Southwest Airlines and Chase have a great portfolio of co-branded credit cards at a variety of “price points” (and by that I mean annual fees). In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, which is Southwest Airlines’ lowest annual fee credit card.
Southwest Airlines Plus Card Basics For August 2022
The Southwest Plus Card has a $69 annual fee, which is the lowest annual fee offered by any Southwest Airlines credit card. What’s interesting is that all Southwest personal cards have the same welcome bonuses, so let’s take a close look at this card, and also how to decide which of Southwest’s cards makes the most sense for you. In this case, I think there’s a clear winner across the board.
Many people love flying with Southwest Airlines because of the two free checked bags, lack of change and cancelation fees, and great service. Furthermore, having a Southwest Airlines credit card can help you earn a Companion Pass, which is one of the best deals in domestic travel. With that in mind, let’s get right into the details of this card.
Southwest Plus Card Bonus Of 50,000 Points
The Southwest Plus Card is offering a welcome bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 within the first three months.
In terms of eligibility, the card isn’t available to anyone who currently has a Southwest Rapid Rewards personal card, or anyone who has received a welcome bonus on a Southwest Rapid Rewards personal card in the past 24 months. However, you are eligible if you have a Southwest business credit card.
Southwest Plus Card $69 Annual Fee
The Southwest Plus Card has a $69 annual fee, and you can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost. $69 is the lowest annual fee of any Southwest Airlines credit card. Looking at the high end, Southwest’s personal cards have annual fees of up to $149, and Southwest’s business cards have annual fees of up to $199.
Southwest Plus Card Up To 2x Points On Spending
As far as the Southwest Plus Card’s rewards structure goes, the card offers the following:
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines purchases
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
- 1x Rapid Rewards points on all other eligible purchases
It’s nice that the card has some bonus categories, though there are ultimately more rewarding cards out there for everyday spending.
Earn Companion Pass With Southwest Credit Cards
The rewards structure on the Southwest Plus Card isn’t necessarily industry-leading, though the reason you may want to put spending on this card is for another reason.
One of the very best values in travel is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, and you can typically earn that through credit card spending (or credit card bonuses) on a Southwest credit card.
With Southwest Companion Pass you can have someone travel with you for the entire year (whether you are paying cash or redeeming points), and just pay taxes and fees for them. This is such an incredible deal, and basically doubles the value you can get from flying Southwest.
The Companion Pass requires earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points per calendar year, though only certain types of points accrual qualify, including Southwest credit card spending, as well as Southwest credit card welcome bonuses.
Southwest Plus Card 3% Foreign Transaction Fees
The Southwest Plus Card is the only Southwest Airlines credit card to have foreign transaction fees. The card has 3% foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t recommend using this card for purchases abroad, as the fees will more than negate the rewards you earn.
Southwest Airlines Plus Card Benefits
The Southwest Plus Card offers some benefits that could make the card worth keeping long term. However, given that this is also Southwest’s lowest annual fee card, it doesn’t have the most benefits. What are the ongoing perks of having this card?
Southwest Plus Card 3,000 Anniversary Bonus Points
On your Southwest Plus Card cardmember anniversary every year you’ll receive 3,000 bonus points. Southwest Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based frequent flyer program, and you’ll typically need 83 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar of airfare you book. In other words, those 3,000 Rapid Rewards points should get you somewhere around $36 worth of airfare on Southwest annually.
Southwest Plus Card EarlyBird Check-Ins
The Southwest Plus Card offers two EarlyBird check-ins per anniversary year. This can get you a better boarding position, and would ordinarily cost $15-25 each, so that’s potentially a $30-50 value. That’s quite a nice perk when you consider the card’s low annual fee.
Southwest Plus Card 25% Savings On Inflight Drinks & Wi-Fi
The Southwest Plus Card offers 25% savings on inflight purchases of Wi-Fi and drinks. Simply pay with your card, and you’ll automatically receive a statement credit for that amount.
Southwest Plus Card Purchase & Travel Coverage
The Southwest Plus Card offers a variety of travel & purchase protection benefits, including:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver coverage; it’s secondary within the United States, and primary internationally
- Baggage delay insurance, which can reimburse you up to $100 per day for three days when your bag is delayed by at least six hours
- Lost luggage reimbursement, which reimburses you up to $3,000 if your bag is damaged or lost
- Travel accident insurance, with the maximum coverage ranging from $250,000-500,000, depending on the situation
- Extended warranty protection, which extends your United States manufacturer warranty by a year on eligible warranties of three years or less
- Purchase protection, which covers you for up to 120 days for damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
You’ll want to check the cardmember agreement for the full terms & conditions associated with these benefits.
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. This program has saved me a significant amount of money.
Is The Southwest Plus Card Worth It?
The Southwest Plus Card is a solid entry-level airline credit card, and this is an especially good time to pick it up, given the bonus. If you want a credit card from Southwest and want as low of an annual fee as possible, then this card could make sense for you.
You’ll receive a 3,000 point bonus on your cardmember anniversary every year, two EarlyBird check-ins per year, and 25% savings on inflight purchases. For many, those perks should more than justify the annual fee, and that’s not even accounting for the massive welcome bonus.
However, there’s another strategy that I think makes more sense, personally.
Tip: Apply For The Southwest Priority Card Instead
If you’re going to pick up a personal Rapid Rewards credit card, I can’t recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card (review) enough. The card has a $149 annual fee, which at first is a turn-off to some people. Why would you pay a $149 annual fee if you can pay a $69 annual fee, especially with the welcome bonuses being the same?
Well, the benefits more than justify it, in my opinion. The Southwest Priority Card offers:
- A 7,500 point anniversary bonus annually, getting you roughly $90 worth of airfare (that’s 4,500 more points than what’s offered by the Plus Card)
- A $75 Southwest Airlines travel credit annually, and virtually any Southwest purchase counts toward that (the Plus Card doesn’t offer this)
- Four upgraded boardings per year, when available; you’ll be reimbursed for the purchase of boarding positions A1-15 on the day of departure (the Plus Card offers two EarlyBird check-ins per year, but no upgraded boardings)
In other words, for the $149 annual fee you’re getting points that will get you around $90 worth of airfare on Southwest, plus a $75 Southwest credit annually. For anyone who flies Southwest with any frequency, you’re basically being paid to have the card, since that’s around $165 worth of value right there.
That doesn’t even factor in the upgraded boardings and savings for onboard purchases. The card really is a no-brainer.
Looking For A Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card?
If you want a Southwest Rapid Rewards business credit card in place of or in addition to a personal card, I highly recommend considering the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card (review). The Southwest Performance Card offers the following benefits, which make it the best Southwest credit card, in my opinion:
- A welcome bonus of 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first three months
- An anniversary bonus of 9,000 Rapid Rewards points
- Four upgraded boardings per year
- A Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
- Up to 365 Wi-Fi credits per year, each valid for an $8 Wi-Fi session on a Southwest Airlines flight
The Southwest Performance Business card offers a lot of points, and more perks overall than other Southwest cards.
The Southwest Plus Card is a good entry-level credit card for someone who wants to earn Rapid Rewards points without paying a high annual fee.
However, I think there’s a better strategy. I’d argue that the $149 annual fee Southwest Priority Card is almost always going to be the better option, given the incremental benefits. Most significantly, the card offers an anniversary bonus of 7,500 points, plus a $75 annual Southwest travel credit. That alone should more than justify the annual fee.