Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa Increases Signing Bonus
Southwest Airlines and its credit card partner Chase announced yesterday an increased bonus for new cardholders. Those acquiring a Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa Signature or Visa Business Card will receive 8 Rapid Rewards credits after the first use of the card, and can earn up to an additional 8 credits if they transfer a balance to the Southwest card within 90 days. (One credit is awarded for every $1200 in transferred balances, up to a maximum transfer of $9600.) Taken together, the maximum bonus of 16 credits would immediately qualify cardholders for a free Southwest flight. Previously the new cardholder bonuses were 4 credits after first card purchase and up to 5 credits for transferring a balance.
In addition, Southwest announced other enhancements as it celebrates the 20-year anniversary of its Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program, including two credits awarded annually when the credit card is renewed and double Reward Dollars on certain Southwest and preferred partner purchases.
While on its face Southwest has one of the more generous frequent flyer programs, the program details make its attractiveness harder to assess. For every dollar spent on the Rapid Rewards Visa, you receive a Reward Dollar (or two Reward Dollars in cases such as those mentioned above). Each 1200 Reward Dollars equals one credit, and 16 credits equals a free flight. Comparing this to other frequent flyer programs, you would find that it takes 19,200 Reward Dollars for a free flight, which compares to the 25,000 points it generally takes to get a free flight elsewhere. However, there’s one catch—to get a free Southwest flight, the 16 credits must be earned within a two-year period. Other programs allow points to accrue for a longer period of time in order to earn free flights.
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