I love Southwest Airlines.
We live about 20 minutes away from Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI), one of Southwest's “hubs,” and the vast majority of our flights are on Southwest Airlines.
When it comes to an airline's rewards credit cards, I'd argue that there are few cards are generous as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card issued by Chase. We've had the Premier version of the card for many years and every single year we're able to renew our Companion Pass, a perk that lets my wife fly whenever I fly.
One of the reasons why the card is so powerful has to do with the signup bonus. It's usually a whopping 50,000 points after spending just $2,000 in the first three months. We put all of our spending on it and with a family of four (OK, it's really just daycare), it's not hard to spend $2,000 in the time limit.
The promotion, like many promotions, comes and goes. Southwest and Chase periodically try different amounts, different structures, so we'll keep this page updated with the latest information.
The 50,000 Offer is…
The current status of the 50,000 signup offer is ACTIVE.
The best Southwest Visa points offer is 50,000 points as if the publish date on this post. The 50,000 Rapid Rewards points offer comes and goes, but most of the time it's the active prevailing offer.
From time to time, Southwest pops a 60,000 point offer like it did for a brief period in 2017. Also, from time to time, they only offer 40,000 or even as little as 25,000 points. 40,000 points is OK, especially if you're trying to make Companion Pass, but 25,000 points is terrible. Don't go for that one.
What to do based on the offer you see:
- 60,000 RR points: If you see the 60,000 point offer, snatch that up quickly. It's not worth waiting for it because it's hard to say when it will return.
- 50,000 RR points: This is the most common offer, usually by referral but sometimes without.
- 40,000 RR points: Unless you have a compelling reason to take it right now, wait until the most common 50,000 point offer appears. It'll be there sooner than you know.
- 25,000 RR points: This is a hard pass. If you only see the 25,000 point offer, definitely wait. The 50,000 points is the most common and that's twice as many points!.
Personally, I believe the 50,000 point offer is good enough to take in most cases but that'll depend on your needs.
Plus vs. Premier Southwest Cards
There are two credit cards linked to the Rapid Rewards program – the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. They are very similar.
Which one should you take?
|Southwest Rapid Rewards|
Plus Credit Card
|Southwest Rapid Rewards|
Premier Credit Card
|Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|0||1,500 towards A-List|
|compare this card with others||compare this card with others|
As you can see, the big difference is in the anniversary points and annual fee. You get the anniversary points on your account's anniversary date, which coincides with when the annual fee is assessed. 3,000 points is worth about $48 so that covers the $30 difference in the annual fee, assuming you use your points regularly. The 1,500 points towards A-List is a nice little bump too, as you need 35,000 TQP to get A-List.
The foreign transaction fee perk matters if you travel a lot. The Premier card is a Visa Signature card, which does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Those are assessed on many cards when you make a purchase in another currency. You get the prevailing exchange rate but the fee is added on afterwards. Not having to pay is better than paying. 🙂
Is the 50,000 RR Points Offer Worth It?
Yes. If you estimate that each Rapid Reward point is worth 1.6 cents, then 50,000 points is worth $800 in flights. This is 1.6 cent rage is based on the dollar cost and point cost of Wanna Get Away fares, the most affordable rates on Southwest.
While you get the 50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, you do have to pay an annual fee on your first statement. You get $800 in points but pay $69 or $99 in an annual fee, depending on which card you choose.
How much are Rapid Rewards Points worth?
The easiest way to figure out the value of each point, which I always think of as ~1.6 cents each, is to compare a flight cost in dollars and in points.
Let's say I look at this flight from BWI to SFO in dollars:
- The Wanna Get Away Fares for Flight 2031/1731 at 6:15am costs $320 or 20,445 – 1.56 cents per point.
- For Flight 1731 at 7:40am, they cost $316 or 20,445 – 1.54 cents per point.
- Bump up to Anytime flights and a $543 flight will cost you 48,342 – 1.1 cents per point.
- Lastly, Business Select is the least valuable – $575 flight for 61,173 – 0.93 cents per point.
It's also best to calculate it with the flights you take the most to get its true value. For us, it's BWI to Long Island / Islip Airport. For those, a $101 one-way Wanna Get Away flight will typically cost us 5,806 points – a rate of 1.74 cents a point.
If you don't want to do the math, just consider them worth about a penny a piece. That'll be conservative enough to help you make a positive decision each time.
The Credit Card Rewards Structure
The rewards structure after the bonus is fairly straightforward.
You earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest purchases as well as hotel and car rental car purchases. You earn 1 point for all other purchases with no limit to the points earned.
The Rapid Rewards points themselves do not expire as long as your Southwest account is active. Southwest Rapid Rewards accounts are active as long as there is any activity on the account, which includes having a credit card. When you fly, that is considered activity as well. The accounts themselves are deactivated after 24 months of inactivity, so you have to go a very long time before you risk deactivation.