The sign-up bonus on Southwest credit cards just got bigger

The sign-up bonus on Southwest credit cards just got bigger

Travel demand has skyrocketed in 2023, which means so have the costs. However, savvy travelers can use a travel rewards card to their advantage and leverage perks like rewards and bonus offers to offset their spending.

Southwest is one such issuer that offers a host of lucrative rewards and perks to cardholders. And valuable changes are coming to Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit cards. Namely, the sign-up bonus offered to new customers is increasing from 50,000 points to 75,000 points. Here’s what you need to know about snagging this offer and making the most of your airline credit card.

Southwest increases its bonus for new cardholders 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card have an updated sign-up bonus offer. Now, cardholders can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Previously, new cardholders could earn a 50,000 bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The new sign-up bonus requires a larger spending threshold to be met in order to qualify. However, the large bonus amount of 75,000 points goes a long way toward covering future purchases, whether it’s a dream vacation, holiday gifts, or just about any other purpose.

Overview of Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit cards

Southwest offers three different rewards cards for individuals. If you’re thinking about applying for one, it’s important to pick the card that best matches your spending and travel habits. Here are the key points you should know about each card:

Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Annual fee: $149

Rewards:

  • 3X points on Southwest® purchases, including flight, inflight, and Southwest gift cards
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Additional benefits and perks:

  • $75 Southwest® annual travel credit each year
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings every year when available
  • Boost of 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points every year
  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent in purchases annually
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card here.

Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Annual fee: $99

Rewards:

  • 3X points on Southwest® purchases, including flight, inflight, and Southwest gift cards
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Additional benefits and perks:

  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • Boost of 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points every year
  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent in purchases annually
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card here.

Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Annual fee: $69

Rewards:

  • 2X points on Southwest® purchases, including flight, inflight, and Southwest gift cards
  • 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Additional benefits and perks:

  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year
  • Boost of 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points every year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card here.

How to make the most of your airline rewards card

Maximizing the benefits of an airline rewards credit card doesn’t have to be difficult. But it does require a bit of strategic spending on your part. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your card, whether you choose Southwest or another airline:

  • Know the sign-up bonus requirements: Many airline credit cards offer generous sign-up bonuses, but they usually come with a spending requirement. Be sure you know how much you need to spend and in what time frame in order to earn the bonus. A massive sign-up bonus may not be worth it if you end up taking on too high of a balance to get it.
  • Understand the earning structure: While some rewards cards offer a flat earnings rate on all purchases, many have tiered rewards that offer higher earnings on some categories. For example, travel reward cards generally offer more points or miles for airline and hotel purchases, while other types of rewards cards might give bonus points for dining or entertainment purchases. Familiarize yourself with how you earn points, miles, or cash back with a particular card, and ensure that the rewards structure is a good match for your spending habits. 
  • Avoid carrying a balance: The interest rates on credit cards can be high—often around 20% or more. Avoid carrying a balance from month to month, as the interest charges can quickly negate the value of any rewards earned.
  • Stay loyal: Flying with the same airline or alliance can help you accumulate points or status faster. So when planning travel, aim to stick with the same airline (as long as it makes financial sense).
  • Have a redemption strategy: Most credit card issuers offer multiple ways to redeem rewards, and some options may give more value to points or miles than others. That’s why it’s important to understand the best ways to redeem your miles. While flights are the most common redemption, sometimes using points for seat upgrades, partner airline flights, or other travel-related expenses can offer better value.
  • Consider the annual fee: It’s common for rewards credit cards have annual fees (though not all do). Generally, the better the rewards and perks, the higher the fee. So consider if the benefits you receive from the card outweigh this fee. In some cases, the perks, like free checked bags and airport lounge access, can easily justify the fee. In other cases, you may be better off with a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

The takeaway

If you’re an avid traveler, a travel rewards card can help you earn money back on your spending, plus get other valuable travel-related perks. And if you’re looking to open a new card, choosing one with a welcome bonus can increase the value even more. That said, it’s important to pay your balance on time and in full each month so that interest charges and late fees don’t wipe out your earnings.

For Southwest customers, now is a great time to open a new Rapid Rewards credit card. However, be sure to compare the rewards vs. fees and choose a card that best fits your budget and spending habits.


Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.

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