Best Southwest credit cards of August 2022: Earn points that count toward the Companion Pass

By August 3, 2022DeFi
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  • Best for occasional Southwest flyers
  • Best Southwest card with a sub-$100 annual fee
  • Best for frequent Southwest flyers
  • Best Southwest card for small-business owners
  • Best Southwest card for premium perks
  • Compare Southwest credit cards
  • How to decide which Southwest credit card is right for you
  • Insider's experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

    Southwest is smaller than the "big three" US airlines (American, Delta, and United), but it remains a great choice for many travelers thanks to customer-friendly policies like two free checked bags per customer and no change fees. Plus, Southwest points never expire — so even if you're not traveling right now, you don't have to worry about losing your hard-earned rewards.

    Compare the best Southwest credit cards

    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
    • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
    • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

    It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Our recommendation It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Best for occasional Southwest flyers

    Intro Offer It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    Rewards It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

    Annual Fee It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    $69

    Our recommendation It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Best Southwest card with a sub-$100 annual fee

    Intro Offer It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    Rewards It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

    Annual Fee It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    $99

    Our recommendation It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Best for frequent Southwest flyers

    Intro Offer It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    Rewards It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

    Annual Fee It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    $149

    Our recommendation It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Best Southwest card for small-business owners

    Intro Offer It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

    Rewards It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

    Annual Fee It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    $99

    Our recommendation It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Best Southwest card for premium perks

    Intro Offer It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

    Rewards It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on rideshare. Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.

    Annual Fee It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    $199

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    Here's what to know to help you decide which Southwest credit card is best for you.

    We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

    Best for occasional Southwest flyers: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

    Annual Fee

    $69

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    4.1/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.1 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

    4.1/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.1 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Annual Fee

    $69

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Pros & Cons It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Pros

    • Earns Southwest points on every purchase
    • You get 3,000 points every year after your cardmember anniversary

    Cons

    • Charges foreign transaction fees
    • Very limited benefits

    Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

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    More Information

    • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
    • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
    • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
    • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
    • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
    • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.

    Best Southwest card with a sub-$100 annual fee: Southwest Premier Card

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

    Annual Fee

    $99

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    4.3/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.3 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

    4.3/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.3 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Annual Fee

    $99

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Pros & Cons It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Pros

    • You get 6,000 points each year after anniversary
    • You can earn Tier-Qualifying Points toward Southwest elite status for spending on the card

    Cons

    • Annual fee

    Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

    Details It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    More Information

    • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
    • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
    • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
    • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
    • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
    • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
    • No foreign transaction fees.

    Best for frequent Southwest flyers: Southwest Priority Card

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

    Annual Fee

    $149

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    5/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    5 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

    5/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    5 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Annual Fee

    $149

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Pros & Cons It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Pros

    • Generous annual benefits, including a Southwest travel credit and 7,500 points, plus upgraded boardings and in-flight discounts
    • If you fly Southwest several times a year, the benefits easily outweigh the annual fee
    • Annual fee is low compared to other premium airline credit cards

    Cons

    • Highest annual fee among Southwest consumer cards

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    More Information

    • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
    • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
    • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
    • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
    • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
    • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
    • No foreign transaction fees.

    Best Southwest card for small-business owners: Southwest Premier Business Card

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

    Annual Fee

    $99

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    4.2/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.2 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

    4.2/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    4.2 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Annual Fee

    $99

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Pros & Cons It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Pros

    • Awards you 6,000 points each year after your account anniversary
    • Earns 3x Southwest points per dollar on your Southwest purchases

    Cons

    • No bonus points on non-Southwest purchases
    • Relatively light benefits compared to other airline credit cards

    Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

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    More Information

    • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
    • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
    • Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
    • Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
    • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
    • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
    • Earn unlimited tier qualifying points towards A-List status.

    Best Southwest card for premium perks: Southwest Performance Business Card

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

    Annual Fee

    $199

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    5/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    5 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

    5/5

    A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star A five pointed star

    5 out of 5 Stars

    Editor's Rating

    Apply Now

    Annual Fee

    $199

    Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% Variable

    Recommended Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Pros & Cons It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Pros

    • 4x bonus points on Southwest purchases
    • Valuable Southwest perks including four upgraded boardings per year, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, and 9,000 points each year on your anniversary

    Cons

    • $199 annual fee is on the high side

    Read Our Review A looong arrow, pointing right

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    More Information

    • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
    • Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
    • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
    • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
    • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
    • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
    • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® Fee Credit.

    Compare Southwest credit cards

    If you fly Southwest, a co-branded credit card can be a great way to earn extra Rapid Rewards points to use for free flights, and the points you earn from these cards can also help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass. When you have a Companion Pass, your designated companion can fly with you for almost free (just pay taxes and fees) on paid and award tickets.

    Southwest has three Rapid Rewards personal cards: the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

    The first major difference you'll notice between these three cards is in their annual fees. The Plus card charges a $69 annual fee, while the Premier and Priority cards charge $99 and $149, respectively.

    The anniversary bonuses are also different for each card:

    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: 3,000 anniversary bonus points
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 6,000 anniversary bonus points
    • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: 7,500 anniversary bonus points

    The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card now offer two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year (which normally costs $15 to $25 and allows you to automatically check-in 36 hours prior to departure) and 25% back on inflight purchases.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card holders get a few extra perks (but don't receive the EarlyBird Check-In benefit):

    Both the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card do not charge a foreign transaction fee, and both cards can earn you Tier-Qualifying Points (TQPs) toward Southwest A-List status. You'll earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend on the cards in a calendar year, and there's no limit to the number of TQPs you can earn (previously, there was a cap).

    A-List status requires 35,000 TQPs earned in a calendar year, and gets you benefits like priority boarding and a 25% points bonus on paid flights.

    With all three cards, you can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

    Each card also earns bonus points on:

    • Southwest and Rapid Rewards purchases
    • Local transit and commuting (including rideshare)
    • Internet, cable, and phone services
    • Select streaming

    You'll earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

    Southwest personal credit cards comparison

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

    Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

    Annual fee

    $69

    $99

    $149

    Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

    Rewards rate

    2x points on Southwest purchases

    2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

    2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

    2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

    1x point per dollar on everything else

    3x points on Southwest purchases

    2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

    2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

    2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

    1x point per dollar on everything else

    3x points on Southwest purchases

    2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

    2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

    2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

    1x point per dollar on everything else

    Anniversary points

    3,000

    6,000

    7,500

    Foreign transaction fee

    Yes

    No

    No

    Other benefits

    Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

    25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi

    Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

    Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

    25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi

    Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

    $75 annual Southwest travel credit

    4 upgraded boardings per year when available

    25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi

    Review

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card review

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card review

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card review

    Southwest has two co-branded business credit cards: the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card and the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card.

    The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card charges a $99 annual fee, while the Performance Business card is more expensive, at $199. However, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card has a better anniversary bonus, giving 9,000 points on each cardmember anniversary compared to the 6,000 points you'll get each year with the Premier Business card.

    The biggest difference between these two cards is their ongoing earnings potential. While you'll earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 2 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners with the Premier Business Card, you'll earn 4 points per dollar and 3 points per dollar in these categories, respectively, with the Performance Business card.

    And with the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card you'll earn 2 points per dollar on the following business expenses as well:

    • Social media and search engine advertising
    • Internet, cable, and phone services

    Both cards also earn 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, and offer up to $500 in fee credits for points transfers (for example, to other members) each year.

    The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card also gives cardholders up to $100 for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, four upgraded boardings per year (when available), and inflight Wi-Fi credits. It's offering a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

    As with the personal Southwest credit cards, the points you earn from the Southwest small-business cards count toward the Companion Pass.

    If your business spends a lot of money each year on social media advertising or internet, cable, and phone services, you'll definitely want to go with the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. You may also want to choose the Performance Business card if you fly four or more times each year. In that case, you could take full advantage of the four upgraded boardings per year and some of the other inflight perks.

    However, if you don't spend a lot of money in the bonus categories, your earnings potential will drop. And if you only fly once or twice a year, you may not get the most value out of the additional day-of-flight benefits.

    If you decide the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card and Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card don't make sense for you, you may want to consider one of the consumer Southwest credit cards discussed above.

    Or, because you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest and other airline and hotel partners when you have Chase travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, one of these cards could be a better pick if you value flexibility. However, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Southwest will not count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

    Southwest small business credit card comparison

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

    Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

    Annual fee

    $99

    $199

    Welcome bonus

    60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

    80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

    Rewards rate

    3x points on Southwest purchases

    2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners

    2x points on rideshare

    1 point per dollar on everything else

    4x points on Southwest purchases

    3x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners

    2x points on rideshare

    2x points on social media and search engine advertising

    2x points on internet, cable, and phone services

    1 point per dollar on everything else

    Anniversary points

    6,000

    9,000

    Foreign transaction fee

    No

    No

    Other benefits

    Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

    25% back on inflight purchases

    Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

    Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

    $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit

    4 upgraded boardings per year when available

    Inflight Wi-Fi credits

    Review

    Southwest Premier Business card review

    Southwest Performance Business Credit Card review

    How to decide which Southwest credit card is right for you

    If your main goal for getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card is to earn a sign-up bonus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could be a great choice. It offers the same sign-up bonus as the other two cards and a similar earnings rate, and it has the lowest annual fee.

    But if you plan to use your Rapids Rewards card for multiple years, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card cards offer better value. Both offer anniversary bonuses that are double or more than what you'll get with the Plus card. And the two more expensive cards are better for international travelers because they don't charge foreign transaction fees.

    When comparing the Premier and Priority cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card easily comes out on top. Its higher annual fee is easily reduced by $75 in annual Southwest travel credit. It also has a better anniversary bonus and offers additional inflight perks and discounts.

    In short, if you're looking for an airline card to earn free flights in the short term, you may want to choose the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. Otherwise, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers the best long-term value.

    Finally, note that you can't have two personal Southwest credit cards at the same time, and you can't open a new personal Southwest card if you've earned a sign-up bonus on any personal Southwest card within the last 24 months. So choose your card carefully.

    Additionally, all of the Southwest cards are subject to Chase's 5/24 rule, which means you won't get approved if you've opened five or more cards (from any bank) in the past 24 months.

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    Clint Proctor

    Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and millennials can win with money. When he's away from his keyboard, he enjoys drinking coffee, traveling, obsessing over the Green Bay Packers, and spending time with his wife and two boys.

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    Jasmin Baron, CEPF

    Editor

    Jasmin Baron is an editor at Insider, responsible for credit card coverage on Personal Finance Insider. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF).Before joining the Insider team, she was a senior editor at The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets, covering credit cards, points and miles, and loyalty programs. Her expertise in maximizing travel rewards grew from over two decades of experience in the aviation industry, including 18 years working as a pilot and flight instructor in her native Canada.You can reach Jasmin at jbaron@insider.com. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »

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