Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card overview
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of any Southwest credit card on the market, which is either a strength or weakness depending on how you look at it. While the $69 annual fee is affordable, the Plus card lacks the perks offered by its higher-priced counterparts to keep you interested past the initial welcome bonus. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
* Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
In a hobby that feels dominated by ultra-premium credit cards with $450-plus annual fees and laundry lists of luxury perks, it’s hard to imagine that a cobranded airline credit card with a $69 annual fee might be valuable to loyal Southwest customers. However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card does make sense for some flyers — in some cases.
Southwest is no stranger to doing things differently, including offering three affordable personal credit cards. With all three cards currently offering identical welcome bonuses — 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening — it’s even more important to look at the differences among your three choices.
Let’s take a look at how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and its perks measure up against its higher-end siblings.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus welcome offer
New applicants for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card can earn 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, making 60,000 points worth $900.
This is the first time Southwest has offered a promo code as part of a sign-up bonus on a credit card. The code will appear directly in your Southwest.com account within eight weeks of meeting the spending requirement. It can be used — only once — on a single one-way or round-trip Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime and Business Select fare, and is available for use until October 31, 2024.
Given it is a single-use promo code, it would be best to save this for a more expensive ticket. You’ll get the biggest savings when using the code for round-trip travel and/or during peak travel periods like the summer or the holidays.
Before you rush to apply for this card, there are two application rules to remember. First, the Southwest Plus card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more new credit card accounts (from any bank, not just Chase) in the past 24 months, you likely won’t be approved for this card.
Another limitation applies specifically to Southwest credit cards. If you have any personal Southwest credit card — or earned a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card in the last 24 months — you won’t be eligible for the bonus on this card. Fortunately, this restriction is just on personal cards and doesn’t apply to Southwest business credit cards. This means you can have both a Southwest personal and a business card open simultaneously, which you might want to do (to help you earn the Companion Pass when it’s not included in a welcome bonus).
Earning points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
With the Southwest Plus card, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights and with Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners. This is a 3% return on spending, based on TPG’s valuations.
You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting (including ride-hailing apps), 2 points per dollar on internet, cable and phone services, 2 points per dollar on select streaming services and 1 point per dollar on other purchases.
It’s worth pointing out that purchases outside the U.S. will still earn bonus points at these same rates, but you will pay a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Thus, this isn’t a good card for purchases in other countries.
Redeeming points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
Rapid Rewards offers a few low-value redemption options, including gift cards, merchandise, hotel stays, rental cars and travel experiences. You can even redeem for international flights on other carriers. However, the redemption values on these options are worse than what you’ll get when using your points for Southwest flights.
The airline offers four tiers of fares, ranging from the cheapest Wanna Get Away tickets to the more expensive Business Select option — with Wanna Get Away Plus and Anytime fares in between.
Award pricing is tied to the cash price of the tickets. Thus, the number of points you need will go up or down depending on the cash price of the flight. The positive here is that using your points for Southwest flights is almost always possible.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus benefits
There are perks on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card that go beyond the Companion Pass or the points from the sign-up bonus. You’ll enjoy the following ongoing benefits in exchange for the card’s $69 annual fee:
- Reimbursement for up to two EarlyBird check-ins every card anniversary.
- 3,000 bonus points each account anniversary year, worth $45 in TPG’s valuations.
- 25% back on inflight purchases of drinks and Wi-Fi on Southwest Airlines flights.
- Roadside dispatch provides around-the-clock availability for roadside services, though you will pay for any services provided.
- Extended warranty protection adds up to one year added to eligible manufacturers’ warranties of three years or less.
- Travel accident insurance for accidental death or dismemberment while traveling.
- Baggage delay insurance of up to $100 per day for up to three days for baggage delays of six hours or more.
- Lost luggage reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Purchase protection: Up to $500 of damage or theft coverage for 120 days for eligible purchases you make on your card — with a limit of $50,000 per account.
Which cards compete with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus?
The most obvious competitors to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card are the other Southwest credit cards. However, it’s also worth considering whether a general travel credit card might fit better in your wallet.
- If you want more Southwest benefits with a modest fee: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has the same welcome bonus but extra perks to justify its $99 annual fee. These include 6,000 anniversary bonus points, 2 EarlyBird check-ins per year, 25% back on inflight purchases and earning 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for each $10,000 spent on the card. For more details, read our full review of the Southwest Premier card.
- If you fly Southwest regularly and want the most perks: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the premium Southwest credit card, offering 7,500 anniversary bonus points, and a $75 Southwest travel credit each year. The card has a $149 annual fee. For more details, read our full review of the Southwest Priority card.
- If you want more points that can be used with Southwest and in other ways: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a good choice for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can redeem with Southwest but also with other airline and hotel partners. You’ll get numerous travel protections, as well, and the card has a $95 annual fee. For more information, read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.
Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus worth it?
The Southwest Plus card has the lowest annual fee of the Southwest credit cards: $69 per year. Its 3,000 anniversary bonus points are worth $45 in TPG’s valuations. This benefit alone knocks the effective annual fee down to $24. However, one of the other two personal cards will represent better value if you’re loyal to Southwest.
For only $69 per year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card comes with a sign-up bonus that’s enough to make this card worth considering, in addition to the bonus points you can use for free flights. Beyond the welcome bonus, the card offers a handful of benefits and perks that can justify keeping the card in your wallet every year.
If you fly with Southwest often, though, one of the other two Southwest cards will provide additional perks. Be sure to evaluate what’s best for you beyond simply looking at the annual fee and the welcome bonus.
Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon, Christina Ly and Ryan Smith.