Travel Tips

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card Review

If you’re looking for a low-fare airline credit card to help earn you miles, the Southwest Rapid Rewards card is a great option. I’ve had it for about 6 years and flown free or very cheap several times. Check out my review below to find out why I recommend this card to all my friends. This is a credit card through Chase Bank.

This is also an overall review of Southwest Airline’s general service, because obviously if you get the credit card you’ll be flying with them more frequently. Note that this review is not sponsored in any way and is my actual opinion!

Value of A Southwest “Point”

On Southwest you earn points rather than miles. You earn points by spending $1 anywhere and getting 1 point OR getting 2 points for every dollar spend with Southwest. So basically, spend $1 and get $1-$2 worth of points. Check out the example scenarios above. Personally, I almost always book Wanna Get Away flights because they’re the cheapest. Of course, if you book higher-tier flights with Anytime or Business Select, it may be worth it since you twice as many points per dollar.

Southwest Flight Point Scenario

For the purposes of this article, I want to show you Southwest’s pricing. I’m pricing a flight that’s two weeks out from today, from Los Angeles to Phoenix for one person. The flight is about an hour long. These flights are on Friday and Sunday. You can see the prices displayed in dollars or points. Here’s the breakdown of departing flights.

  • Wanna Get Away flight at 5:10 AM (Eek!): $130 or 8,394 points
  • Wanna Get Away flight at 9:00 AM: $157 or 10,353 points
  • Wanna Get Away flight at 10:00 AM: $130 or 8,394 points

Below is the breakdown of arriving flights:

  • Wanna Get Away Flight at 6:00 AM: $130 or 8,394 points
  • Wanna Get Away Flight at 8:45 AM: $194 or 13,037
  • Wanna Get Away Flight at 11:30 AM: SOLD OUT so we are going to look at the next tier of flight – Anytime. $256 or 17,536 points.

This should give you a good idea of the value of the point. You can see here that Southwest only sells a certain number of tickets in each class. So they sold out of Wanna Get Away flights at 11:30 AM and if you want this time you’d need to spend about twice as much.

Check out my full list of pros and cons for flying Southwest below.

Pro: Free Checked Bags

Overpackers unite! I love the ease of checking a bag. I don’t have to worry about whether my shampoo is over whatever-ounces and there’s no battle for overhead compartment space with newfound enemies. Southwest lets you TWO free checked bags on each flight and there are no weird restrictions where your bag can only be 4 pounds or something. You can check their baggage rules here. Thank you Southwest, for enabling my overpacking behavior.

Sales for literally any reason

Pro: So Many SALES!

Southwest is notorious for having sales for any and all reasons. They often discount shorter flights to $49-$99 one-way. When I actually went to check this sale, there were 6 destinations listed under $99 one-way. All these destinations were a 2 hour flight or less. Restrictions are that you have to book within a few days and the flights must be at least 3 weeks out. Less cost = less points to book your flight!

Pro: Anniversary Points

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! You get 3,000 points on your card-saversay (when you signed up) just for keeping the account open. Every little bit helps when it comes to earning points.

SW Rapid Rewards

Pro: Rapid Rewards Shopping Bonuses

You already know I’m a big fan of using EBates to get cash back on travel spending. Southwest partners with retailers to give you extra points for spending money at their store. Some examples are Macy’s, Staples, Levi’s, Cost Plus World Market, Best Buy, and Kohl’s. This is really just another way to maximize your point earning.

Pro: No Surprise Fees Or Change Fees

There’s nothing more annoying than finding a sweet deal on a flight only to get to the final screen and discover there’s a bunch of random fees added, DOUBLING the price. That doesn’t happen with Southwest, what you see is what you pay. The only other fee added is a security fee of $5.60 per flight from the US Government. Also, there are no fees if you want to change your flight.

Pro: Companion Pass

This one is really beneficial for those who are frequent flyers. I personally don’t fly enough to take advantage of this, sadly. The Companion Pass means you get to take one person – the same person every time- along with you FREE when you fly. Here are the requirements to fly:

  • Fly 100 one-way flights in a calendar year
  • Earn 110,000 credit card points in a calendar year

There are two other “special” categories you can qualify for which give you special perks and the alluring “STATUS”. “A-List Preferred” flyers need to fly 50 one-way flights a year or earn 70,000 points. “A-List” flyers need to fly 25 one-way flights a year or earn 35,000 points. Check out all the benefits here.

Con: Lowest-Tier Seats Sell Out Frequently

As you saw in the scenario above, lower-tier Wanna Get Away seats tend to sell out the fastest. This hasn’t been too much of a problem for me as I usually just pick a different time. I’m also lucky enough to be within driving distance of 3 Southwest airports so I can pick and choose where I leave from. This is just something to consider if you have time restrictions on your travel or are booking last-minute.

Con: The Annual Fee

Ah, the annual fee. The bane of all credit cards with good rewards. This fee is $69 your first and $99-$149 every year after that. My recommendation to you is – do some math to make sure your annual airline spend justifies the fee. I decided that I would save at least $99 a year by using this credit card, and that’s been true most of the years I’ve had it.

Con: The “Cattle Call”

Those who have flown Southwest know what I’m talking about. Since they do not assign seats, you line up based on your group number. This is assigned based on when you checked in – up to 24 hours in advance if you don’t want to pay an extra $20 fee each way for EarlyBird Checkin. Higher class tickets get to board first. Having said this, this is usually not a problem for me as I tend to travel alone or with one other person. Here are the worst things that can happen in this scenario, along with my suggestions:

  • You don’t get to sit with your person – try heading to the back of the plane if you want two seats together.
  • You get stuck with a middle seat – it’s time to make new friends!
  • You have to duke it out with a random person for overhead bin space – try just checking your bags since it’s free.

Final Thoughts

While Southwest Airlines has their pros and cons, I’ve been a happy card-carrying member for the last 6 years. I was able to fly myself and Dallas to Austin, Texas as well as myself to Florida and back FREE just in the last 2 years. We just bought 2 round-trip tickets to Reno, Nevada and paid around $50 each since we used my points. If Southwest flies to your favorite destinations and you plan to fly at least twice a year, it’s worth the investment.

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