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 Sep 19, 2020 | 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 one of the best airline credit cards 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

Benefits

  • 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

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • Has foreign transaction fee

In this Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card review:

Who should get the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus 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 flights.

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

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Chase
Annual fee $69
Sign-up bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
Reward rate 2X points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and participating Rapid Rewards purchases and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card benefits and perks

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 offers credit limits of at least $5,000 and 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 of account opening.
  • Rewards add up fast: 2X points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and participating Rapid Rewards purchases and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Anniversary points: Each year, you’ll receive 3,000 points on your cardmember anniversary. This anniversary bonus can be worth up to $45.
  • Rental car 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.
  • No seat restrictions or change fees: With this card, there are no seat restrictions on award flights. Plus, you won't pay change fees if you need to reschedule your trip.
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

Drawbacks to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card

While this card certainly has its perks, it also comes with some drawbacks, including:

  • Annual fee: The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card has an annual fee of $69. If you'd prefer no annual fee, another card may be a better fit for your wallet.
  • Foreign transaction fee: This card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee. If you travel outside of the U.S. frequently, this card may not be the best option for you.
  • Limited perks: If you're a frequent Southwest flyer, you may get more value from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. While that card comes with a higher annual fee of $149, it also offers no foreign transaction fees, a $75 annual Southwest credit, and tier qualifying points that can help you achieve Southwest A-List status. 

Earning & redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Potential earnings in years one and two

Here's a look at how your points can add up with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of $0.014.

Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

Year one earnings: $960

Year two earnings: $400

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model which takes a look at points earned via spending, the sign-up bonus, and the annual fee.

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.

The values above reflect general travel spending and do not take spending with Southwest into account. However, it's likely that if you have the Rapid Rewards Plus Card, you'll be using it for Southwest purchases. You'll get even more value from this card when you use it for that purpose.

Best ways to earn

Southwest Airlines and participating Rapid Rewards purchases 2X
All other purchases 1X

You’ll earn 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and participating Rapid Rewards purchases, such as flights, in-flight WiFi, or in-flight snacks. You’ll also earn 2X points per $1 spent at partner hotels and on car rental partner purchases. 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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card FAQs

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.

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

To qualify for the Rapid Rewards Plus Card, you’ll likely 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.

Which Southwest credit card is best?

The best Southwest credit card for you is the one that aligns with your needs and goals. If you are looking for an inexpensive card with a decent sign-up bonus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card may be the best card for you. However, if your goal is to qualify for Southwest A-List status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority or Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card may be a better choice for you.

Frequent Southwest flyers may get the most value from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card. This credit card offers 4 free upgraded bookings each calendar year, an annual $75 Southwest credit, and 7,500 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary.

How much is 40,000 Southwest points worth?

The value of your Southwest Rapid Rewards points will vary, depending on the award flight you choose. But on average, Southwest points are worth around $0.014 apiece, so 40,000 points would equal $560 in Southwest flights.

Do Southwest points expire?

Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire as long as your account remains open.

Other cards to consider

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card is a decent 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 of a co-branded airline card, consider a general travel rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card

With these credit cards, you’ll earn a higher rewards rate on your purchases and have the option to transfer your points to several airline and hotel partners. If you're looking for flexibility, both of these credit card rewards programs provide that.

Valuable Sign-up Bonus

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 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
  • 100,000 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