Southwest Airlines is kind of polarizing. If you’ve never flown Southwest before, the open boarding policy can be confusing and hectic. While I don’t love this policy, my husband and I fly Southwest all the time. With our Southwest Companion Pass, whenever I book a ticket, he flies free. Well, almost free. We still have to pay the taxes, but you get the point. Companion Pass or not, Southwest is one of the most affordable airlines in the United States, especially if you open a Southwest credit card or two. Here’s the ultimate guide to the Southwest credit cards from Chase complete with a comparison chart and recommendation on what Southwest credit card is right for you.

Who Should Apply for a Southwest Credit Card?

As I mentioned above, a Southwest credit card can be beneficial to even a casual Southwest traveler. However, the real draw for opening Southwest credit cards is earning the Companion Pass. After earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, you will receive the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year and the entire next year. That means whoever you select as your Companion can get free flights for up to two years…all you have to do is pay $5.60 in fees for each one-way segment in the United States! Check out our complete guide to earning the Companion Pass here.

Torrey Pines Beach
We flew to San Diego for next to nothing thanks to the Companion Pass!

Application Rules

There are currently five Southwest credit cards available from Chase. This includes three personal cards and two business cards. When applying for Southwest credit cards, there are a few rules to keep in mind:

  • 5/24 rule: Like with all Chase credit card applications, thanks to the infamous 5/24 rule, you will not be approved for any of these cards if you opened more than five credit cards from any bank in the past 24 months.
  • Restrictions on personal cards: If you are a current Southwest personal cardholder or a previous cardholder who received a sign-up bonus in the past 24 months, you won’t be eligible for another Southwest personal card. This restriction does not apply to business cards.
  • Sign-up bonus restrictions: You can only receive the sign-up bonus on a card once every 24 months.

In short, you can apply for one Southwest personal credit card and both Southwest business cards every two years. Depending on the sign-up bonus at the time, you can usually earn the Companion Pass with just two cards. If you fly Southwest frequently, it might be worth it to get all three cards.

Southwest Credit Card Comparison Table

Southwest Rapid Rewards PlusSouthwest Rapid Rewards PremierSouthwest Rapid Rewards PrioritySouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier BusinessSouthwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business
Type of CardPersonalPersonalPersonalBusinessBusiness
Annual Fee$69$99$149$99$199
Anniversary Bonus3,0006,0007,5006,0009,000
Earning Structure2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners

1x on everywhere else
2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners

1x on everywhere else
2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners

1x on everywhere else
2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners

1x on everywhere else
3x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners

2x on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services

1x on everywhere else
Benefits$75 Southwest annual travel credit

Four upgraded boardings per year

20% back on inflight purchases
Four upgraded boardings per year

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement

Up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year
Tier Qualifying PointsEarn up to 15,000 TQPs a year, 1,500 for each $10,000 spentEarn up to 15,000 TQPs a year, 1,500 for each $10,000 spentEarn up to 15,000 TQPs a year, 1,500 for each $10,000 spent
Foreign Transaction Fee3%NoneNoneNoneNone

Benefits at a Glance

The Southwest Priority card and Southwest Performance business card are the only two that have any substantial benefits. Here’s a quick glance at the benefits of these two cards.

$75 Southwest Travel Credit

The $75 annual Southwest travel credit is the best benefit on the Southwest Priority card. For a Southwest frequent flyer, it’s as good as cash. The credit is received in the form of a statement credit when you use your card to pay for the following: airfare, taxes, pet carrier fees, and other day-of┬átravel purchases. It looks like it even works for gift card purchases. However, the travel credit excludes upgraded boardings and inflight purchases. You can read more about the travel credit here.

An example of using the Southwest travel credit to pay for taxes on a flight

Inflight Wi-Fi Credits

This benefit is specific to the Southwest Performance business card. Each year, you’ll get up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits in the form of a statement credit. If you have multiple Southwest flights in a day, you only have to purchase Wi-Fi once and it will work on the other flights too! If you are flying with someone else, multiple Wi-Fi purchases on the same day will be reimbursed. You would have to travel a lot to use 365 credits in a year, but it’s nice to know the Wi-Fi will be free every time you fly. You can read more about the Wi-Fi credit here.

You can use the inflight Wi-Fi credit for multiple people on the same flight!

Upgraded Boarding

The Southwest Priority card and Southwest Performance business card each come with four upgraded boardings per year. Upgraded boarding allows you to upgrade to positions A1-A15, depending on what’s available. You can purchase upgraded boarding at the departure gate or ticket counter the day of travel. The price is based on your itinerary but usually varies between $30-$50. If you have connecting flights, you will have to upgrade each segment separately. You can use more than one upgraded boarding on the same day to upgrade multiple tickets. Like with the other benefits, you’ll receive a statement credit to cover the cost of the upgraded boarding. You can read more about upgraded boarding here.

An example of the statement credit for upgraded boarding

Which Southwest Credit Card Should I Get?

Southwest Personal Credit Card Recommendation

Since you can only get the sign-up bonus on one Southwest personal card every two years, you have to choose carefully! For this comparison, let’s say the sign-up bonus is the same on each card, which is typically the case.

Comparing the Anniversary Bonus

First, let’s compare the anniversary bonus on each card. Valuing Rapid Rewards points at 1.4 cents each, the Plus card returns 3,000 points worth $42, the Premier card returns 6,000 points worth $84, and the Priority card returns 7,500 points worth $105. As a reminder, the annual fees are $69, $99, and $149 for the Plus, Premier, and Priority cards, respectively. If you deduct the value of the anniversary bonus from the annual fee for each, you’re left with $27, $15, and $44, respectively. By this calculation alone, it looks like the Southwest Premier card gives the best value. While the annual fee is $30 more than the Plus card, the extra 3,000 anniversary points make a difference.

Comparing the Other Benefits

southwest premier

Now, let’s see how the benefits of the Priority card come into play. If you fly Southwest regularly, which I suspect you might if you earn a Companion Pass, the $75 Southwest annual travel credit is almost as good as cash. Even if you book all of your flights with points, you can get the taxes reimbursed thanks to the annual travel credit. If you book about 15 flights per year on Southwest, you can use this credit entirely on the taxes ($5.60 per segment). Even if you only use half of the credit, this almost offsets that extra $44 on the annual fee after taking the anniversary bonus into consideration.

The four upgraded boardings could save you $30-$50 per flight, or $120-$200 per year. However, if you don’t normally buy upgraded boarding, I wouldn’t take this into consideration. You also get 20% back on inflight purchases, but again, if you’re good with the free soft drinks, don’t put too much weight on this.

Final Recommendation

southwest priority

My final recommendation for Southwest personal cards? If you think you can use at least $44 of the $75 annual Southwest travel credit, then go with the Priority card. The travel credit and anniversary points will cover the annual fee and then you get some fun extras like upgraded boarding and inflight discounts. If you don’t fly Southwest too frequently and just want the sign-up bonus for a few flights here and there, the Premier card is a good choice. While the annual fee is more expensive than the Plus card, the higher anniversary bonus makes up for it.

Southwest Business Credit Card Recommendation

I personally think it’s worth getting both, but if you have to pick just one, here’s what you’ll want to consider.

southwest premier business

Comparing the Anniversary Bonus

First, let’s compare the sign-up bonuses. I generally go for the highest sign-up bonus regardless of the annual fee. The bonus on the Performance card is usually at least 10,000 points higher than the Premier, so to me that alone is worth choosing the Performance card.

When looking at the benefits alone, are the extra benefits of the Southwest Performance card worth the $100 difference in the annual fees? When comparing the anniversary bonuses, the extra 3,000 points from the Performance card are worth about $42 dollars (valuing points at 1.4 cents each). That means you’re paying an extra $58 for the additional benefits from the Performance card.

Comparing the Other Benefits

If you take advantage of upgraded boarding regularly, this could save you $30-$50 per flight, or $120-$200 per year. With the Wi-Fi credit, you can save $8 each time, up to $2,920 per year. However, if these are perks you would never use otherwise, I wouldn’t too much weight on them.

Southwest Performance Business Card

What benefits should you disregard when choosing a card? First is the points earning structure. You earn 3x points on Southwest flights with the Performance card compared to 2x points with the Premier. However, I wouldn’t recommend this card for buying flights anyway, so don’t take this into consideration unless you are trying to earn tier qualifying points. Lastly, you could value the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck benefit at $85-$100 but I wouldn’t take this into consideration either since so many other credit cards offer this benefit. If you’re a credit card churner, I’d be surprised to hear you don’t have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck yet.

Final Recommendation

My final recommendation for Southwest business cards? If the sign-up bonus on the Performance business card is higher than the Premier business card, go with the Performance card. If the sign-up bonuses are equal and you don’t regularly use inflight Wi-Fi and/or upgraded boarding, I would recommend the Southwest Premier business card due to the lower annual fee.

Final Thoughts

That’s a ton of information to digest about the five Southwest credit cards from Chase. In general, I recommend getting one personal card and two business cards to earn the Companion Pass and have some extra points to play around with. While you can only get one personal card, if you’re a Southwest frequent flyer, you’ll want to choose the Southwest Priority card due to its superior benefits.

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