Southwest is a New Transfer Partner for the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program

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The Chase Ultimate Rewards program seems to be getting better and better by the minute! While American Express Membership Rewards has been diminishing their program, Chase Ultimate Rewards has done the complete opposite and might be one of the more lucrative travel programs out there.

To start off with a bang in 2012, they have added Southwest as a transfer partner. Similar to all the other transfer partners, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Since Southwest has a very straightforward value on their points, this means that each Ultimate Reward points is equivalent to $0.0167 if transferred to Southwest. While this is probably not the most strategic partner to transfer your points to, it is still a decent value and is definitely a great option for those who are loyal to Southwest. The best transfer option in my opinion is Hyatt or Continental (if used properly).

If you have already jumped on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus credit card bonus offer, this will allow you to transfer those points to Southwest.

Which card offer is better?

The The Southwest credit card or one of the Chase Ultimate Reward earning cards? This really depends on the person, so lets take a look at some pro’s/con’s:

Southwest credit card (detailed prior blog post):

  • Annual 3,000 bonus points, which is equivalent to $50 in free travel on a “Wanna Getaway” fare (pro)
  • Bonus points from new credit card sign up count towards a Southwest companion pass (pro)
  • Points from credit card spend count towards a Southwest companion pass (pro)
  • Earn double points when using your Southwest credit card to purchase Southwest flights (pro) – however, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you double points on all travel purchases
  • Receive bonus points after your first purchase on the card, no minimum spend needed like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (pro)
  • Yearly annual fee is NOT waived the first year (con)
  • Can only use your points on Southwest travel – at least for the best value (con)
  • Foreign transaction fees at 3% (con)

Chase Sapphire Preferred card (detailed prior blog post):

  • Points can be transferred to many partners and give you more flexibility depending on your travel needs – United, British Airways, Korean Airways, Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott, and Amtrak (pro)
  • Ultimate Rewards shopping portal has had some amazing bonus offers recently (pro)
  • Double points on all travel related purchases (pro)
  • No foreign transaction fees (pro)
  • Annual fee is waived the first year (pro), but is then slightly higher than the Southwest credit card thereafter (con)
  • Transferred points do not count towards a Southwest companion pass (con)

In my opinion, the main reason the Southwest credit card is worth getting over the Chase Sapphire preferred is if you are able to get the companion pass. Other than that, the Chase Sapphire Preferred seems to be the winner if looking for Southwest free flights. Chase has also started to crack down a bit and I’d recommend only applying for one personal card and one business card within a 90 day period. If you do apply for both (or any two Chase cards for that matter), assume that one will be declined, but calling the reconsideration line and switching some credit limit around will possibly get you approved.

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links where I receive commission for some of the credit cards if you sign up and get approved. I will only promote the best offers and the cards that I fully believe have the best value. Thanks for supporting the blog!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. In addition to the Companion Pass, the fact that the SW card does not require a hefty minimum spending requirement might be another good reason for some people to consider that one over the Sapphire Preferred. It is a touch decision for sure (but you can’t really make a bad choice!).

  2. Do you recommend applying for both the SWA personal and business at once on the same day or waiting till the next month for the other if going for the Companion Pass? Thank you

    • @Maury – It seems like with SWA there hasn’t been a set method that is working for everyone. I applied for both on the same day and was rejected for the 2nd application. Called SWA and they told me I would not get the points but put the application through. I still got the points 🙂

  3. I think it’s also worth noting that the SW card offers an annual 3000 point bonus. I have the Southwest card and I’m going to get the Sapphire later.

    Also, using the Southwest card for hotels (Radisson & non-chain hotels) only got me 1 point per dollar. Maybe you have to book through Southwest website to get those 2 points per dollar.

    I don’t think it makes sense to keep the SW card as UR points can now be transferred to rapid rewards. Will definitely be using my southwest card to trade for a new card with good signup.

    • @Saurabh – Yup! That equals another $50 per year in free travel on a “Wanna Getaway” fare. I’ve updated the post accordingly.

      Still though, you are correct, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card still outweighs the Southwest card (unless you are primarily getting it for the companion pass). I’ve also heard that the 50K Chase Sapphire Preferred card bonus is expiring in 60 days, so do not delay too long.

  4. I think it’s also worth noting that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives 2 points per $ spent on travel (airlines, rental car, hotels, etc), so effectively, it offers the same bonus as the Southwest card would, when booking flights on Southwest (and on all other airlines).

  5. @dealswelike I applied using your link. Waiting for the “too many accounts” letter and then calling CSR to move lines and get this card. I have about $2500 of flight tickets to buy so meeting the minimum spend should be a breeze.

    I made the mistake of activating the Southwest card in November. I should have activated on Jan 1st to get my best shot at companion pass.

    • @Saurabh – Thanks for using my link, much appreciated! The Southwest link, however, is not mine, but is the best one out there!

      With the Southwest card, when did you make your first purchase? In 2011 as well?

  6. I wish you wrote this post in Nov 2011. That’s when I made the purchase on the Southwest card.

    Seems like the perfect time to complete spend on Sapphire would have been Nov or Dec since you would get the annual bonus in Jan/Feb. Bad timing again 🙁

  7. Wow! I think I read that post but didn’t pay attention. Lesson learned. There are so many tricks in this game. But this is only the beggining. I anticipate having 20 credit cards in a few years 🙂

    Thanks for writing the blog again!

  8. While I think it’s neat that the Sapphire Preferred card is adding more partners, I’m curious to hear why you think transferring points to Continental is better than shifting them to Korean Airlines. I’ve been loyal to United for decades, but after learning that Korean Air’s frequent flyer program lets you change or even cancel award tickets for no fee has me rethinking my allegiances… and rethinking what is the best value for Sapphire Preferred point transfers. Would love your thoughts on this!

    P.S. — I think your blog rocks, but it’d be even better if you’d timestamp the comments 😉

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