Here at EPOP, we love getting the best deals we can on airfare. That’s why we’re big fans of Southwest Airlines for many of our domestic travel needs. The airline offers exceptional value, with 2 free checked bags, a carry-on bag, and a personal item. Plus, the fares are some of the lowest you’ll find.

But what if there were a way to make your already affordable Southwest flights even more affordable? We’re talking (basically) free flights, free in-flight WiFi, and even free in-flight (ahem, adult) beverages.

When you get one of the Southwest credit cards, all of the above (and more) are possible. In this guide, we’ll examine all of the credit cards that Southwest currently offers.

We’ll look at everything from sign-up bonuses to the differences between the Southwest personal and business credit cards. This way, you can decide which card is best for your travel needs.

The 5 Southwest Airlines Credit Cards: Features and Overview

Southwest offers one of the widest selections of credit cards of any airline out there. This means lots of opportunities to earn points and save money, but it can also mean some confusion. How are you supposed to know which card is best for you? Can you get more than one?

To cut through the confusion, we’ve put together the following overview of each Southwest credit card.

We’ll start with the three personal credit cards, and then we’ll take a look at the two business credit cards Southwest offers. No matter your budget or travel needs, there’s likely a card on the list for you.

1. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

To start things off, we have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus. This is the most basic of the Southwest credit cards, but it still offers some great travel perks.

Here are the key things to know about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus:

  • Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases directly from the airline.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotels and car rental partner purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 3,000 points on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Annual fee: $69.
  • Redeem points for domestic flights, international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards.

This can be a great card if you’re just getting started with travel hacking. The $1,000 minimum spend is attainable for almost anyone, and the $69 annual fee is quite reasonable (especially compared to the $200 or even $450 fees of some other travel credit cards).

And 40,000 points will get you very far. That’s enough for several domestic flights or a roundtrip flight to Mexico or the Caribbean.

2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

Moving up a level, we have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier. This card is similar to the Rapid Rewards Plus, though it offers a few additional benefits.

Here are the key facts about the Rapid Rewards Premier:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest airlines purchases directly from the airline.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotels and car rental partner purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Redeem points for domestic flights, international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards.

In terms of the sign-up bonus and points earned on purchases, this card is identical to the Rapid Rewards Plus. It does offer a few additional perks, however. To start, you get double the number of points on your cardmember anniversary (6,000 vs. 3,000).

Beyond that, the Rapid Rewards Premier also lets you earn “tier qualifying points.” This means is that the points you earn will help you get to the A-List and A-List Preferred statuses.

Southwest A-List members get priority boarding, priority check-in, and a 25% earning bonus on all flights. A-List Preferred members get the same check-in and boarding perks, plus a 100% earning bonus and free in-flight WiFi.

Normally, the only way to get either of these statuses is to take a lot of flights (25 one-way per year for A-List and 50 one-way per year for A-List Preferred). But with the Rapid Rewards Premier, you have an additional way to earn these points and get to a higher status even faster.

Finally, we should note that the Rapid Rewards Premier doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. These fees can really add up, making the Rapid Rewards Premier a better choice than the Plus if you plan to do any international travel with Southwest.

3. Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

The final personal Southwest credit card is the Rapid Rewards Priority. This card has the highest annual fee of any of the personal cards, but it also offers the most benefits.

Here are the key things to know about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority:

  • Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases directly from the airline.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotels and car rental partner purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 7,500 points on your cardmember anniversary.
  • 4 upgraded boardings per year (when available).
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • 20% back on all Southwest inflight purchases.
  • Annual fee: $149.
  • Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Redeem points for domestic flights, international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards.

I like to think of the Rapid Rewards Priority as the “premium” version of the Rapid Rewards Premier. It has the same sign-up bonus, earning structure, and opportunity to earn tier qualifying points. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees for using the card abroad.

However, the card offers some exciting additional perks. To start, you get 7,500 points on your cardmember anniversary (1,500 more than the Rapid Rewards Premier).

Beyond that, you’re also eligible for 4 upgraded boardings per year (i.e., you get to board the plane sooner). Since Southwest doesn’t have assigned seats, an upgraded boarding can mean the difference between a roomy first row aisle seat and a cramped middle seat at the back of the plane.

Next, there’s the $75 annual travel credit. This credit is good for any travel purchases you make with Southwest, whether it’s a flight, car rental, or hotel. (Though the credit does not apply to in-flight purchases or upgraded boarding purchases).

Finally, when you use your Rapid Rewards Priority card for in-flight purchases on Southwest, you’ll earn 20% back. This includes purchases of both WiFi and alcoholic beverages. If you buy either frequently, this is a compelling perk.

4. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

In addition to their 3 personal credit cards, Southwest also offers 2 business credit cards. Assuming you can qualify for a business credit card, both of these cards are worth considering if you want to get access to higher sign-up bonuses and additional travel perks.

To start, we have the Rapid Rewards Premier Business. Here are the key things to know about the card:

  • Earn 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Annual fee: $99.
  • Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Redeem points for domestic flights, international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards.

Overall, the Rapid Rewards Premier Business is very similar to the regular Rapid Rewards Premier card. The point earning structure, cardmember anniversary points, and ability to earn tier qualifying points are all the same. Plus, both cards have a $99 annual fee.

The big difference, however, is the sign-up bonus. The Rapid Rewards Premier Business has a 60,000 point sign-up bonus (compared to just 40,000 points for the regular Rapid Rewards Premier).

Of course, the minimum spend is also higher ($3,000 vs. $1,000). But for most people, spending $3,000 in 3 months is easy. Even if it seems like a lot, check out this guide to see all the ways you can meet the minimum spend.

5. Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business

The final card on our list is the Rapid Rewards Performance Business. While it’s similar in some ways to the Rapid Rewards Priority and Rapid Rewards Premier Business, the extra perks of this card put it in a class of its own.

Here are the key facts about the Rapid Rewards Performance Business:

  • Earn 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on social media and search engine advertising; internet, cable, and phone services.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 9,000 points on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Annual fee: $199.
  • Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000.
  • 4 upgraded boardings per year (when available).
  • Credit for inflight WiFi purchases (up to 365 $8 credits per year).
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Redeem points for domestic flights, international flights, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals, and gift cards.

The first thing to note about this card is its massive sign-up bonus. 80,000 points is enough for several round-trip domestic flights, or even a couple of round-trip international flights.

Of course, this high bonus comes with the highest minimum spend of any Southwest credit card. But it’s still doable, especially if you sign up for the card before a big purchase that you were planning to make anyway (new couch, anyone?).

The next notable thing about the Performance Business is that it earns 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases. This is the only Southwest credit card to offer such a benefit; all the other cards only offer 2x points on Southwest Airlines spending.

The card also offers some spending bonuses tailored towards business owners. You’ll earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on the following:

  • Social media and search engine advertising
  • Internet services
  • Cable services
  • Phone services

If you have any kind of business (especially an online one), then all of the above are purchases you likely make already. And if you don’t have a business, read this guide to see how easy it is to start one.

Finally, the Performance Business offers some cool perks to use at the airport and during your flight. The 4 upgraded boardings will help you get the perfect seat, while the WiFi credits mean that you can effectively get free WiFi on every Southwest flight you take (unless you’re somehow taking more than 365 flights per year).

The Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit is also worth looking into if you don’t already participate in one of the programs. In case you’re not familiar, TSA PreCheck lets you get through airport security more quickly and conveniently. Global Entry, meanwhile, lets you re-enter the United States more quickly when returning from an international trip.

TSA PreCheck and Global entry would normally cost $85 or $100, respectively, so this perk can save you a lot of money. We should also note that Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, so it’s a better use of the benefit to go ahead and apply for Global Entry if you plan to do any international travel over the next few years.

Which Southwest Credit Card Should I Get?

Whew! I know that was a lot of information to process. And after all that, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Okay, but which card should I get?”

It’s ultimately up to you to decide which card is right for your situation, but we have a few general recommendations.

To start, it makes the most sense to get the Rapid Rewards Priority as your personal Southwest credit card. It has the highest annual fee of the personal cards, but the $75 annual travel credit effectively brings the annual fee down to $74.

This makes it technically “cheaper” than the Rapid Rewards Premier as long as you spend at least $75 on travel each year. Plus, the minimum spend is the same as the other personal cards, and you get the added benefit of 4 upgraded boardings per year. This more than makes it worth the higher annual fee.

For business credit cards, we think the Rapid Rewards Performance Business offers the best deal as long as you can meet the $5,000 minimum spend without putting yourself in financial jeopardy.

On paper, the $199 annual fee for the Rapid Rewards Performance Business can be intimidating. But the $199 annual fee is effectively reduced to $99 if you take advantage of the Global Entry application fee credit.

And it could be reduced even further if you frequently purchase in-flight WiFi. In fact, you’d only have to use in-flight WiFi 13 times in a year to get that additional $99 fee back.

Ready to apply for our top 2 Southwest credit cards? Learn more about each card at the links below:

Southwest Credit Cards FAQ

Before we conclude this guide, we want to answer some common questions about Southwest credit cards:

1. Can I have more than one Southwest credit card?

Sort of. You can only have one personal Southwest credit card and one business Southwest credit card at one time. However, you can choose to upgrade or downgrade to a different personal or business credit card if you want.

2. Can I get the sign-up bonus if I already have a Southwest credit card?

No, you cannot. For this reason, we strongly recommend applying for the highest tier of Southwest credit card that you can. Otherwise, you could miss out on higher sign-up bonuses.

This doesn’t matter so much for Southwest’s personal credit cards (they all have the same sign-up bonus), but it does matter for the business credit cards.

For instance, if you sign up for the Rapid Rewards Premier Business, you won’t be eligible for the 80,000 point sign-up bonus that the Performance Business offers (even if you upgrade to the Performance Business later).

2. Does the sign-up bonus count towards A-List or A-List Preferred status?

No, it does not. This is why it’s important to understand how “tier qualifying” points work. The only way to earn tier qualifying points is to use your card for purchases.

Points that you earn in exchange for meeting the minimum spend will help you get flights, but they won’t count towards A-List or A-List Preferred status.

3. Are there other travel credit cards that work well for Southwest?

Yes, there are. We highly recommend that all travelers look into the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, as both let you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to a variety of airlines (including Southwest).

And if you have a business, the Chase Ink is another great way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer to Southwest and use to pay for flights.

Fly for Less with a Southwest Credit Card

We hope this guide has shown you all the opportunities that Southwest credit cards offer for saving money and getting cool travel perks. If you want to learn about another cool way Southwest offers to save money on flights, check out our guide to the Southwest Companion Pass.

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