I’m not a huge fan of Southwest Airlines, regular readers certainly know that. There’s nothing wrong with the airline, of course. It’s just that I’m a pretty regular frequent flyer, I love my elite status, so I kind of like my first class upgrades. They don’t have those on Southwest.
And my goal for frequent flyer mikes is aspirational travel, to be able to access the kinds of things that I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Not to take a weekend trip to Florida. I’d rather pay for those tickets. So the Southwest Rapid Rewards program isn’t really my bag.
Still, Southwest offers real value to a significant portion of the traveling community. Which is why I’m giving mention to the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card which has a 50,000 point signup bonus. That’s worth up to $835 in travel on the airline. And certainly meets my criteria for being ‘worth’ a credit card signup.
I’m not signing up myself, but it’s valuable for many. And it’s especially valuable if you decide to also get the Southwest business Visa with its 50,000 point signup bonus as well. Why? Not just because of the $1670 in total travel that could get you. But because it also gets you most of the way to a companion pass.
When you earn 110,000 points in a year in the Southwest program you can earn a pass that allows someone to travel with you for free whenever you travel — whether you are traveling on paid tickets or on awards. Credit card signup bonus points have counted towards this amount (although that could always change in 2013; the program’s terms and conditions say that partner bonuses don’t count as qualifying points but have in the past and appear to count under the rules for ‘A’ list status — unclear to me that Southwest has the capacity to distinguish this).
In fact, if you get the cards now and wait until the beginning of January to meet your minimum spend requirements for the bonus, those points will post in 2013. And when you earn a companion pass in January 2013, it’s yours for the rest of 2013 — and 2014.
That also means your signup bonuses could effectively be doubled, worth $3340 for the two cards.
(Of course you would still need 10,000 points aside from signup bonuses to reach 110,000 earned — some of those points would be earned from your credit card spending, the rest could be transferred in from a hotel program — but points directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards don’t count though you could transfer first from,say, Chase to Hyatt to Southwest and that should do the trick.)
Another thing to consider is Southwest’s rumored expansion to Hawaii. (It seems the recently announced Southwest service to San Juan could be a precursor to that.)
I always try to disclose how my advice pairs with what I’m doing myself (or not doing), and this isn’t one I’m pursuing but it’s certainly one that could add tremendous value for a lot of people. The Southwest personal card offers referral credit to me if you use my link to sign up. The business card offer does not.