Southwest Airlines offers three different co-branded personal credit cards with Chase. There’s the upper-end Priority card, the middle-child Premier card and the entry-level Plus card. Unlike other programs that offer a no-annual-fee option, the Southwest Plus Card isn’t free. Considering that co-brand cards for Southwest can’t provide the same perks as other airlines, like a free checked bag or earlier boarding group, what do you get for having the Southwest Plus Card?
If you decide that you want to sign up for the Southwest Plus card or any of the Southwest credit cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our link. We receive Southwest points for each referral, which helps us keep Your Mileage May Vary HQ going strong.
$69 Annual Fee
Sign Up Bonus
The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Plus card is 75,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Chase is offering the same bonus for all three personal cards until 12/11/23.
Note: Chase puts the following restrictions on applications to receive this bonus.
This product is available to you if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.
This card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.
When spending on the card, you earn points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program as follows:
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
- 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
- 2 points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
- 2 points per $1 spent on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
I have to be honest, I’m a bit unclear about which purchases for hotels and rental cars will earn two points. Is it through any company that partners with Southwest, or do you have to book through Southwest? The documentation on this benefit is very vague on which expenses will qualify.
Only earning 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases is disappointing because you can earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on Southwest airfare with the Sapphire Reserve and 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, so there’s no benefit on spending on the card for the bonus categories, even on Southwest purchases.
The Southwest cards added local transit and committing expenses and internet, cable, phone services and select streaming as 2x categories, making them slightly more appealing for everyday expenses.
The Southwest Plus card has some benefits for keeping it past the first year. Unlike most airline co-brand cards that offer a free checked bag or priority seating, those benefits don’t mean anything with Southwest, so they offer something different.
- 3,000-anniversary points each year. Valuing Southwest points at 1.3 cents each, that’s a $39 value. But that’s like buying Southwest points, and I hate to purchase points. What else?
- Points earned with the card count towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass. Some people find ways to manufacture enough spending to receive a pass each year.
- Cardholders get a 10,000-point boost toward a Companion Pass each year. These points aren’t redeemable, as they only count toward the pass.
- 2 EarlyBird Check-In each year. Each EarlyBird costs $15-$25, so that’s up to a $50 savings.
- 25% back on inflight purchases.
The Southwest Plus Card charges a 3% fee for foreign transactions. You can book a Southwest flight to Cabo but leave this card at home in favor of one with no foreign transaction fees.
Ways to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points
The points you earn with the sign-up bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. From there, you can use the points to book flights on Southwest. While Southwest used to say how much points were worth, they’ve done away with set values. Figure that you’ll get about 1.3 to 1.4 cents per point value. Southwest just notified customers that points will be devalued by 4% on January 1st, 2024.
How much you’ll pay for a ticket is directly related to how much that ticket costs. The nice thing is that you’ll never have a blackout date from redeeming points on Southwest. Prices might be high, but you’ll always be able to use points if a cash ticket is available.
If you think the Southwest Plus card is right for you, once again, here’s our referral link. Od course, you don’t have to use it, but we’d appreciate if you did.
Full disclosure: I’ve had this card before. I kept it for a few years, but all I was doing was buying Southwest points. Considering that all I could do with those points was redeem them for 1.3 cents of value, I was losing money every year I kept the card. Eventually, I closed it.
If you don’t fly with Southwest Airlines very often but still want to take advantage of the sign-up bonus, the Southwest Plus card is a good option. For a $69 annual fee and $3,000 in spending, you can earn 75,000 points. On the other hand, if you fly Southwest at least four times a year and can benefit from the Priority Boarding upgrades and $75 credit, it might be worth considering the Priority card for long-term use.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary