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Southwest Visa vs Chase Sapphire Preferred: Which is best for earning Southwest rewards?

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You may think that if you fly a specific airline that the card with the airline’s logo on it would be the best option, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Depending on what your overall travel patterns look like, there might be other options that would make just as much, or more sense. Here we’ll compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card credit cards and see when it would make sense to have one card over the other.

We’re going to get into more detail below, but the short answer is:

  • chasesapphirevisaGet the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card if you are trying to earn Southwest A-List status or the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets you bring a companion along for no additional airfare on every Southwest flight you take. To earn it, you need to earn 110,000 qualifying points, which is a lot, but not impossible.
  • Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you want points you can turn into Southwest Rapid Rewards points anytime, as well points and miles with other airline and hotel programs like United MileagePlus®, and you’re not interested in earning Southwest A-List status or the Companion Pass, at least for now.

Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 2 Southwest Points earned per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases, 1 Southwest Point per earned per dollar spent on all other purchases, 6,000 Rapid Rewards points each year on your Cardmember anniversary, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, $99 annual fee.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases, 1:1 points transfer to a variety of hotel and airline programs including Southwest Rapid Rewards, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, annual fee: $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95.

Now we will look at the pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

Pros

  • 6,000 Rapid Rewards points earned on your Cardmember anniversary each year makes for some pretty clear ongoing value of the credit card. The value of 6,000 points isn’t as clear-cut as it once was now that Southwest has moved to a slightly more dynamic pricing system for award tickets, but 6,000 points is worth somewhere around $80.
  • You won’t have to pay foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad. This is becoming a pretty standard benefit on credit cards that have an annual fee, but nonetheless a great benefit if you plan to travel abroad.
  • Points earned from the sign up bonus and spending count toward the Southwest Companion Pass. The companion pass presents one of the best values currently available for domestic travel and travel to parts of the Caribbean and Mexico. You are able to designate a companion who can fly with you on paid and award flights for only the cost of taxes for at least a year.
  • Ability to earn points for A-List status. The card lets you earn points that count towards earning A-List status, which gets you early boarding and other perks as a frequent Southwest flier.

Cons

  • The points earning available on this credit card is lower than you could earn on other cards with a similar annual fee, unless all of your travel purchases are made through Southwest Airlines. All purchases that are outside of Southwest Airlines and partners will only earn one Rapid Reward per dollar spent.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Pros

  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partners, including Southwest Airlines, mean that your points are super flexible.
  • Ability to book flights through Chase’s travel portal without first transferring points to partners increases the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards® even further.
  • Rewards program fit for travelers. Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. You have a good chance of racking up points much more quickly with the broad bonus earning categories of travel and dining purchases compared to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card which only earns bonus points on Southwest and partner purchases. You can use our calculator to see which card earns you more points based on your spending habits.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. Again, a pretty standard benefit now on cards that charge an annual fee, but a very important benefit to have if you plan to travel abroad!

Cons

  • No annual bonus. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card earns bonus points every year on the Cardmember anniversary which is a pretty cut and dry discount on the annual fee of the credit card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card isn’t as cut and dry, but does offer great benefits such as earning on all travel and dining purchases and great trip delay protections.
  • No Southwest status options. The points you earn from this card can’t be used to help you earn Southwest A-List status, nor Southwest Companion Pass (at least not directly). There is a method for converting Chase points to hotel points that lets you build your Companion Pass balance.

Does having both make sense?

If you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass but also earn more flexible rewards for your regular day-to-day spend, holding both cards is reasonable.

Use the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass and use the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for your regular ongoing spending.

After having both cards for one year, make sure you evaluate their ongoing value to see if they make sense to keep.

Which card is right for you?

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card cards are great travel cards to have.

If you have to pick one, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card probably makes sense for most people because of the flexibility to transfer your points not just to Southwest, but other programs like United MileagePlus® and Hyatt Gold Passport. Plus, it earns 2x points on dining and travel spending.

The people that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card will make more sense for are those who are looking to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, or who fly Southwest often enough to be in the hunt for A-List status. Since the sign up bonus counts toward the Southwest Companion Pass, it makes most sense to get the Southwest Premier during the year in which you are planning to earn the Companion Pass.

Further, having both cards could make sense if you are looking to earn the Southwest Companion Pass but also maximize the earnings from your spending.

Ultimately, the choice of which card is right for you depends on your travel preferences and goals as well as how much you want to complicate your finances by having multiple cards.


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