Southwest Airlines Credit Card Review - Important Info!
2013 WARNING: The Southwest Airlines credit card is a popular choice for frequent fliers, but is the promotion for 2 roundtrip flights too good to be true? Guess what... it's not! But there are still some important things you need to know this year about the new program...
Review of the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
The Southwest Visa cards are issued by Chase bank. About a year and a half ago we saw the launch of the Rapid Rewards Premier, which is a newer version of their card.
Meanwhile right now in November the best deal on the market is from Barclays...
Monday's Update (November 18, 2013): The Southwest card offer for 2 roundtrip flights (50,000 points) has been discontinued. Historically they tend to run that offer only twice per year, so if it comes back I would not expect to see it again until later on in 2014.
Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - $400 Bonus Value
- 2.2% in travel rewards on every dollar spent. Earn 2 miles per dollar and when you redeem them, you get back 10% of them to use again. Cash them out for statement credits to pay for virtually any travel purchase (including Southwest flights charged to your card) at a rate of 1 mile = 1 cent.
- 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months. After that it's a 14.99% or 18.99% Variable APR.
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $89.
- Limited-time offer: Get 40,000 bonus miles (redeemable for $400 in statement credits) after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, which is a very low spend requirement compared to other cards. They're only running this promotion for a very short amount of time.
The review below is now outdated since the card offer is no longer available.
What is the annual fee?
The annual fee is $99, which is comparable to many other airline credit cards. However unlike those other guys, this Southwest Airlines card comes with a recurring points bonus every year. After your cardmember anniversary you get 6,000 bonus points (that's enough to score you $100.00 worth of "Wanna Get Away" fares). So when you take that into account, the annual fee is actually quite reasonable. Bur please note the annual fee is NOT waived the first year.
How do the rewards work?
The old Southwest Airlines credit card rewards program was a bit more complicated. Fortunately the newer program they launched a couple years ago is simpler and even better...
- 1 point per $1 on regular purchases
- 2 points per $1 on Southwest Airlines & AirTran Airways purchases (flights, in-flight food/beverage, etc)
- 2 points per $1 at Rapid Rewards partner car rental companies:
- 2 points per $1 at Rapid Rewards partner hotels:
As you can see there are quite a few hotels on that list! But what’s most impressive about the Southwest Airline credit card points is their value…
WARNING: Don’t let other inferior airline cards screw you on rewards! When you run the numbers on the Southwest card, you will see a $350 "Wanna Get Away" flight is yours for only 21,000 points + govt fees. Compare that to the typical 25,000+ mile minimum that many airline cards require for an almost free roundtrip flight (I say almost since all airline frequent flyer programs still charge the applicable taxes and fees out of pocket on the award airfare. It's not just SWA who does that.).
- Many other credit cards: 10,000 points = $100.00 airfare credit
- Southwest Airlines card: 6,000 points = $100.00 credit for "Wanna Get Away" airfare
Please note that the govt fees (which are as low as $10) are not included with the award flights, so you will have to pay those out of pocket.
No change fees?
On top of the fare difference, most airlines charge up to a $150 fee just to changing your stinking flight! SWA is the only major carrier that doesn't charge a fee to change your ticket. All you pay is the fair difference (if applicable).
Both your first AND second checked bags are free… yet another great reason to choose the Southwest Airlines credit card application! Compare to most carriers, which charge you up to $50/roundtrip just for your first bag alone.
No Foreign Transaction Fees?
This is a new perk they added in 2013. Woohoo- now there are no foreign transaction fees!
Get to A-List status faster?
This card can help you get there faster because you earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases. You can earn up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually thru your card. If you make it to A-List, you get these benefits:
Remember the above benefits are NOT from the credit card. They come from your A-List status if you reach it.
Visa Signature benefits?
If you have qualifying credit, you will be approved for the Visa Signature version. This tier of credit card offers the following benefits for free:
Purchase Security* – Have you ever bought an item, only to have something horrible happen to it days or weeks later? Eligible purchases made on your Southwest Airlines Visa Signature card are covered up to 90 days from date of purchase against theft, vandalism, fire damage, accidentally discharged water or certain weather conditions. At their discretion they will pay to repair, replace, or reimburse you – up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder. Verdict for 2013?
Complimentary Concierge* – Enjoy free Visa Signature phone concierge service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Lost Luggage Reimbursement* – When you use your Signature-version credit card to pay for the entire cost of an eligible common carrier ticket (i.e. airline ticket) there is coverage for your carry-on bags and checked luggage if they're lost or stolen, up to $3,000 per trip.
Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver* – This benefit covers eligible rentals against collision damage and theft.
Travel Accident Insurance* – With a covered Visa Signature card, receive travel accident insurance when you pay for tickets (eligible common carrier tickets) in full using the card. This coverage applies to accidental death and dismemberment with up to $250,000 in coverage for eligible incidents.
*Check and confirm with the Chase Southwest credit card customer service for details, exclusions, and limitations. Benefits are subject to change without notice. When applying you are first considered for the Visa Signature tier. If you don't qualify for that, you will be automatically considered for the Visa Platinum tier which has different benefits.
With the new rewards program, benefits, and lucrative signup offer, without a doubt this credit card is a top choice for the airline-affiliated category.
The uber-generous Southwest credit card promotion (update: no longer available)
SWA has one of the best signup promotions you will find. After you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account, you will get 50,000 bonus points. And what can you do with those? Well that can be redeemed for 2 roundtrip flights. This offer has been discontinued.
As mentioned this card offer has been discontinued. Here are some good alternative credit card offers available right now: