southwest miles credit card

Want an airline miles credit card that rewards you for every dollar spent? Numerous credit cards are designed with travelers in mind, but not all airlines credit cards are created equal. That's why we've carefully evaluated several of the leading cards to bring you the three with the best cardholder benefits. Not only do these cards have nice rewards with low fees, but some can be used to book travel accommodations in addition to airfare. If you're someone who enjoys travel, or if you regularly travel for professional reasons, then now is a great time to snag one of these top-rated cards. Read on to learn more about the top three airline miles credit cards.

The standard reward rate from this card is 2 points for each dollar spent on dining and travel. All other expenses generate one point per dollar.

Users of this card get two mileage points per purchase, and these points can be used for all kinds of travel expenses from airlines, travel sites and other travel merchants. This card offers more flexibility than most other airline mileage reward credit cards.

Only the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is limited in how it can be used. The other credit cards on our list can be used with various airlines, giving cardholders greater flexibility when making travel plans.

The Southwest card gives two points per $1 spent on purchases through Southwest. Otherwise, it's one point per dollar. There's also a 6,000-point anniversary bonus that almost completely pays for the card's annual fee.

People who use the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can get additional miles from their point totals by booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel tool.

Approval times for airlines credit cards depend on several factors including your income and your credit score. Most people learn whether they're approved or declined within two weeks.

The top three airline mileage rewards cards on our list are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card rewards card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

The Chase card offers 40,000 bonus points for new cardholders who spend $4,000 within three months of starting their accounts. Also, the Southwest card offers 25,000 bonus points for cardholders who spend $1,000 in the first three months.

Southwest Airlines credit card review

This offer is temporarily unavailable on CreditCardForum. The following information is for reference only.

The Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier and Plus Credit Cards have long been a popular choice for frequent fliers, but does the offer of 60,000 miles come with any strings attached?

The answer is yes, that string involves a fairly reasonable initial spending requirement:

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

That’s not a significant burden if you use your card as your primary card for a few months instead of spreading your charges around on other cards or using cash. Southwest Airlines has built their reputation on customer service and providing exceptional value to everyday people by acting different from the other airlines – so it’s to be expected that they exceed expectations when it comes to their frequent flier credit cards.

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa card is issued by Chase bank.

As with most credit cards that offer airline-specific frequent flyer miles or points, there is an annual fee. The Rapid Rewards Premier fee is $99, which is in line with other airline cards. However, what makes the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card different is that it provides recurring points bonus every year: 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.

How do the rewards work?

You’ll earn the following on this card:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Southwest’s rental-car and hotel partners include Avis, Alamo, Budget, Hertz, Starwood, Best Western, Marriott and more. So you have plenty of ways to earn 2 points per dollar without flying.

But what’s most impressive about the Southwest Airline credit card points is their value…

  • Many other credit cards: 6,000 points = $60.00 airfare credit
  • Southwest Airlines card: 6,000 points = about $83 for “Wanna Get Away” airfare

Please note that the govt fees (which are as low as $5) are not included with the award flights, so you will have to pay those out of pocket.

Southwest reward fares are tied to the cash cost of the ticket, so less-expensive fares will cost you fewer points than pricier ones. That may work better for you than the system employed by other airlines, which generally impose a flat 25,000-point redemption minimum for round-trip fares.

Southwest miles credit cardNo change fees?

On top of the fare difference, most airlines charge up to a $150 fee just to changing your flight! SWA is the only major carrier that doesn’t charge a fee to change your ticket. All you pay is the fair difference (if applicable).

Southwest miles credit cardBoth your first AND second checked bags are free because Southwest doesn’t charge for the first two checked bags. This benefit doesn’t come from the card, rather from flying Southwest.

No Foreign Transaction Fees?

This is a great perk and should be a requirement of all travel-related credit cards. If you’ve ever gone overseas without it you quickly find out how painful foreign transaction fees are when you get back home and the bill arrives.

Southwest miles credit card

Get to A-List status faster?

If you’re like a lot of travelers and show up for your flights at the last minute, then you often find yourself in the dreaded “C” boarding group (i.e. a middle seat in the back of the plane). Priority check-in and security lane access along with priority boarding are sweet perks, indeed. This card can help you get there faster because you earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases (up to $100,000 in purchases annually). That means you can earn up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually through your card. If you make it to A-List, you get these coveted benefits:

Southwest miles credit card

Remember the above benefits are NOT from the credit card. They are provided by Southwest Airlines with your A-List status once you qualify.

Visa Signature benefits?

This tier of credit card offers the following benefits for free:

Purchase protection – Have you ever bought an item, only to have something horrible happen to it days or weeks later? Eligible purchases made on your Southwest Airlines Visa Signature card are covered up to 90 days from date of purchase against theft, vandalism, fire damage, accidentally discharged water or certain weather conditions. At their discretion they will pay to repair, replace, or reimburse you – up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder.

Concierge – Enjoy free Visa Signature phone concierge service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lost luggage reimbursement – When you use your Signature-version credit card to pay for the entire cost of an eligible common carrier ticket (i.e. airline ticket) there is coverage for your carry-on bags and checked luggage if they’re lost or stolen, up to $3,000 per trip.

Auto rental collision damage waiver – This benefit covers eligible rentals against collision damage and theft.

Travel accident insurance – With a covered Visa Signature card, receive travel accident insurance when you pay for tickets (eligible common carrier tickets) in full using the card. This coverage applies to accidental death and dismemberment with up to $250,000 in coverage for eligible incidents.

Check and confirm with the Chase Southwest credit card customer service for details, exclusions, and limitations. Benefits are subject to change without notice.

This card has a slightly lower annual fee ($69). For the most part, its rewards and benefits reflect those of the Premier version, with the following differences:

  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • Visa Signature or Classic benefits: This card is offered at the Signature or lower Classic level (with slightly less-robust benefits). Which version you get will be determined by your credit report and the information you provide in your application.

With compelling rewards, enticing benefits and lucrative sign-up offer, these credit cards are a solid choice for the co-branded airline reward category. The current 60,000 point sign-up bonus gives you a good start in the Rapid Rewards program.

What Is the Best Airline Miles Credit Card?

If you frequently travel via airplane, an airline miles credit card may be worth considering to help offset costs. However, you should look beyond the products offered by your preferred airline to find the best options, as there are several from which to choose.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

This card offers 25,000 in bonus points if you incur expenses of $1,000 or more within the first three months of being a cardholder. Once the introductory period has lapsed, you can automatically accrue 6,000 bonus points annually without spending a dime, and two points for every $1 spent on qualifying Southwest airlines or Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partners. This is an added perk that most airline credit cards do not offer, notes Nerd Wallet. Each additional $1 spent accrues one point.

There are no blackout dates for redemption and points never expire. If you do not wish to redeem your points for airfare, other travel options, merchandise, and gift cards are available.

To apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card, complete the online application.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 40,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 within the first three months. You can also accrue 5,000 points by adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase of any amount during the introductory period.

Once the introductory period has lapsed, account holders earn two points for each dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, and one point on all other purchases. When it is time to redeem points for travel, you automatically save 20 percent off the advertised price and there are no blackout dates.

Furthermore, this card is definitely in a league of its own, as points can be transferred to select frequent flier programs, including British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Amtrak Guest Rewards®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Marriott Rewards®, IHG® Rewards Club, and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®. The ability to convert points is a unique option that makes the card a valuable option for travel enthusiasts, notes CreditCardForum.

Visit Chase's website to complete the online application.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard

If you frequently fly aboard the nation's largest airline, this card may be right for you. For starters, you only have to spend $3,000 in the first three months as an account holder to accrue 50,000 bonus miles.

Furthermore, you can earn two miles for each $1 spent on American Airlines and US Airways purchases, and 10 percent back on redeemed miles annually (limited to 10,000). There are no caps on earning limits.

Cardholders enjoy a host of benefits, including:

  • Free luggage for account holders and four travel companions
  • Priority boarding
  • 25 percent off flight tickets and in-flight purchases

To apply for the Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, visit American Airlines' website to access the online application.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

You can earn a $400 travel statement, which is equivalent to 40,000 bonus miles, simply by making $3,000 in purchases within 90 days of becoming an account holder. Plus, cardholders earn two miles for every dollar spent and 10 percent back on miles redeemed for statement credits, with an unlimited earning potential. Furthermore, miles accrued never expire, so you can save them for that dream vacation. Furthermore, this card gives you an added peace of mind with the chip and pin technology for added security, notes The Points Guy.

To apply for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard, complete the online application.

The British Airways Visa Signature Card has one of the most impressive introductory offers on the market. By spending a minimum of $2,000 in the first three months, you automatically accrue 50,000 bonus avios (points). All purchases made after the introductory period earn one avio for every dollar spent, except for qualifying airline purchases, which earn three avios. If you manage to spend $30,000 in a calendar year, you will receive a Travel Together ticket, good for you and a company in any class and valid for up to two years. As The Simple Dollar puts it, "This is ideal if you desire to take the trip of a lifetime."

This card is also embedded with a smart chip for added security and to facilitate international purchases if retailers that use this technology.

Visit Chase's website to complete the online application.

Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express

Frequent fliers of Delta Airlines can also benefit greatly from this card, as it offers 30,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 or more in the first three months. Even if you don't meet the spending threshold, simply making a purchase of any amount through Delta in the first three months will earn you a $50 statement credit. This card also boasts an unlimited earning potential, with two miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and one mile per dollar on all other transactions.

As a cardholder, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Priority boarding
  • One free checked bag
  • Discounted access to the Delta Sky Club lounge at select airports

To apply for the Gold Delta SkyMiles from American Express, complete the online application.

This comprehensive table is a way for you to evaluate how each of these airline credit cards stack up against the others.

The 10 Best Airline Miles Credit Cards

Southwest miles credit cardThere are plenty of credit cards out there offering rewards programs to their loyal customers, primarily in the form of cash back or rewards points. If you are a frequent traveler, then the type of program you may prefer instead would be one that gives you airline miles for every dollar you spend on the card. These cards not only give you a certain number of miles or points that you can apply toward booking future travel reservations, but they also afford additional perks and privileges that are exclusive to cardholders.

However, like all things, some are better than others. With airline miles cards, you want to make sure that you have the ability to earn as many miles as possible on each purchase and the freedom to redeem your earnings whenever you wish.

Then there are the factors by which every credit card should be judged, such as interest rates, fees, and how easy it will be to get approved based on your credit score. Some of these cards cater strictly to those consumers who have the best credit histories while others might be more permissive of those who have less than excellent scores.

We’ve done some of the work for you in identifying the ten best airline miles cards that are currently available at the moment. Check out the cards we like the most and maybe one of them will be the right one for you.

Southwest miles credit card1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

There’s no annual fee for the first year, but the Sapphire Preferred card does come with a $95 fee every year after that. You also don’t get any type of 0% introductory APR, either.

That may not be a problem for some consumers since the card has a very attractive rewards program and a pretty good signing bonus offer as well. Chase will give you 50,000 points upon spending $4,000 within 90 days of owning the card. All purchases earn you one point for every dollar and 2X points on all travel and dining purchases. As your points accrue, you can use them for booking reservations for future trips both here and abroad. Though it lacks an introductory APR, the Chase Sapphire Preferred does have a reasonable rate that is variable.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 each year after that.

Perks: Chase offers the Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool to help you book reservations with your points. Should you lack the required amount for a full purchase with your points, the tool allows you to apply cash to that purchase as well. You can also get a discount on many travel purchases made through the Booking Tool, up to 20%.

Drawbacks: You need excellent credit to get this card.

Southwest miles credit card2. Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

This MasterCard from Barclaycard gives you 50,000 miles right off the bat when you make a minimum of $3,000 worth of purchases within the first three months of receiving your card. When you redeem your miles you will receive credit towards travel purchases at a rate of 10,000 per $100 that may be applied towards a portion or in full on any travel purchase that is made within the previous four months. Plus, you can earn 2X miles on every purchase. So that’s two miles for every dollar spent on your MasterCard. Best of all, your miles will never expire as long as the credit card is active. You may use those miles whenever you wish.

APR: 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24% Variable, based on your credit. There is a 0% introductory APR, but it’s only good towards balance transfers for up to 12 months and only if those transfers are made within the initial 45 days of opening the account.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $89 each year after that.

Perks: The card has all of the requisite consumer protections so you’re not responsible for fraudulent purchases and it will even reimburse you for any nonrefundable cancellation or change fees should a trip you purchased with the card be interrupted or canceled. It also comes with MasterCard World Elite concierge and luxury travel benefits giving you complimentary round the clock travel and concierge assistance. You can also get your FICO scores for free.

Drawbacks: The annual fee may not be worth it if you’re not a frequent traveler.

Southwest miles credit card3. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Anyone who flies Southwest consistently should consider going with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Every dollar you spend earns you one point which you can apply to booking a flight to any Southwest destination, anytime. That’s because your points will never expire and, more importantly, you won’t have to dance around any blackout dates. You fly when you want to fly, not when Southwest tells you it’s okay. Use the card at merchants who are Rapid Rewards partners and you can earn 2X points as well. They will even give you 6,000 points upon every anniversary during your time as a cardholder.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $99 annual fee. No foreign transaction fees.

Perks: Like many of the cards on this list, you can earn an initial bonus for your first three months of spend. However, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card has one of the better offers out there, giving you 40,000 points on just $1,000 worth of purchases in the first 90 days.

Drawbacks: Your credit score needs to be 720 or higher to take advantage of all the things this card delivers.

Southwest miles credit card4. Capital One Venture Rewards Card

The Venture Rewards card from Capital One has all of the best attributes you would expect from an airline miles card. You get two miles for every dollar you spend on every purchase, not just those from a participating merchant. It also has the obligatory signing bonus of 40,000 miles for $3,000 on purchases made in the first three months. That’s equal to a $400 “thank you” just for signing up. However, what really makes the card attractive is the annual fee. Not only is it waived for the first year but it’s only $59 every year after that, which is the lowest annual fee on our list.

APR: 13.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $59 each year after that.

Perks: There are no blackout dates when you try to redeem your points and they can be applied to making reservations on any airline or any hotel. You’re not restricted in that regard, either. Your miles never expire so they can be used anytime you wish. There are no foreign transaction fees on this card, which is good if you happen to fly internationally on a routine basis. You may even be approved with a credit score of 690, which is lower than most of the cards we’ve found.

Drawbacks: There isn’t much about this card to dislike. It’s pretty great all around.

Southwest miles credit card5. Platinum Delta Skymiles Card

This is a card issued by American Express, so it may not come as much of a surprise to see that it has a very high annual fee and comes with super exclusive perks that only frequent travelers of Delta Airlines will be able to enjoy. Your spend earns you miles that are applicable towards travel on the carrier along with 15 other partners. Those purchases can be made anywhere and on anything. You earn one mile for every dollar, but two miles on purchases with Delta and its partners. The card also offers a signing bonus of 10,000 miles after making just one purchase in the first three months. There are other perks as well, including a companion certificate for every year you renew the card, which gets you a free airline ticket for domestic economy travel and reduced price admission to Delta Sky Clubs, just to name a few.

APR: 15.99% to 24.99% Variable, based on your credit and “other factors”, according to their website.

Fees: $195 annual fee

Perks: Payment flexibility that lets you carry a balance or pay in full each month, your first checked bag is free, priority boarding on all Delta flights, anniversary bonuses of 10,000 miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) if you spend $25,000 in one calendar year, and 20% discounts on all in-flight purchases.

Drawbacks: This card has one of the most expensive annual fees on our list…but it’s not the highest.

Southwest miles credit card6. United MileagePlus Club Card

Everything about this credit card from Chase is geared towards luxury. You can tell from the annual fee alone and the level of perks and advantages you can enjoy just by using the card for purchases. For starters you earn 1.5X points for every dollar spent on the MileagePlus card and 2X points for each dollar spent on United Airlines tickets. However, the biggest reason to own the card is for membership in the United Club airport lounge. Owning this card gets you access into all of them in addition to other Star Alliance locations worldwide. That membership will cost you $550 a year, so that $450 annual fee is actually cheaper than paying the full amount and you get all of the other perks of owning the card, too.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $450 annual fee

Perks: Besides entry into the United Club lounges, you also receive travel and purchase protection coverage, your first AND second checked bags are free on all flights (those fees can add up to a few hundred bucks a year alone if you travel often enough), and you get access to exclusive events with Chase Inside Access.

Drawbacks: That $450 fee each year may turn a lot of people off, particularly since the miles you earn are only available for use on United flights.

Southwest miles credit card7. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Who says you can only earn points towards travel by flying the friendly skies? Maybe you’re a frequent traveler who spends more time in hotels than in airplanes. If that’s the case, then we have the card for you. The Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express lets you earn points every time you stay in one of the many properties within the Starwood network. It has a similar sign up offer as the other cards, with 25,000 Starpoints earned after spending $3,000 in three months, and you can earn free nights at more than 1,200 in 100 countries worldwide. There are no blackout dates, either. Best of all, should you need to take air travel in the future you can transfer your points into air miles with more than 24 programs on major carriers.

APR: 15.4% to 19.49% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $0 annual fee for the initial year. $95 each year after that.

Perks: The card also gets you free unlimited Wi-Fi at more than a million Boingo hotspots around the world. Spending at SPG locations yield higher rewards as you get 5X Starpoints when you spend with the company, and 1 Starpoint per dollar on all other purchases. There are no foreign transactions fees

Drawbacks: You may have guessed that the main drawback with this card is you need to be a frequent Starwood customer to get any real value out of this card.

8. British Airways Visa Signature Card

Get ready to earn and spend big Avios with the British Airways Visa Signature card. Yes, they’ve made up their own currency for this credit card. Don’t worry, they’re the same thing as typical points you might earn with any rewards program. You get 50,000 of them if you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months, a pretty standard offer up front. However, getting 3X Avios on British Airways purchases is a nice perk if you happen to fly the airline often. You get 1 Avios for every other dollar spent.

APR: 16.24% – 23.24% Variable, based on your credit.

Fees: $95 annual fee

Perks: If you’re a big spender with this card then you can accrue even more Avios, up to 25,000 of them if you spend a minimum of $15,000 within your first year of ownership. Spend over $30,000 over the course of one year and you get a free ticket, you don’t even need to apply your Avios towards it. If you don’t have enough Avios to put towards an entire ticket, you can use the value you’ve earned to bring the cost of that ticket down and pay off the balance in cash.

Drawbacks: There are two big drawbacks with this card. The Avios expire after a period of inactivity in collecting or using them and they’re only good for use with American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines on domestic flights. If you’re flying international, you have a few more choices of airlines within the One World Alliance network.

Southwest miles credit card9. JetBlue Plus Card

The JetBlue Plus is issued by Barclaycard and comes with distinct advantages that allow you to earn points faster. It falls towards the middle of the spectrum overall with an attractive signing bonus that yields you 30,000 points on just $1,000 of spend in the first three months. Unfortunately, however, the points you earn are only applicable towards travel on JetBlue. The card excels in the exclusivity department as you can earn 6X the rewards on JetBlue purchases while earning 2X the rewards for every dollar spent at restaurants and supermarkets and 1 point for each dollar on every other purchase.

APR: 12.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% Variable, based on your credit. 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for up to 12 months if those transfers are made within 45 days of opening the account.

Fees: $99 annual fee

Perks: Redeeming your points is easy to do with your points as there are no blackout dates to contend with and every seat on any JetBlue flight is eligible for use with points. Your points never expire, either. Perhaps most interesting is that the company offers Family Pooling where all the points in your household may be applied towards a ticket. You can also receive 10% of your points back when you redeem them to use toward your next redemption.

Drawbacks: Not much, this is a great card all around and it’s even better if you’re a loyal JetBlue customer.

Southwest miles credit card10. Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

This is another airline miles card that comes with a hefty annual fee that also doubles as a membership fee into the airline’s network of airport lounges. In this case, the lounge is the Admirals Club and the airline is American Airlines. Their AAdvantage program is one of the most popular frequent flyer mileage programs in the industry and the World Elite MasterCard issued through Citi affords members a wealth of advantages and perks that let you earn a lot of miles up front. The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite card provides a standard reward on purchases with 2X miles for each dollar spent with American and 1 mile for every dollar spent elsewhere. You can earn a hefty 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

Fees: $450 annual fee

Perks: The card comes with Citi’s Price Rewind feature which searches for lower price on any purchases that are registered with the bank. Should they find one then they will reimburse you the difference. Of course, the main reason for the card is the access you get at all Admirals Club locations around the world. Plus, you get other travel perks such as a free checked bag for you and a companion, lost baggage and trip cancellation protections, and travel and emergency assistance.

Drawbacks: Unless you’re a loyal American Airlines customer, this card may not be best suited for your needs, especially with that pricy annual fee.

As is the case with any type of rewards credit card, you want to be sure that you’re getting a good deal when it comes to what you can earn and how you are able to redeem those earnings. We’ve spotlighted a number of cards on this list that come with an annual fee. There is a whole list of credit cards on the market that offer you rewards such as cash back and points that do not require you to pay for the privilege of owning and using that card.

Airlines miles cards are a bit different in that they cater to a certain type of consumer, typically business travelers who would be spending a large amount on travel expenses each year. For these cardholders, hey can not only afford to pay a fee of anywhere from $59 to $450 annually but they will be getting lucrative perks in return based on how much they spend.

What it boils down to is pretty simple: an airline miles card may not be the best option for every consumer who is interested in applying for a rewards credit card. The annual fee along with the types of purchases that can earn you the most rewards could make some people think twice about considering one of the cards on this list. However, if you feel that your expenditures could be best applied towards earning miles, then one of these cards is probably going to be your best bet.

Your credit score is also going to play a critical role in whether or not an airline miles card is the right choice for you. As you can see, most of them will require scores of 690 or above and if you don’t fall within that range then you won’t get approved. There are rewards cards available where lower scores will still you qualify you for approval, but they may not earn you miles or points that can be applied to travel.

In short, if you are only interested in one of these cards just to earn a free trip, then a travel rewards card may not be as advantageous as you think. However, if you are already a frequent traveler with a loyalty to one of the airlines we’ve covered or you seem to spend more time in the air than you do on the ground, then you will definitely want one of these cards in your wallet.

My two newest credit cards: both Southwest Airlines Visas!

Southwest miles credit card

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to travel more, then it’s time to jump into action and earn yourself one of the best travel-hacking values on the market: the Southwest Companion Pass.

I’ve written a lot about the Southwest Companion Pass in the past, but here’s what you need to know:

  • You earn it by accruing 110,000 Southwest miles in one calendar year
  • Once earned, it’s good for the remaining portion of that year and the entire next calendar year. Meaning, passes earned in early 2017 will be good all the way through December 2018.
  • The pass allows you to to get a FREE “companion ticket” for your designated companion ANY TIME the pass holder has a ticket on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if the main pass holder’s ticket was a paid ticket or free miles ticket. If they have a ticket, the companion gets a ticket, so long as there is still space available on the place REGARDLESS of the current price of those tickets.
  • Points earned from Southwest credit card bonuses DO COUNT towards the points threshold.

That last point is the most important one. Because right now, and for a limited time only, both Southwest credit cards, the Premier and the Plus Visas, are currently offering 50,000 mile bonuses for spending $2,000 in the first three months of card ownership. That’s 10,000 – 20,000 points higher EACH than the offers they run at other points in the year.

If you were to get both cards (as we’ve just done) and complete the minimum spending for each bonus, that already puts you at 104,000 miles earned towards the 110,000 needed to get the pass. You can then pretty easily earn those last 6,000 miles either by spending on the credit cards, flying paid flights on Southwest, or taking advantage of items like their shopping portal.

And the best part? If you earn the pass in this way, you still get to keep the 104,000 points you earned along the way. As such, many of those first few flights for the pass holder can be absolutely FREE too, just like their companion’s.

Now, time for my common caveats: if you don’t have good credit, this may not be an option for you, as it’ll be hard for you to get approved for both cards. If you don’t regularly and consistently pay off your full credit balance each billing period, you shouldn’t be messing around with high interest-rate cards like this in the first place. And finally, if you don’t normally spend at least $2,000 in credit cards over three months time, then I generally don’t think it’s a good idea to “manufacture” spending just to earn the credit card bonus.

Finally, in the past year, we’ve seen Chase (the card issuer) institute a new rule about travel bonus-earning credit cards; they’ll only allow you to open 5 maximum in any 24-month period. So if you’ve opened a lot of other cards recently, this may not be an option for you, either.

But, if you’ve got good credit and it’s just a matter of switching your current spending to a new card? Then this is a fantastic deal that lets you essentially travel the country for free for two full years with very minimal effort.