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Review of Southwest's Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

(Update: This offer is no longer available. Updated May 8, 2013.) 

Chase pulled the plug last month on its popular 50,000 bonus point Southwest Premier card offer. However, As of Monday August 8th 2011, its replacement hit the market—the 25,000 point Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. This is a pretty standard offer from Southwest, so I wouldn't say it's anything to get too excited about. If you don't need the card right away so you can redeem the 25,000 points, you may want to try waiting for a better promotion to hit the market in the coming months. It could very well happen towards the end of the year or in early 2012.

Other than cutting the bonus points in half to 25,000 (huge bummer!), here are some of the other important changes you should know about if you're a Southwest Airlines lover and interested in this card:

  1. Annual fee is now $69 instead of $99.
  2. Anniversary bonus is now 3,000 points (worth $50 in Wanna Get Away Fares) instead of 6,000 points (worth $100 in Wanna Get Away Fares). The previous bonus used to cover the annual fee, but now it's worth $19 less than the annual fee.
  3. You can earn 1 point for every $1 in balance transfers when you initiate your transfer within 90 days.  The maximum you can earn is 10,000 points, but remember there's no 0% interest promotion on balance transfers, so make sure you do the math to make sure the extra points are worth it.  If you're in a position to transfer the balance and then pay it off in full once you receive the bonus points, that's ideal.

The Bottom Line The 25,000 point Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card is a good option if you plan to fly Southwest often and you really need to take advantage of the bonus points right away. Otherwise, I would wait for Southwest to bump up its sign-up bonus again. Competition among airline rewards credit cards is fierce right now and we'll most likely see a more attractive offer from Southwest in the near future. Finally, I hear travelers express concern all the time about flying Southwest because they can't reserve their actual seat in advance. I must admit that I used to be bugged by Southwest's seating policy too, but the fact is I hate paying for checked bags EVEN more. I especially hate paying for checked bags now that I have an infant and tend to carry enormous amounts of extra crap when traveling.  So I'll take a no-advanced seating policy any day over paying $50 or more for 2 checked bags on short flights around the country. And with Southwest you'll not only get two free checked bags, but you may even get some free peanuts thrown at you too!

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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