By Travis Cormier
Hey Travel Junkies,
Many of you have opened one or two of the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards offered to secure the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018 and 2019.
The Companion Pass is one of the best values in travel because it gives you a buy one get one free Southwest ticket for up to nearly two years! Once you get the sign-up bonus, though, does it makes sense to keep putting spend on these cards?
The simple answer is “no”.
There’s plenty of reasons why putting your daily spend on these cards is not the best idea but let’s take a look at some of the most compelling reasons why you should move onto greener, more lucrative pastures.
Missing Out On Other Sign-Up Bonuses
The biggest reason you need to stop spending on your Southwest credit cards is because you’re missing out on other bonuses. With the Southwest credit cards you only receive 1X point per dollar spent on your typical daily spending.
If you’re using using your spending to hit minimum spends and earn other sign-up bonuses, you could be getting much more than 1X point per dollar. Bonuses on cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are typically 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you reach the required minimum spend. By using your spend to earn sign-up bonuses, you’re going to be reaping the rewards much faster.
Limited Bonus Categories For Daily Spend
Many credit cards offer bonus categories for daily spend. The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants and travel while the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 2X points per dollar in the same categories. The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards only offer 2X points per dollar on Southwest flights and a few hotel and rental car partners.
It simply doesn’t makes sense to purchase even Southwest tickets using your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. You can earn a flexible currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards points at the same rate when using a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This gives you the option to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account or to another partner such as Hyatt or United Airlines that might be more useful to you for a particular trip.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Lack Flexibility
Southwest Rapid Rewards points lack the flexibility that other award programs have. Southwest Airlines isn’t part of a global airline alliance and it doesn’t have any airline partners. If Southwest doesn’t travel to your destination, you are out of luck.
Additionally, Southwest has a revenue-based award program which means that more expensive cash ticket will require more Rapid Rewards points. If you use a program such as United MileagePlus, which has a region-based award chart, the total miles required to book an award ticket will not be attached to the cash cost of the ticket. Instead, it will be determined by your origin and destination—this includes any positioning flights that might be required.
While you can use Rapid Rewards for a few other uses, such as rental cars, the redemption rate is only 1 cent per point. Rapid Rewards have a fixed value of approximately 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for flights, so using them for rental cars minimizes their potential value.
If you instead use a card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for your daily spend, you get a tremendous amount of flexibility. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to every major airline alliance plus a few hotels (though, Hyatt is generally the only one worth it). With this flexibility you can travel to every corner of the globe.
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards vs Other Airline Credit Cards
If you’re going to be putting spend on an airline credit card you should compare the benefits of airline credit cards to see if you are getting any extra value from your daily spend. Let’s compare various benefits you receive from airline credit cards.
|Elite Status Progress||Priority Boarding|
Rapid Rewards Credit Cards Offer Fewer Benefits Than Other Airline Credit Cards
Through daily spend on other airline credit cards you can earn progress towards elite status. Elite status helps you earn free upgrades, more miles on paid flights, and other perks from the airlines. Beyond the Companion Pass, Southwest doesn’t have anything similar to status that can be earned from daily spend on credit cards.
Priority boarding is a big deal on Southwest since it allows you better seat choices. This is another benefit offered among the other major airline credit cards that isn’t offered by any of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, and it is definitely a much bigger deal on Southwest.
Other major airline credit cards also offer access on select versions of their co-branded credit cards. Since Southwest doesn’t have any lounges, it can’t offer this highly valuable benefit. In fairness, lounge access is only available on airline credit cards with higher annual fees.
What Credit Card Should You Be Using for Daily Spend?
Now that we’ve discussed why you shouldn’t use your Southwest credit card for daily spending, you are probably asking yourself what credit card you should be using.
I have not so subtly hinted to this answer a few times so far, so it should be no surprise that those who fly with Southwest Airlines should consider using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card instead. When comparing it with the Chase Southwest credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has most that is missing and more, while having the same low $95 annual fee.
By opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card your spend will be contributing to a new sign-up bonus. Beyond the bonus, though, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card works better as a daily spend card because it earns two points per dollar on dining.
Plus there are some additional benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card that you don’t get with your Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card such as trip delay insurance and trip interruption insurance.
Let’s be honest, travel doesn’t always go as planned. Flights get delayed because of weather and mechanical issues. If you have trip delay insurance you can be covered for expenses you have that arise from the delay. This includes food, lodging, and other reasonable expenses.
Trip interruption insurance covers you when things go wrong that stop your trip from continuing, or even starting. Illness, bad weather, jury duty, and yes even if the plane you were waiting on was hijacked, you are covered.
These two benefits are often sold when booking travel for over $100 for more expensive trips. When you book with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, these are included at no additional charge. If you are still using a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, you won’t have these protections.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you’ll also have return protection. If you attempt to return an item and the store won’t accept the return, you may be eligible for up to $500 reimbursement per item.
The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards can help you get one of the best deals in travel—the Southwest Companion Pass. However, once you have earned the Companion Pass, you should move on to another credit card or two.
Rather than earn 1X Rapid Rewards point per dollar, you could be earning more Ultimate Rewards points that can still be transferred to your Rapid Rewards account if you need a Southwest flight. On top of that, there are more sign-up bonuses to earn and more benefits—think, airport lounge access—to be had from other credit cards.
With these other options out there, the Southwest Credit Cards just don’t make sense as your go-to credit card. There is very little flexibility in how you use your points, there are no bonus categories for daily spend, and there are fewer consumer protections compared to credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
A Chase Southwest credit card might be your first love and for good reason, but it isn’t the best card for you long-term. If you’re looking to take the next step on your miles and points journey, take a look at our monthly top cards list to see what card might be right for you.