’ll want to evaluate the costs and benefits of the card before forking over the cash to keep it in your wallet.

The two cards with the lowest annual fees are the Rapid Rewards Plus and the Rapid Rewards Premier. Both offer the same sign-on bonus of 50,000 after spending $1,000 in the first three months, and both come with similar Southwest benefits, like checking in a bag for free.

The Rapid Rewards Premier card gives you a higher anniversary bonus and the ability to earn points towards getting status with Southwest. If you’ll benefit from these added perks, it could be worth the extra cost.

Aside from determining whether or not the points are worth the annual fee, you’ll also want to see if you will use the benefits. The Rapid Rewards Priority card, for example, has a higher annual fee and comes with upgraded boardings each year. If you don’t plan to use those — or if that isn’t important to you — you might be better off choosing a card with a lower annual fee.

One last factor to consider before choosing a Southwest card is your access to destinations where Southwest flies. Southwest offers flights in South and Central America but you won’t find flights across the pond. If international travel is part of your itinerary, you might want to consider a general travel rewards card that has flexible options.

How To Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest’s Companion Pass is great if you travel with friends or family since it allows you to travel with someone else for just the cost of taxes and fees. If you travel frequently, the savings can add up fast.

While some travelers aspire to earn status on their preferred airline, Southwest flyers aim to earn the Companion Pass. To qualify, you’ll need to rack up 135,000 Rapid Rewards points or book 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year.  Each card comes with 10,000 points you can put toward the Companion Pass when you open a new account.

After you earn it, it’s good for the rest of the year that you apply and the full following year. If you’re eyeing the Companion Pass, be strategic about when you apply for a Southwest card. For example, if you earn the Companion Pass in January 2024, you'll have it for nearly all of 2024 and all of 2025. But if you earn it in June 2024, you'll only get half of 2024 and all of 2025.

READ MORE: Ultimate Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass

Who Should Get a Southwest Credit Card?

Southwest credit cards are designed for frequent flyers who do a lot of domestic travel. The rewards program awards the highest points for travel booked with Southwest and points are only redeemable on Southwest flights. It’s also good for couples or families who could benefit from the savings offered by the Companion Pass.

While the Rapid Rewards Performance Business card offers great benefits for business travelers, it might not be the best choice for all business travel. Southwest doesn’t maintain any lounges and the inflight perks aren’t as competitive as other airlines.

Pros and Cons of Southwest Credit Cards

Before selecting a Southwest credit card, evaluate the benefits to make sure it’s the right card for your wallet.

Pros

  • Companion Pass: You won’t find this perk with any other airline. The Companion Pass allows you to bring a guest on your trip for just the cost of taxes and fees.
  • Free checked bags: Regardless of whether or not you have status, everyone who flies Southwest gets to check a bag for free.
  • Family-friendly seating: Southwest offers Family Boarding for adults traveling with children under the age of six.
  • Anniversary points: All cards come with anniversary points that you can put toward future flights.

Cons

  • Limited destinations: Southwest is great if you want to fly domestically, but it isn’t a good option for international travel.
  • Annual fees: There isn’t a no-fee Southwest credit card. Expect to pay in the first billing cycle to keep a Southwest card in your wallet.
  • No lounges: Lounge access is a major perk for most airline credit cards, but you won’t get lounge access if you fly Southwest. 
  • Transfer fees and value loss: The good news is that if you want to transfer Southwest points to family members or travel partners, you can. The bad news is it isn’t always worth it. Southwest will charge you a fee for points you transfer to family and friends. And if you opt to transfer points to a travel partner, they might depreciate in value.

FAQs

Is there a Southwest card with no annual fee?

No, Southwest does not offer a credit card without an annual fee. The cheapest card you can get is the Rapid Reward Plus card, which costs $69 per year.

How much are Southwest Airlines points worth?

There isn’t a standard value for points and the redemption value can vary based on when you travel and where you travel. Typically, Southwest points come out to around 1.5 cents each.

Final Thoughts

If you're a fan of Southwest, getting a Southwest credit card can make a big difference in your travels — especially if you're able to qualify for the Companion Pass. But if you prefer international travel over domestic, and like the flexibility to pick and choose different airlines, then you may benefit from a general travel credit card instead.


Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.