Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards: For Business or Leisure

by Sean Bryant on March 3, 2014

Southwest Airlines Credit cardSouthwest Airlines offers four Visa rewards cards ranging from a premiere program to a business program. Each card offers unique services, discounts and mileage points. Choosing the appropriate card for your needs involves assessing the purpose of your travel, how often you fly and the specific desired benefits and amenities of each card. For example, the latest Southwest credit card offer awards 50,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. The following short review of each card type should make your choice simple.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card and Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

There are a number of member benefits for holders of the Rapid Rewards Premier card, including earning two points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines or AirTrans direct purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental purchases made through their partners. Additionally, one point can be earned per dollar spent on other purchases. Points can be redeemed for international flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and gift cards. The card offers bonus rewards points on several occasions, including when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months you hold the card, on your cardholder anniversary and at a selection of spending thresholds. This card also means that when you check in at an airport, your first and second bag will not incur fees, you are not charged a fee if you must change your flight, and you incur no foreign transaction fees for purchases made abroad. Finally, with the Premier card, you can gain A-list and A-list Preferred status with perks such as priority boarding, check-in, stand-by status and security lane access as well as double points on Southwest flights. While the annual fee is higher than the other cards, for the frequent flier, particularly someone traveling abroad, the benefits are substantial.

The Rapid Rewards Plus Card offers the same rate of points per dollar spent but offers fewer point options and no opportunity to reach A-list or A-list Preferred status. However, it does provide the core benefits, including a gratis 3,000 points on your cardholder anniversary, and an annual fee of $69 versus the $99 annual fee of the Premier card.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card and Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card

For the frequent business traveler, Southwest Airlines offers both Rapid Rewards Premier and Rapid Rewards Plus business cards. The Premier business card offers the same rewards as the general Premier card of two earned points per dollar spent on Southwest or AirTrans direct purchases as well as hotel rooms and car rentals through their partners, and cardholders earn one point per dollar spent on other purchases. The Business Premier card also adds access to free business card reporting tools and the capability to sign up for employee cards for free.

Similarly, the Rapid Rewards Plus business card has the same point rewards and offers free business card reporting tools and free employee card signup. This card also includes the capability to redeem points for international flights, hotel rooms, car rentals and gift cards.

While selecting a credit card can be a daunting task in a market flooded with branded cards and general use cards to earn rewards, it can be made much simpler by considering your needs. Think about the purpose and frequency of your travel as business trips demand different benefits than recreational trips do. You’ll also need to consider what rewards will truly benefit you; ask yourself if the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card is necessary and reasonable on your budget, or maybe the Rapid Rewards Plus card will adequately meet your needs.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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