Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Review

If you’re a Southwest Airlines fan, you have good to excellent credit, and you love the idea of quickly chalking up travel rewards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card may be the one for you.

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is a low-fee travel rewards card. With its moderately priced annual fee, large number of bonus points, and anniversary points, you’ll be well on your way to earning vacations that won’t break the bank.

JPMorgan Chase, the card’s issuer, has been around since the 1800s. The bank is considered a leader in investments, financial services, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management.

The Essentials of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • APR: Variable 17.49% – 24.49%
  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Primary feature: 2x points on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Introductory bonus offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

What’s Interesting about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

You’ll earn points on purchases of products and services. The double points for purchases made directly with Southwest Airlines® and participating Rapid Rewards® hotel/rental car partners add up quickly. In addition, 3,000 bonus points are added to your account each year on the date of your card anniversary.

The Rapid Rewards® Plus card has no blackout dates and never limits reward seats when you book using your points. Your points can be redeemed for more than just flights. You can also use them for hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, merchandise, and access to exclusive events.

Here’s another bonus travelers will love: Rapid Rewards lets you enjoy “Travel with Transfarency®.” You’ll pay $0 for your first and second checked bags (weight and size limits apply). Card also owners pay $0 for a change fee, although fare differences may apply.
Other built-in benefits are lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, extended warranty protection, and purchase protection. Even the card itself is a bonus thanks to its contactless interface. Just tap to pay for fast, easy, and secure checkout wherever you see the contactless symbol.

Things to Consider

Some card users find it somewhat challenging to find all the relevant information in relation to the rewards points that accumulate from using this card, such as how many points they currently have, what they can get with them, and where to redeem them.
Since there is an annual fee and the interest rate could be prohibitive for those who can’t pay the balance each month, this card may only make sense if you fly Southwest exclusively, or at least often.

You’ll occasionally receive special offers in emails sent that are sent to Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus members. You should take a look as soon as they arrive since some of those offers may expire quickly.

Additionally, this card does have a foreign transaction fee, which could be bothersome if you’re out of the country often.

How to Get the Most from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Flying exclusively on Southwest Airlines is going to earn you the best rewards (i.e. double the points you’ll earn on other purchases). But even the one point per $1 you earn on everyday purchases adds up to travel opportunities your budget may not normally allow.

The annual fee isn’t large compared to many travel cards, but it’s also not complimentary like some of the other travel rewards cards. The perk of no charge to check two bags alone is going to save you quite a bit of cash (watch the weight and size though, or you could pay extra).

Plan to pay off the balance each month to avoid an APR that’s fairly steep, especially for those card users whose credit isn’t excellent. You can earn up to 50,000 bonus points per year by referring friends — 10,000 bonus points for each friend or business (up to five) that gets approved for a participating Southwest Rapid Rewards card.

Other Card Options that Might Interest You

If you won’t be traveling as much, are okay with traveling on United Airlines, and you prefer not to pay an annual fee, you may want to look at the United TravelBank Card. Here’s how it works.

You get $150 in United TravelBank cash added to your account after spending $1,000 on purchases the first three months. You’ll earn 2% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United and 1.5% in TravelBank cash per $1 spent on all other purchases. Each dollar in TravelBank cash equals $1 to be used toward the purchase of a ticket on flights operated by United.

Inflight savings are available too, with 25% back (as a statement credit) on purchases of food, beverages, and Wi-Fi onboard United®-operated flights when you pay with the United TravelBank Card.

Three times the points are awarded for several categories with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. Not only do you earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months, but card users get three times the points on eating out or ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, and transit. Users also get three times the points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals. Earn one times the points for other purchases.

The Final Word

Lovers of Southwest Airlines are likely to jump at the bonuses and perks offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Customer loyalty is high for Southwest for good reasons. They’re basically everywhere in the U.S., there are no assigned seats, and generally, the flights are reliable and punctual.
Fly Southwest regularly and use its hotel/car rental partners for twice the points as other purchases. Those double points plus the yearly anniversary points (3,000 each year) bring your total up to a significant level surprisingly fast. The annual $69 fee isn’t cheap, but it’s a reasonable tradeoff for the flights you are able to earn.

Stephen Altrogge

Personal Finance Contributor

Stephen Altrogge is a business and marketing writer from Ashland, Ohio. His writing has been published in Fast Company, Zapier, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and a host of other publications. He has a degree in Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Before launching his own business, he worked as an auditor at a bank.