One of the best ways to travel on a tight timeline is a non-stop flight to your destination, but budget-minded travelers often find themselves weighing what is more important: saving money (by driving) or hours of time (by flying). Our question is….why not save both? We are planning a trip for later this year, and to maximize the amount of time we can spend on the trip we are going to fly via Southwest. Our two round-trip tickets will cost us approximately $79….total.
Every so often, Southwest Airlines (via Chase) offers a huge amount of free Rapid Rewards® points when you sign up for a Chase Rapid Rewards credit card. I have seen sign-up bonuses up to 60,000 points which, depending on your travel destination and date of travel, can easily cover two round-trip tickets. Each card requires you to spend a certain amount of money (on the card) within the first three months to qualify for the bonus, but that can be taken care of easily by using it for all of your normal purchases and using some common “manufactured spending” strategies. Here are some links to the available cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Each card, at the time of this post, offers the same amount of Rapid Rewards® points for signing up, but there are some differences between the cards.
- The regular Rapid Rewards® Plus card (#1) has a $69 annual fee which you will be charged every year on the date which you opened the card, at which time you will also receive 3,000 bonus points.
- The Rapid Rewards® Premier card (#2) has a $99 annual fee but doubles the anniversary points for a total of 6,000 bonus points. The Rapid Rewards® Premier Business card (#3) is the same as #2 but for businesses (even “businesses” that use your social security number as a sole proprietor..hint hint).
Considering that you earn 1 point for every dollar spent, the anniversary points save you nearly $3,000 or $6,000 worth of spending depending on which card you get. Aside from sign-up bonuses and annual fees, each card earns you 2 points for every dollar you spend on Southwest Airlines purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Which one should I get?
The answer to this depends on how you plan on using the card. If you’re using the “credit card churning” approach, and plan to close the card after you receive the bonus points, definitely go with the standard Rapid Rewards® Plus card (#1). You will get the same amount of points as the more expensive cards but save $30. If you plan on keeping the card open for a year or longer, get the Rapid Rewards® Premier card because you will get double the anniversary points for only $30 more. The same goes for the Rapid Rewards® Premier Business card. Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of money you’re required to spend to qualify for the points bonus.
Here are our recommendations for the “typical” user:
- Rapid Rewards® Plus – Occasional traveler, credit card churner
- Rapid Rewards® Premier – Regular traveler, travelers with larger budgets
- Rapid Rewards® Premier Business – Business owner, regular traveler, travelers with larger budgets