Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Review: Tons of Value For Less

This rewards credit card holds its own among Southwest's lineup of consumer cards.
Last updated Dec 17, 2019 | By Kat Tretina

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If you’re a fan of Southwest Airlines, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, a survey by Morning Consult found that Southwest is the most popular airline in the United States. It’s easy to understand why; with affordable airfare and free checked bags, it’s one of the most cost-effective travel options available.

If you want to stretch your budget further, signing up for a travel rewards card like the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card makes a lot of sense. You can earn rewards and get access to exclusive benefits that enhance your vacation experience.

In this Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus review, find out what perks and benefits the card offers.

Valuable Sign-up Bonus


  • 40,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 3,000 bonus points after cardmember anniversary
  • 2X points on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • Redeem points for flights, gift cards, and more

Who should get this card?

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card is designed for travelers who enjoy booking flights with the budget airline. If you fly on Southwest at least a couple of times a year, you could quickly rack up rewards for future travel.

Southwest offers several different credit card options, but the Plus Card has the lowest annual fee of the consumer Southwest credit cards at just $69. Despite its low fee, it still offers plenty of value. You can use the card to earn points toward qualifying for a Southwest Companion Pass and even score free trips.

However, the Rapid Rewards Plus Card does charge foreign transaction fees. If you travel outside of the U.S., you may want to use a different card to avoid paying extra fees.

Card basics

Annual Fee $69
Intro Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee 3%

Top card benefits

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card offers many valuable benefits, but the exact benefits you receive are dependent on the card level you’re approved for.

Visa will review your application and will look at factors like your credit score, income, and current credit accounts. If the company does decide to approve you for a card, it will designate you as either a Visa Signature or Visa Platinum cardholder. Platinum accounts have a credit limit of at least $2,000. Those with an excellent credit profile will likely be given a Signature account, which have credit limits of at least $5,000 and have more comprehensive benefits.

These benefits apply to Signature accounts:

  • Strong sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • Rewards add up fast: 2X points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Anniversary points: Each year, you’ll receive 3,000 points on your cardmember anniversary. Those points could be worth up to $45.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: If you decline the car rental company’s insurance and use your card for your reservation, you’ll get secondary coverage against theft and collision damage.
  • Baggage delay insurance: If your flight is delayed by six hours or more, you can get up to $100 a day for up to three days in reimbursement for necessities like toiletries or clothing.
  • Roadside dispatch: If you get a flat tire or your car battery dies, you can get 24-hour roadside assistance by calling 1-800-847-2869. Service fees apply.
  • Travel accident insurance: When you use your card to pay for your travel, you’ll receive up to $500,000 in accidental death or dismemberment insurance.
  • Travel and emergency assistance: If you have an emergency while traveling and need help with medical or legal referrals, the Benefit Administrator can help connect you with necessary services.
  • Shopping protections: The card also offers extended warranty protection and purchase protection.
Visa Platinum Benefits Visa Signature Benefits
Auto rental collision damage waiver
Baggage delay insurance
Roadside dispatch
Travel accident insurance
Travel and emergency assistance
Extended warranty protection
Purchase Protection

Earning & redeeming

If you’re a frequent traveler, you can earn significant rewards with the Rapid Rewards Plus Card. By using the card strategically, you can build up points and even score free travel.

Best ways to earn

Southwest Airlines purchases 2X
Hotel & Car Rental Partners 2X
All other purchases 1X

You’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases, such as flights, in-flight WiFi, or in-flight snacks. You’ll also earn Southwest Airlines points per $1 spent at partner hotels and rental partners. Southwest’s partners include big names, such as:

  • Best Western Hotels & Resorts
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Hertz
  • Budget

On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1X points per $1 spent. To build up rewards quickly, use your Rapid Rewards Plus Card for all your travel purchases.

If you want to earn more Rapid Rewards points, it may be worth looking into another credit card, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card. The Priority Card gives you 7,500 points on your cardmember anniversary, four upgraded boardings per year, and 20% back on in-flight purchases. It does have an annual fee of $149, but it has no foreign transaction fees, making it a smart choice for international travelers.

Maximizing your redemptions

The value of your points is dependent on how you redeem them. With the Rapid Rewards Plus Card, there are several different redemption options, including flights, gift cards, merchandise, and hotel stays. Depending on which option you choose, your points can be worth one cent to 1.5 cents each.

Redeeming your points for Southwest flights is the quickest and easiest redemption method, and you’ll likely be able to get the most value for your points. Best of all, there are no blackout dates or travel restrictions. If a seat is available on a flight, you can book it using your points. And if you qualify for Southwest’s Companion Pass, you can choose one person to fly with you, free of charge — you just have to pay the taxes and fees.

Gift cards and merchandise offer the least value of the redemption methods, with points worth just one cent each.

The Rapid Rewards Plus Card does have a $69 annual fee. To offset that cost, you’d have to spend at least $2,300 per year on travel at the 2X points per $1 spent level or $4,600 at the one point per $1 spent level.

Redeeming your points is easy. Just log into your Rapid Rewards account, and book your travel through the site with Southwest or Southwest partners.

Common questions

Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card worth it?

If you’re a regular traveler who typically flies on Southwest Airlines, the Rapid Rewards Plus Card is well worth the annual fee. If you spend at least $2,300 per year on flights, hotels, and car rentals, you can quickly earn enough rewards to justify the cost.

How much is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card bonus worth?

If you redeem your points for flights, your points are worth up to 1.5 cents each. That means your 60,000 bonus is worth up to $900.

What credit score do you need for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card?

To qualify for the Rapid Rewards Plus Card, you’ll need to have a good to excellent credit score. According to Experian, one of three major credit bureaus, a good credit score is in the range of 670 to 739.

Other cards to consider

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card is a smart option for Southwest fans. However, if you prefer to shop around and fly with different airlines, it may not be a good choice for you. Instead, consider a general travel rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card. You’ll earn a higher rate of return on all purchases and have more flexibility with your rewards.

Valuable Sign-up Bonus

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • 50,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees