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As a low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines offers a pretty bare-bones experience compared to most other airlines. Southwest notoriously doesn’t pre-assign seating or offer a premium cabin. However, it makes up for it with benefits like free changes and two checked bags at no additional cost.

Flying Southwest can be an even more pleasant experience if you have a Southwest credit card in your wallet. Carrying just a $69 annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card presents an excellent value proposition for those who want to improve their travel experience.

Here are five ways the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card makes traveling easier.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work
  • APR20.49% - 27.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$69
  • 50,000 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners. This airline credit card earns 2X points per dollar spent with Southwest and on Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. It also earns 2X points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including ride-sharing services, as well as on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Finally, the credit card earns 1X points on all other purchases. Our favorite Rapid Rewards Plus perks include the 3,000 bonus points and 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins awarded to cardholders on the anniversary of your account opening. It’s all added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the introductory sign-up bonus.

Overview

This is the entry-level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners, and new cardholders can earn a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, which can help get you closer to booking flights for your next travel destination. This card also earns 3,000 anniversary points each year.

Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible.

Pros

  • 2x points on Southwest purchases, local transit and commuting, select streaming and more
  • Annual fee that's palatable
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®

Cons

  • In exchange for a lower annual fee, the card's ongoing benefits may seem lackluster
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Earn Points for Free Flights

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, you can earn points for every purchase and use them for flights, hotel stays, experiences, and more. The card earns 2X points per dollar on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partner bookings, local transit and commuting, rideshare, internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases. All other purchases earn 1X point per dollar spent.

The  Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card also has a 50,000 point welcome bonus after you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening. Southwest points are worth 1.4 cents each. With 50,000 points, you may book about $700 worth of flights on Southwest Airlines, which is generous for a card with a $69 annual fee. But as an infomercial would say, “that’s not all” — you also get 3,000 bonus points every card anniversary (worth $42) right out of the gate.

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Companion Pass

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When you sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, you have the chance to earn a Companion Pass®, which allows someone to fly with you for free (plus taxes and fees) on any flight booked using your points or with cash. This is a great way to save money when traveling with family or friends.

Normally, you have to earn 135,000 qualifying points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights during a calendar year to earn Companion Pass. Once you have it, Companion Pass is usually valid through the end of the following year, meaning a pass earned in June 2023 is good through December 2024. You can change your designated companion up to three times per calendar year, providing plenty of flexibility if you want to use the pass for different travelers throughout the year.

EarlyBird Check-In®

If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, you’ve probably experienced the stress of remembering to check in for your flight exactly 24 hours in advance to secure a good boarding group. Southwest doesn’t do assigned seating, but it does issue boarding groups during check-in 24 hours before your flight. The earlier your boarding group, the better your chance of getting the seat you want and plenty of overhead space for your bag. You can purchase EarlyBird Check-In starting at $15, which can be worthwhile to some people.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card will reimburse you the cost of two EarlyBird Check-Ins every year. Not only does EarlyBird Check-In make traveling on Southwest more pleasant, but you can recoup at least $30 of your $69 credit card annual fee this way.

Discounts on In-Flight Purchases

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus comes with a 25% inflight purchase discount. Now granted, Southwest doesn’t offer in-flight meals, so this benefit is somewhat limited. However, you can use it to pay less for Wi-Fi and premium drinks, which could go a long way in easing your travels. The card also comes with one year of free DashPass membership, which you can use to pay no delivery fees on DoorDash and Caviar. This benefit could come in handy if you arrive at your hotel late at night and want a good meal without leaving your room. The DashPass benefit is available to activate through December 2024.

Travel With Peace of Mind

inside Southwest plane

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card offers excellent travel protection benefits, such as lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection. These benefits can help protect you from unexpected issues or delays while traveling. Here’s a closer look at what (and who) is covered under each benefit when you pay for travel with your card.

Lost Luggage Reimbursement

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s lost luggage reimbursement covers you and an immediate family member’s checked and carry-on bag against damage and loss caused by the airline. This benefit will reimburse up to $3,000 per passenger, which is plenty for most travelers.

Baggage Delay Insurance

If your baggage doesn’t appear on the carousel, you can rest assured that you're covered. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s baggage delay insurance kicks in when your luggage is delayed by over six hours. You can claim up to $100 per day for three days to pay for essentials like toiletries and clothing.

Purchase Protection

Purchase protection is a must when you’re making valuable purchases up to $500. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card’s purchase protection covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. That’s incredibly generous for a low-annual-fee card like this one.

When traveling, this benefit can give you peace of mind that if a new item gets stolen or damaged while exploring a destination, you can recoup all or at least some of the cost.

Extended Warranty Protection

Extended warranty protection is great for those times when your expensive gadgets stop working. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card’s coverage extends the U.S. manufacturer's warranty by an additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less.

That's great if, for example, you purchase luggage with a one-year warranty and on day 368, the zipper breaks or a wheel falls off. You can file a claim and get assistance in the repair or replacement of your much-needed travel gear.

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Bottom Line

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus is a great credit card for frequent Southwest flyers. It offers generous rewards on everyday spending, an annual point bonus, discounts on in-flight purchases, and reimbursement for the all-important EarlyBird Check-In.

Simplify your next trip

Ready to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card? Start here.

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

Considering Southwest doesn’t charge fees for checked bags or flight changes, it’s a terrific airline to fly. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card can make the experience even better. Even if you only fly Southwest a couple of times a year, you can get your money’s worth from this card through the EarlyBird Check-In fee reimbursement perk and annual 3,000-point bonus.

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Ariana Arghandewal

Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser, an online publication dedicated to rewards travel topics. She brings over a decade of experience writing about travel, points, miles and credit cards. Her expertise includes her roles as an editor for distinguished travel and finance publications such as NerdWallet, The Points Guy and FlyerTalk. She has also authored many articles featured in major financial news & travel channels like Forbes, U.S. News Weekly, Business Insider & Fodor’s Travel.