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I am very happy to see the return of the 50,000 point offer with the Southwest credit card. With this offer, new card applicants will essentially receive $833 towards a Southwest “Wanna Get Away” fare (with the cut and dry program 60 points = $1 of travel). The best part of this offer is that there is no minimum spend needed, all you need is one purchase on the card and you will receive the 50K points. There is an annual fee of $69 with the Plus card of $99 with the Premier card (not waived the first year), however, you will get an additional 3,000 points (Plus card) or 6,000 points (Premier card) on your cardmember anniversary. The 3,000 points is equal to $50 for a “Wanna Get Away” fare and the 6,000 points is equal to $100 towards a “Wanna Get Away” fare. The Premier card annual perk ends up paying for the annual fee, while the Plus card comes pretty close. This is a limited time offer and actually has a lower annual fee than the 50,000 point offer from this past summer.
For domestic travel I am a personal fan of Southwest despite the bad rep they get for not having first class nor assigned seating. With Southwest, I am able to change flights with ease and no fees associated, which to me is a big perk. I am also pretty low key, so I would never pay for business/first class or redeem more miles for these cabins. The only time I fly business/first class is when I am upgraded due to my status or for my honeymoon (I folded). Aside for that, I’d prefer to maximize the number of trips I can take utilizing points.
If your goal is to travel internationally, this is not the card for you. There are many other credit cards out there that will help you obtain a free international trip – check out the Travel Deals page.
Earning and Redemption Value:
Unlike the other airline credit cards there is no strategy for redeeming points. It is plain and simple – when redeeming on a “Wanna Get Away Fare” (which is the best value), every dollar spent on the card get you $.0167 back to redeem on Southwest (1.67% back). Also, when using the credit card for Southwest travel and partner travel you will get double points, giving you $.033 value back per dollar on these purchases (3.3% back). While some other credit cards give you a better value when redeeming internationally, for the domestic traveler who is loyal to Southwest, this is a great credit card with no black out dates or limited availability. You can also redeem with their partners, but will not receive as great of a redemption value, more to the tune of 1% (still not a bad way to get $500 of free stuff!)
The companion pass is by far the best benefit of Southwest. I actually currently hold a companion pass, which will expire at the end of this year, and it has allowed many members of my family to fly with me for FREE quite often.
There are two options to earn the companion pass: 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 110,000 Qualifying Points in one calendar year. You can earn Qualifying Points with credit card spend, Rapid Reward partners (i.e, Marriott, Avis, Hyatt), and flying Southwest.
With the companion pass there are again no black out days or seat restrictions – if there is a seat available for purchase, it is available for your companion. You can switch your companion up to three times during the validity of the pass. Companion passes are good for the remainder of the calendar year in which the pass was earned as well as the following calendar year. To change your pass, you can call Southwest Customer Service and ask for your pass to be changed. They will be able to do it for you immediately and send out a new card. I have gone this route every time I needed to change my own companion pass. Just make sure to call customer service and not their 1-800-IFLYSWA number (they will tell you to send in your companion pass and it will take up to 21 days). While this is the rule, it can easily be avoided.
Tier Qualifying Points
When Southwest revamped their Rapid Rewards program, they put in place a two-tier elite status program:
- A-List benefits (35,000 Tier Qualifying Points or 25 qualifying one-way flights): Priority Boarding, 25% Earning Bonus, Standby Priority, Priority Check-In and Security Access, Special Customer Service Line
- A-List Preferred benefits (70,000 Tier Qualifying Points or 50 qualifying one-way flights): All the benefits as regular A-List status plus 100% Earning Bonus and free in-flight WiFi.
Click here to apply for this credit card. And remember, the bonus is for a limited time only. The previous card offer was 25,000 points, so this is really a great offer.