Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review

southwest rapid rewards plus credit card

If you’re dreaming of your next getaway, make sure you have a good travel rewards credit card by your side. Frequent travelers can rack up a lot of reward points and enjoy various travel-related perks. You can save money and make your trips more enjoyable when you use a travel credit card to book. 

If you fly Southwest Airlines often, a Southwest rewards credit card may help you make the most of your travel spending. One credit card to consider is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Out of the three Southwest consumer credit cards, this one has the smallest annual fee at just $69.

Let’s take a closer look at how to earn and redeem rewards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Quick Facts: 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

. . .

Overview of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Out of the three co-branded Chase cards in the Rapid Rewards® family, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the most affordable in terms of the annual fee. As a result, it also has the least exciting perks and rewards. The welcome bonus is also the same for all three cards. 

Where these cards differ is the annual fee and reward structure. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card’s annual fee is just $69. However, this card earns less rewards in some categories than the other cards. You do have the potential to earn unlimited points, though, which is a significant perk associated with this card. 

Pros

  • Often runs Welcome Offer deals
  • Anniversary perk of 3,000 points
  • No reward caps

Cons

  • Limited redemption flexibility
  • Unimpressive travel perks
  • Charges foreign transaction fees

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Welcome Offer

Currently, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is offering new card holders 85,000 if they spend $3,000 on purchases with the card in the first three months from opening their account – this is the same offer on all Southwest’s card options.

It’s common for credit cards to have welcome offers that include a bonus if you spend a certain amount in the first few months, but the spending goal can sometimes be on the high side. However, $3,000 in three months can be pretty easy to hit depending on how you plan to use the card, making this a more lucrative welcome offer.

Earning Rewards

There are quite a few ways you can earn rewards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. To start, you earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on everyday purchases. Earn rewards consistently with everyday purchases, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus shines in travel and niche spending categories.

You can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on the following types of purchases:

  • Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • Local transit and commuting (including rideshare)
  • Internet, cable, and phone services
  • Select streaming services

You also automatically earn 3,000 points every year on your cardmember anniversary and you don’t have to spend anything to get those points. 

Redeeming Rewards

Earning rewards is all well and good, but only if you can redeem those rewards in a way that benefits you financially — especially when you have to pony up for an annual fee. Once you earn reward points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, there are a few different paths you can take to redeem them. However, you do need to pay attention to the limitations of these redemption options. 

Since this is a Southwest Airlines-affiliated credit card, it will come as no surprise you can redeem your points to book flights with this airline. You can choose between 121 different destinations when booking domestically, but you can only book with Southwest Airlines for these flights. Where you have more flexibility is with international flights, as this credit card allows you to redeem your points when booking flights with any of Southwest’s partners. 

Hotel and rental car redemptions also have limitations, as these bookings must go through the More Rewards platform. You do have the option to redeem points on select event bookings, merchandise purchases, and gift cards, too, although these redemptions don’t deliver as much value for your points. There is no cash-back option, which can be frustrating if you like to keep your rewards simple, but again, that wouldn’t be the most lucrative redemption option anyway.

Card Benefits

To get the most out of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you really need to commit to flying with Southwest Airlines frequently. Unlike other travel credit cards that offer access to swanky airport lounges or give you credits for TSA PreCheck enrollment, this credit card only offers travel perks that help you out when you fly with this airline:

  • 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points boost annually
  • Two EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Woman holding her phone and luggage: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review

Who Should Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card only makes sense if you are a very loyal Southwest Airlines flier. Consequently, you need to have a good number of Southwest Airlines flights coming in and out of your local airports, and you have to travel fairly often to make paying the $69 annual fee worthwhile.

Think about how often you plan to fly with Southwest Airlines in the next year before applying for this credit card. While you can’t predict how much you will travel with a specific airline for many years to come, if you will easily earn enough rewards in the coming year to balance out the cost of the annual fee, that’s a good indicator this credit card will work well for you. 

Who Shouldn’t Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card?

Global jetsetters should think again. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is not a great fit for international travelers as this credit card does charge foreign transaction fees when you make purchases abroad. Not to mention, world travelers probably want a credit card with more serious travel perks like access to airport lounges for long layovers. 

Frequent travelers who look for the best deals or the shortest flights may also want to choose a travel rewards card that gives more flexibility in terms of which airlines you can book with. 

Finally, if you don’t find yourself booking flights all that often, you are likely better off with a cash-back credit card that rewards everyday purchases, like gas and groceries, more heavily. 

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Here’s how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier and other cards compare:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

southwest rapid rewards premier credit card

Another option you have when it comes to Southwest Airlines credit cards is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This credit card does come with a slightly higher annual fee of $99. You earn a bigger anniversary bonus each year (6,000 points instead of 3,000) and you get 3 points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines bookings instead of 2 points. 

Paying more for the annual fee may make sense if you book often enough with this airline to earn the points necessary to balance out the annual fee.

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

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

southwest rapid rewards priority credit card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most expensive card in the Rapid Rewards® family with a high $149 annual fee. This fee may be worth it if you fly with Southwest Airlines often, thanks to the higher rewards rate of 3 points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines bookings, compared to the 2 points you will earn with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. You also earn more than double when it comes to the yearly anniversary perk  — you’ll get a boost of 7,500 points each year. 

Don’t let the annual fee scare you off too much. A nice perk of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the $75 Southwest annual travel credit. This credit covers half of the annual fee, making this card more affordable than it seems at first glance. You can use your travel credit each year to book a flight and take the money saved on your flight and put it toward the annual fee.

With this line of thinking, you will spend $74 out of pocket on the annual fee, which is only a few dollars more than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card annual fee of $69 a year. 

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

chase sapphire preferred

Of course, when looking for a credit card that rewards travel bookings, you don’t have to go with a Southwest Airlines credit card. You may find a more flexible credit card gets you further.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to transfer your rewards points to a handful of different airline partners, as well as hotel partners. One of these partners is Southwest Airlines, so if you fly this airline frequently but not exclusively, this credit card may be a great fit. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does come with an annual fee of $95, but you get a $50 Chase Travel℠ hotel credit each year, which can help cancel out some of this fee. Because hotel bookings can often cost a lot more than flights when you stay for a couple of days, this card’s higher hotel earnings structure may appeal to you. You can earn 5 points for every $1 spent on hotel bookings made through Chase Travel℠ (the same goes for rental cars). 

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or read our full review.

Final Thoughts

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is geared towards loyal Southwest customers, with 2X points on Southwest purchases, and perks like bonus points for each account anniversary and two EarlyBird Check-In® each year.

However, if you don't have lots of Southwest routes coming in and out of your local airport or only fly Southwest occasionally, then you may want to consider another airline or travel credit card that will better suit your trip planning.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.


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.