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Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Review

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This article was last updated Jun 04, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

If you’re a frequent flyer on Southwest Airlines and belong to its Rapid Rewards® loyalty program, it only makes sense to consider adding the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to your wallet.

New cardmembers Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. That’s more than enough to use for reward travel to most cities served by Southwest, depending on the time of year. A quick check of the airline’s website on May 15 showed that it’s enough to more than cover, for example, a flight between Baltimore and Belize City in July (26,823 points). It’s a pretty good deal, considering the cheapest fare is $477 roundtrip.

One major thing that makes this card worth your consideration is the chance to earn the airline’s popular Companion Pass, which lets you bring along someone on your travels for the cost of government taxes and fees.

The downside is that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card doesn’t come with common airline card perks like priority boarding or airport lounge access like other airline-branded credit cards. And although you get extra points for spending on Southwest-related travel and Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners, you don’t get them for dining, groceries or gas.

So let’s be honest — there are other airline and travel-related cards that offer more points in these popular categories. And you can’t travel the globe with your points thanks to Southwest’s limited route map (North and Central America and the Caribbean). If you’re OK with these limits, this still could be the card for you.

Where Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card out in its category

While the card doesn’t offer many travel perks on its own, you do get 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. You also get  3,000 bonus points every account anniversary year. Plus, you can earn 10,000 bonus points for each friend who gets the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, up to 50,000 points a year.

Racking up the points, on your card and by flying, helps you reach two levels of elite status on Southwest Airlines. A-List status gives you priority check-in and dedicated security lanes (where available), along with priority boarding, a 25% points bonus, a dedicated customer service line and free same-day standby on flights. A-List Preferred members get all of the above, plus a 100% points bonus and free in-flight Wi-Fi.

Another draw for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is its famous Companion Pass. To get one, you either have to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Once you have it, you can bring a companion along for free on every flight you buy or redeem with Rapid Rewards during a calendar year.

There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions, you earn unlimited points that don’t expire as long as your card account is open and there are no limits on how many points you can earn.

You can use your rewards to travel to more than 100 destinations in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. And unlike other major U.S. airlines, Southwest is the only airline that offers two free checked bags for all travelers.

Where the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card falls short in its category

If you want to use your points to fly outside the United States, your options are limited. While Southwest Airlines has flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica, and recently announced plans for Hawaii flights, you’re out of luck if you want to use your points for travel to other international destinations.

In order to get the coveted Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, you’ll have to either earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards qualifying points in a calendar year or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights. You’re responsible for paying any taxes and fees on the companion fare.

Domestically, that includes the Sept. 11 security fee. If you’re traveling outside the country, you’ll also have to pay a U.S. Customs User Fee, a U.S. APHIS User Fee and a U.S. Immigration User Fee, along with U.S. or international government imposed taxes and fees, depending on your itinerary. Unless you travel pretty regularly, it may be difficult to fly enough to reach the Companion Pass’ qualifications.

Cardmembers with A-List or A-List Preferred status flying with family members or travel companions also cannot share their early boarding benefits.

Additional card benefits

  • Lost luggage reimbursement that covers you and your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags if they’re damaged or lost by the carrier for up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance that reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays more than six hours by passenger carrier up to $100 a day for three days.
  • An extension on a U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by a year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
  • Purchase protection that covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

Compare to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

It may be difficult to decide whether to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, because frankly, there aren’t many major differences between the two, besides the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s slightly higher $99 annual fee.

You earn Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. You get 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. There’s also the same travel and purchase perks and the ability to go for the Companion Pass.

However, one big difference with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the ability to earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) each time you spend $10,000 on it, up to $100,000 a year. These TPQs help you earn Rapid Rewards, which unlock the bevy of perks that come with A-List or A-List Preferred elite status on Southwest.

You also get 6,000 bonus points on your anniversary, double that offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. And the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the one you want to use outside of the country, since it has a $0 foreign transaction fee, unlike the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

If you’re on the fence, here’s how the two cards compare:

$99

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee $69 $99
Purchase Intro Rate N/A N/A
Balance Transfer Intro Rate N/A N/A
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Regular Purchase APR 17.74% - 24.74% Variable 17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Rewards 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Sign Up Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Foreign Transaction Fee 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars $0

The information related to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.


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