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Best Southwest Credit Card? It might not say Southwest on it

by on Tue July 8, 2014 • 4 Comments

If you fly Southwest airlines and value their Rapid Rewards points, there are two personal Southwest credit card options that are Southwest branded – The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier credit card.

But you may not know you have an alternative to the Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® credit cards.

It’s called the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. And the points you earn can be transferred instantly 1:1 into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account, free of charge, with no limits. Click here for the guide to how that works.

The differences between the Southwest cards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® come down to a few areas:

  1. Point bonuses on spending. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2x points per dollar on all dining and travel expenses. The Southwest credit cards earn 3x points per dollar on Southwest purchases only, and 2x points per dollar on car and hotel reservations made on, but no other travel spending. There is no bonus for dining.
  2. Annual bonuses. The Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards earn an annual point bonus of 3,000 – 6,000 points. The Sapphire Preferred® Card does not earn an annual bonus.
  3. Point transfer. The Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you transfer points to many other airline and hotel programs beside Southwest, including United Airlines, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, and Korean Airlines. All are 1:1 transfers with no fee.
  4. Annual fees. The annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is $95, waived the first year. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus is $69, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier® is $99. The Southwest cards do not waive the first year fee
  5. Southwest status. The Southwest credit cards let you earn points toward A-list and Companion Pass status. Points transferred from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card don’t count toward status levels.
Southwest Rapid Rewards PlusSouthwest Rapid Rewards PremierChase Sapphire Preferred
Annual fee$69$99$95, $0 first year
Annual miles bonus3,0006,0007% of earnings
A-List / Companion status earningYesYesNo
Point transferNoNoYes, 5 airlines, 3 hotel programs
Dining bonusNoNo2x points / dollar
Travel bonus2-3x on Southwest.com2-3x on Southwest.com2x points / dollar

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

Which to choose?

You can input your monthly spending and compare Southwest credit cards directly using our CardFinder tool. But more generally you can consider the following guidelines:

You should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you…

  • chasesapphirepreferred170May2014Spend $250 or more per month on dining or travel expenses that earn 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred® Card. That bonus earns you more than the 6,000 point annual bonus you would receive with the highest tier Southwest credit card.
  • Want the flexibility to transfer your points to United, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, and others.
  • Value having no foreign transaction fees. The base Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card has a 3% fee on foreign purchases, while the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has none. The premium Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier also has no foreign transaction fees.

You should choose a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card if you…

  • Care about earning Southwest A-list or Companion Pass status. Points earned from Southwest credit card purchases count toward this each year at varying levels. Points transferred in from the Sapphire Preferred® Card don’t count toward this status.
  • Spend less than $250 per month on dining or travel purchases, such that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card bonus is less valuable to you.
  • Only care about flying where Southwest flies, and don’t want to earn points that can be used on other airlines like United and British Airways, or hotel programs like Hyatt and Marriott.

In general, it’s hard to go wrong with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card because it is so versatile. But, if Southwest flights are your primary goal the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier credit cards are good options, especially when there are attractive sign on bonuses.


The following two tabs change content below.

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 the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

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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 Best Southwest Credit Card? It might not say Southwest on it

  1. Vicky

    Southwest Rapid Rewards now has a card that carries no foreign transaction fee – I received it Dec 2012

    1. MileCards

      @Vicky- That’s right – the Premier has no foreign transaction fees. We updated the text, thanks.


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