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

by on Thu June 16, 2016 • 4 Comments
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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 and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa 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:

  • Get the Southwest Premier 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 if you also get the Southwest Plus or Business cards.

  • Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 Visa: 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, $95 annual fee.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide, 1:1 points transfer to a variety of hotel and airline programs including Southwest Rapid Rewards, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee the first year).

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

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.

  • Earn 2X points on travel and dining. You have a good chance of racking up points much more quickly with the broad bonus earning categories of all travel and dining purchases compared to the Southwest Premier 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 Premier 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 Sapphire Preferred 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 Premier card (and possibly the Southwest Plus or Business) to help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass and use the Sapphire Preferred 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 and Southwest Premier cards are great travel cards to have.

If you have to pick one, the Chase Sapphire Preferred 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 Premier 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

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

  1. NA

    I had chase and it worked great. Now, my only issue with Chase is having to spend $4k in 3 months vs $2 with SWA to get 50k points on either program. I would think going with SWA is better since you can spend less to get the same bonus points.

    Reply
  2. m.akhtar chaudhy

    i need to book a first class and a business class one way ticket from lax to lhr.i dont mind reasonable stop over using advantage award miles on american air line and other surcharge free one world partner.my travel dates are july 30th,31st and agust 1.Do you have any smart way to book this itenery.thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @m.akthar – Unfortunately right now on those dates, no reasonable options on AA or Iberia. Just the BA options with the fuel surcharge.

      Reply

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