Answers to All Your Southwest Plus & Premier Card Questions, Including Which You Should Get!

Over the past few years, I’ve received many questions related to the Southwest Premier and Plus cards.  A few of them: Which card should I get?  Which card should I get first?  What’s the signup bonus worth?

Those questions, and others, are back at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds because both the Premier and Plus cards are now available with a 50,000 Rapid Rewards points signup bonus.

Read on for my answers to those questions and many other related questions I often get regarding the Southwest cards.

Southwest Airplane Taking Off The Honeymoon Guy 800w
Get the valuable signup bonus from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier or Plus card and you may soon be on a free flight to a tropical island like Jamaica.

Note: This post, like all my posts, is my personal content.  It is based on extensive personal experience and the reported experiences of other members of the public.  Contact Chase directly if you’d like official answers to questions.

Which Southwest Card Should I Get – The Premier or Plus?

My answer to this question depends primarily on whether or not you’re going for the Southwest Companion Pass (CP).

If you are going after the CP, my answer is….both!  The CP is an incredible perk and there’s no easier path to it than the one that starts with getting both the Premier and the Plus cards.  If you get both cards with 50,000 point signup bonuses in the same calendar year, after you’ve completed the minimum spending requirements, you’ll have at least 104,000 points towards the CP threshold of 110,000.  And the 104,000 Rapid Rewards points are worth almost $1,500 per my valuations.

Check out these posts for everything you’d want to know about the Southwest Companion Pass:

If you’re not going for the CP and only want to apply for one of the two personal cards, and may not renew the card after the first year, I recommend applying for the Plus card.  It currently will get you just as many Rapid Rewards points for the signup bonus (50,000) as the Premier but the Plus will save you $30 on the annual fee ($69 vs. $99).  The Premier card’s higher annual fee is offset by the larger anniversary bonus of 6,000 Rapid Rewards points (3,000 for the Plus) so if you plan on holding onto the card for years, and using all those points, it’s essentially a wash from that perspective.

If you’re planning to use the card internationally though you’ll want to get the Premier card, because foreign transaction fees are waived with it, whereas they are not for the Plus card.

In Which Order Should I Apply for the Southwest Premier and Plus Cards?

This is the question I usually get from people who are going to apply for both the Premier and Plus cards.

First off, realize that it’s reasonable to apply for both at the same time or mere days apart.  Many folks have been approved for both cards at the same time but your odds of success in my opinion are a bit lower than waiting at least a month or two between applications.

To be clear, I don’t think there is a huge benefit to applying for one first versus the other.  However, my soft recommendation is to apply for the Plus card first, for several reasons.

The Plus card has the lower annual fee and a few less perks.  So in a general sense it’s a lower-end card and therefore presumably a bit easier to get an approval for it (though of course banks like Chase don’t usually divulge approval rates).

One of the features you get with the Premier card that you don’t get with the Plus card is the waiving of foreign transaction fees.  If you end up having to speak to a human at Chase to justify why you want a second Southwest card, that makes for a very understandable reason.  You can simply state that you have the Plus card but because you’ll be making some international purchases you really want the Premier card also, for its no-foreign-transaction-fee feature.  Of course that justification won’t work if you apply in the opposite order.  Another usually-well-received justification for wanting a second Southwest card (or any additional card with a bank) is the desire to separate expenses onto different cards.

Sunrise over the Caribbean at Hyatt Zilara Cancun 420
Patty and I used some of the 50,000 Rapid Rewards points from the signup bonus for the Premier card to fly to Cancun, shown here, for free (except for taxes).

Also, the Premier card is more often offered with a 50,000 points signup bonus so if you’re spacing out applications and you apply for the Premier card first there is more of a chance you miss out on a second signup bonus (i.e. the 50,000 point offer for the Plus is more likely to be pulled).

Now, let me reiterate… Though there are some reasons to apply for the Plus card first and the Premier card second, that’s by no means essential.  Patty just applied for the Plus card this month, while having a Premier account already open and active (it had been opened months ago).  She was instantly approved for the Plus card with a $30k+ credit line!

How Can I Increase My Chances of Instant Approval?

If you don’t have a bunch of cards with Chase and your credit score is strong, anecdotal evidence shows you have a good chance of getting instantly approved for a Southwest card.

If you do have a few cards with Chase already, note that anecdotal evidence over the past year or so has indicated an apparent shift in Chase’s approval process.  Chase now seems to be less likely to give an instant approval to an applicant who already has a very high total credit line with Chase.

Fortunately there is an easy solution for this: Prior to applying for a new Chase card, you can lower the credit line of an existing Chase card (or cards) you’re not using extensively.  Patty and I have both employed this approach multiple times over the past year or so and we’ve received multiple instant approvals.

To lower the credit line on an existing card simply call the number on the back of the card (or send a secure message through the Chase website) and make the request.  You probably won’t be questioned but if you are you can simply state that you are doing an inventory of your cards and lowering credit lines if they are above your anticipated needs.

Should I Call the Reconsideration Line if My Application Isn’t Instantly Approved?

A year or more ago, my answer to this question would have been yes, but it is now no, not right away.

There is a huge amount of recent anecdotal evidence that allowing an application to work its way through Chase’s system is more likely to result in an approval.  In the past year or so, many, many people have received approval for Chase cards a couple weeks after applying when they’ve simply sat tight and not called Chase.  Conversely, people that called in immediately after applying and spoke to a human have increasingly had applications denied, even when offering to move credit line from another card.

I suggest only calling the Chase reconsideration line (888-245-0625) if you receive an actual denial letter from Chase.

Hyatt Zilara Ziva Rose Hall Montego Bay Jamaica Barefoot Jerkz 640
Patty and I used some of our points from the signup bonus for the Plus card to fly free (except for taxes) to Jamaica, where we chowed down on some Caribbean Jerk Chicken at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.

Will the Annual Fee Count Towards the Minimum Spending Requirement?

No.  Most credit card offers usually include the word purchases in the spending requirement text.  That’s an indication that fees will not count towards the spending requirement.  Sometimes the wording will also include the word net in front of purchases.  That’s the bank’s way of conveying that you may not receive the signup bonus if you meet the minimum spending threshold but then go back below it due to a return or dispute.

What is the 50,000 Rapid Rewards Signup Bonus Worth?

Based on my valuations as of writing, 50,000 Rapid Rewards are worth about $700!  With the Companion Pass, the points can essentially be worth twice as much, meaning a single signup bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points could yield you about $1,400 in flight value!

Are Either of These Cards Affected by the “5/24” Rule?

There have been rumors of the so-called 5/24 rule being applied to all Chase cards in the future but to date that hasn’t happened.  As of writing, it appears the rule is only applied to Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (Sapphire Preferred, Freedom and perhaps Freedom Unlimited and Ink).  So for now you don’t have to worry about the 5/24 rule when applying for a Southwest card.

Is there a Business Southwest Card?

There is indeed a business version of the Southwest card.  It has some similar benefits to the personal cards but the spending requirement is different.  Because it’s a business card, it’s less relevant for many people.  Note that individuals can get approved for business cards though – more to come on that in a future post!  To keep this post from getting too long and complicated I haven’t included commentary about the business card here.

Will Points From the Cards Count Toward Tier (A-List) Qualification?

None of the spending on a Plus card will count towards tier qualification.  Spending on a Premier card will not generally earn you points toward tier qualification.  However, for every $10,000 you spend in a year on a Premier card you’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year).

See Southwest’s page on Tiers for more information on the benefits of each tier.

Will Points From the Cards Count Toward Companion Pass Qualification?

Yes – that’s how I’ve earned Companion Pass twice!  If you’re asking this, you must not have read any of my CP articles! 😉  Here are the links to my CP articles, one more time:

St. Louis Arch Aruba Beach Orlando Disney World The Honeymoon Guy
In addition to Cancun and Jamaica, we’ve used Rapid Rewards points and our Companion Pass to fly to St. Louis, Aruba, Orlando and many more spots, all for free (excluding taxes)!

Should I Use My Southwest Card for Everyday Purchases?

If you’re shooting for the CP and won’t earn the points another way, then using a Southwest card for everyday purchases is certainly reasonable.

Similarly, if you’re aiming for tier qualification (A-List or A-List Preferred) and you routinely charge large amounts to your credit cards, it may be worthwhile to use your Southwest Premier card for everyday spending.  The return, in terms of tier qualifying points, isn’t exactly lucrative though at only 1,500 tier qualifying points per $10,000 spent.

If you’re not seeking the CP or tier qualification, the Southwest card essentially becomes a card that gets you 1.4% back on purchases (based on my valuation as of writing).  That of course is heavily predicated on the Rapid Rewards points being redeemed for Southwest flights.  If you’re going to redeem for gift cards, your return will be less.

Other cards are offering returns of 2% on all everyday spending and even 5% on bonus categories.  Additionally, there are other cards which earn points which can be transferred to Southwest and some of those cards have the aforementioned bonus categories.  For example, if you have a Chase Freedom and either a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink card, you can rack up many more points using those cards for purchases and then transferring the acquired Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest.

Regardless of how you rack up Rapid Rewards points, the value of them essentially doubles if you have the Companion Pass and your companion is going to travel with you consistently.  In that case, each Rapid Rewards point is worth about 2.8 cents in my estimation.

Do These Cards Have Chips?

Yes, these cards now come with a chip embedded.

What Should I Do if I Have a Question You Didn’t Answer?

Simple – leave it in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to address it!


You can apply for the cards with these links:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus


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Pinterest Graphic Southwest Plus and Premier Questions and Answers

 

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4 thoughts on “Answers to All Your Southwest Plus & Premier Card Questions, Including Which You Should Get!

  1. I have the sw premier for several years. Have had companion pass for last 2 years. How can I get the 50k bonus on my existing card(got original bonus 3 years ago)?

    Do I need to cancel current card and then reapply? Is there a way to simply request the bonus for existing cardholders who have not received bonus in previous 2 years?

    1. Mark, you can cancel your Premier card and apply for it again to get the signup bonus again (given that you last received the bonus for the Premier card over 24 months ago). Note that the 5/24 rule does apply. If you keep your current card open, Chase will not simply give you another 50k points if you request it. With some cards you can get a retention bonus by indicating you’re about to cancel the card but that is usually a much smaller number of points (or waiving of an annual fee). However, there have not been many reports of retention bonuses being offered for Southwest cards.

      Another option is to apply for the Plus card as it is also offered with a 50k point bonus at the moment (and slightly lower annual fee).

    1. Hi Joe!

      You could actually get them on the same day. Many people have done so. I personally would wait a few days. Besides the 5/24 rule, the other relevant Chase rule is the 2/30 rule, which means that most people can get approved for a maximum of 2 Chase cards in a 30 day period. There are exceptions to that rule but it applies in most situations.

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