The Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards for 2022


From no bag fees on your first two checked bags to flexible fares that often undercut bigger competitors, there are plenty of reasons to choose Southwest Airlines over Delta, United, or American Airlines.

Add one more to the list: the handful of credit cards designed specifically for loyal Southwest flyers. And those for travelers who might not consider themselves Southwest loyalists, but who definitely want to keep their air travel options open.

Which Southwest Airlines credit card is the best? That depends on what you look for in a travel credit card.

The Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards of 2022

These are the best Southwest Airlines credit cards on the market right now. 

You’ll notice right off the bat that all are co-branded with Chase, Southwest’s top financial institution partner. Likewise, you’ll notice that all have similar rewards programs that favor purchases with Southwest Airlines.

Beyond these features, each card is a bit different. They each do at least one thing really well, and we’ve determined that our “best overall” pick is the one that offers the best bang for your buck.

Or mile, as the case may be.


Best Overall: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card

The best credit card for Southwest flyers is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. As the most generous of the three Southwest personal credit cards, it’s ideal for anyone who regularly flies with Southwest Airlines.

Why choose Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority? Key benefits include:

  • $75 Southwest travel credit each year you remain a cardholder in good standing
  • Four upgraded boardings each year (when available)
  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 spent in purchases each year — TQPs count toward A-List status, and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
  • 25% back on eligible in-flight purchases
  • 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points as a welcome offer when you spend at least $1,000 within three months of account opening

Here’s what else you can expect from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card:

  • 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards points after your cardmember anniversary each year
  • 3x points on eligible Southwest purchases, including airfare, in-flight purchases, and Southwest gift cards
  • 2x points on eligible local transit and commuting purchases, including rideshare, tolls, parking garages, and more
  • 2x points on eligible internet, cable, phone, and select streaming services
  • 2x points on purchases with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases
  • $149 annual fee

Best for Early Check-in: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card Premier

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with two EarlyBird check-ins each year you remain a cardholder in good standing. That’s a $30 value each year when fully exploited.

With EarlyBird, you get automatic check-in and a better boarding position. That means earlier access to overhead bins, which are notoriously competitive on Southwest Airlines flights. So if you want to avoid gate-checking your bag — or storing it many rows away from your seat — Rapid Rewards Premier is your card. 

Additional features:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you spend at least $1,000 within three months of account opening
  • 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after your cardmember anniversary
  • 3x points on eligible Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x points on eligible local transit and commuting purchases
  • 2x points on eligible internet, cable, phone, and select streaming services purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards car rental and hotel partner purchases
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases
  • $99 annual fee

Best for Low Annual Fee: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is the most affordable of the three Southwest consumer credit cards. The annual fee is just $69, lower than most competing co-branded and general-purpose travel credit cards.

That’s not all you get from the Southwest Plus card, of course. Here’s what else you can expect:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 in purchases within three months of account opening
  • Two EarlyBird check-ins each year ($30 value)
  • 3,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • 25% back on eligible in-flight purchases
  • 3x points on eligible Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x points on eligible commuting and local transit purchases
  • 2x points on eligible purchases of internet, cable, phone, and select streaming services
  • 2x points on eligible purchases with Rapid Rewards car rental and hotel partners
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases
  • $69 annual fee

Best Entry-Level Business Card: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is the best Southwest business credit card for business owners who don’t travel often enough to justify a triple-digit annual fee.

At $99, the annual fee is reasonable — and offset several times over by a sign-up bonus that promises 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Here’s what else the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card offers:

  • Two EarlyBird check-ins each year (worth $30)
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year
  • 25% back on eligible in-flight purchases
  • 3x points on eligible Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x points on eligible commuting and local transit purchases
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases

Best Premium Business Card: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

For business owners with bigger budgets, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is the best Southwest Airlines credit card on the market.

Yes, it has a higher annual fee ($199), but that’s a small price to pay for an impressive slate of benefits. In fact, this is the most generous Southwest card around, thanks to:

  • 80,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in eligible purchases during the first three months your account is active
  • 9,000 anniversary bonus points each year
  • Four upgraded boardings (when available)
  • 365 Wi-Fi credits each year — basically, up to one $8 credit against in-flight Wi-Fi every day of the year

That’s not all. With Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance, you also enjoy:

  • 4x points on eligible Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 3x points on eligible purchases with Rapid Rewards car rental and hotel partners
  • 2x points on eligible commuting and local transit purchases
  • 2x points on eligible purchases of internet, cable, phone, social media, and search engine advertising services
  • 1x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Employee cards at no extra cost
  • Up to $500 in credits against point transfer fees charged when you use your card to transfer points to another Rapid Rewards member
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Up to $100 credit against TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every year

Methodology: How We Select the Best Southwest Credit Cards

These credit cards all have one big thing in common: They’re designed for people who regularly fly with Southwest Airlines.

But they’re not identical. Far from it. To compile and sort this list, we look at several key factors that go beyond the fact that all of these cards earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points — although how many points they earn and on what types of purchases both factor into our analysis. 

Rewards Program

The rewards program is key to any rewards credit card’s value proposition. To evaluate it, we ask questions like:

  • What’s the rewards rate on purchases the ideal user cares most about — in this case, Southwest Airlines purchases?
  • What’s the rewards rate on other types of purchases?
  • How broad are those other purchase categories?
  • Does the rewards program reward small businesses, individuals, or both?

Usually, we also consider how much points are worth at redemption. But because all these cards earn the same loyalty currency — Southwest Rapid Rewards points — that question is moot. 

Benefits for Southwest Flyers

Beyond its rewards program, each of these cards offers potentially valuable benefits and perks for Southwest flyers. Depending on the card, these include:

  • Upgraded boarding positions, usually limited to a certain number per year
  • Annual Southwest fee credits
  • Discounts on certain in-flight purchases, such as beverages and Wi-Fi
  • Bonus point awards on your account anniversary
  • Application fee credits against expedited entry credentials (TSA PreCheck and Global Entry)

All else being equal, we prefer Southwest cards with more generous benefits.

Sign-Up Bonus

Each of these cards has a sign-up bonus for new cardholders. And each of those bonuses is quite generous by travel rewards card standards. 

But the specific number matters — 80,000 bonus points gets you more airfare value than 50,000 points, all else being equal.

Annual Fee

How much will this card cost us before we earn a single reward point?

That’s the question we ask about every credit card we evaluate. Another, more direct way to ask it is: “What is this credit card’s annual fee?”

Each of the cards on this list has an annual fee. The lowest annual fee is $69; the highest is $199. 

Spend enough and you’ll have no trouble offsetting these fees, but they’re worth watching if you’re an occasional Southwest flyer or just a low spender in general. That’s why we tend to prefer cards with lower annual fees — although generous rewards and frequent flyer benefits do affect that preference.

Other Fees

The annual fee might grab the most attention, but it’s not the only credit card fee worth paying attention to. Others include:

  • Foreign transaction fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Cash advance fees
  • Late and returned payment fees

All factor into our analysis here.

Range of Ideal Users

When evaluating a credit card, it’s important to understand the use cases for it. The more versatile the card is and the greater the number of potential users it speaks to, the better. So we’ve ranked these Southwest cards by how broad their appeal is likely to be.


Southwest Credit Card FAQS 

Still have questions about the best Southwest credit cards? You’re not alone. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program is complicated, and each of these cards puts its own spin on it. So we’ve rounded up some of the most common questions here.

What Is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is widely recognized as the best companion airfare deal for domestic travelers in the United States.

Yeah, it’s that good. With Companion Pass, you can choose one person — like a spouse or child — to fly with you on Southwest Airlines free of airline charges for a limited period of time. You do still have to pay government taxes and fees for the person, but those account for a relatively small share of domestic airfare — they start at $5.60 per ticket.

Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the year in which it’s earned and for the entire calendar year that follows. You can use it whenever you purchase Southwest airfare and when you redeem points for Southwest airfare.

The catch is that Companion Pass is the pinnacle of Southwest’s A-List status loyalty program, so it isn’t easy to get.

How Do You Earn a Companion Pass?

To earn Companion Pass, you need to do one of the following in a calendar year:

  • Complete 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest
  • Earn 125,000 qualifying points, known as Tier Qualifying Points

The second option sounds easier than the first, but that’s not necessarily true. That’s because not all Rapid Rewards points count as Tier Qualifying Points for Companion Pass. 

Points earned on purchased Southwest flights count as Tier Qualifying Points, as do points earned on purchases with certain Southwest partners (including some popular hotel brands). You also receive 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend on your Southwest credit card.

Confused yet? This Southwest Airlines guide has more detail. The bottom line is that however you go about it, you have to spend a lot — or fly a lot — to earn Companion Pass.

Is There a Southwest Airlines Credit Card With No Annual Fee?

Not at the moment. The most affordable Southwest Airlines credit card is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. Its annual fee is $69.

Who Can Get a Southwest Airlines Credit Card?

Any U.S. resident who meets credit, income, and prior cardmembership criteria is eligible for a Southwest Airlines credit card.

Credit and income standards vary by card, but you generally need a good credit score or better and a low debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a Southwest card.

There may also be a time-based limit on your eligibility for a Southwest Airlines credit card. According to Chase, which backs all the Southwest co-branded cards, you’re limited to one new personal Southwest card every 24 months. This is true even if you applied for, received, and then closed a personal Southwest credit card account.

It’s unclear if this rule is ironclad or if Chase makes exceptions on a case-by-case basis. What’s more clear is that the rule doesn’t apply to Southwest’s business cards — you can apply for a Southwest business credit card right after applying for a Southwest personal card, or vice versa.

If you’re unsure about your eligibility, contact Chase’s customer service department.


How to Choose the Best Southwest Credit Card

Choosing a new airline credit card can be exciting — and also overwhelming. Fortunately, if you’re set on a co-branded Southwest Airlines credit card, you only have so many options to choose from.

Five, to be exact.

OK, that’s not too many. But it’s a long way from five down to one when each option seems so appealing.

My advice: Take a step back and think about what’s most important to you in a credit card. Or, at the very least, in a Southwest credit card.

Perhaps that’s a fantastic rewards program. Or extra-valuable side perks and benefits. Or a low annual fee. Or a juicy sign-up bonus.

No matter your preference, there’s a Southwest card for you. 



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