Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: Sapphire’s Massive Bonus Is Too Good to Pass Up For Most People

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If you find yourself on Southwest Airlines flights often, you’ll want to carry a credit card that lets you maximize the rewards for your loyalty.

Getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is the most obvious way to earn those rewards, including anniversary bonuses and Southwest’s Companion Pass — a perk that lets a companion fly for free for almost two years, paying only taxes and fees. 

But there’s a credit card that’s a better choice right now for many Southwest flyers: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, whose 100,000 point sign-up bonus can be used to book free flights on Southwest as well as many other airlines. (Again, you’ll pay only taxes and fees.) That additional flexibility from the Sapphire Preferred, whose points can be transferred to United Airlines, Hyatt and many other travel partners besides Southwest, is another big selling point. 

The two cards have similar annual fees, but important differences. Here’s a closer look at each one.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier at a Glance

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is a co-branded airline card, whereas the Sapphire Preferred is a general travel rewards card. 

They can both help you earn points that you can later redeem for free travel, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier earns points valid only on Southwest while the Chase card gives you a lot more flexibility. 

Pro Tip

If you fly Southwest but also other airlines often, holding both cards may be a good idea — if you can derive enough value from them to offset the annual fees.

These two cards also differ in terms of benefits and bonus points that you’ll earn on certain spending categories. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$95$99
Welcome Offer100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three monthsEarn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months
Rewards2x on dining and travel; 1x on everything else3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
2x on Southwest Airlines and participating hotel and car rental partners; 1x on everything else
Other Benefits• Access to to Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase Travel portal and transfer partners

• 5x points per $1 spent on Lyft rides through March 2022

• Earn up to $60 in statement credits toward Peloton membership through Dec. 2021

• 12 months complimentary DashPass from DoorDash subscription (activate by Dec. 31, 2021)

• Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

• Baggage delay insurance

• Trip cancellation/ interruption insurance

• Trip delay reimbursement

• Travel and emergency assistance services

• Extended warranty protection

• Purchase protection
• You earn 6,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year

• Sign-up bonus points count toward a companion pass

• Lost luggage reimbursement worth up to $3,000 per passenger

• Baggage delay coverage good for up to $100 per day for three days

• Extended warranties on eligible items

• Purchase protection against damage or theft

Welcome Offer Comparison

Both cards offer sign-up bonuses, but the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred comes out on top. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering its highest-ever welcome bonus: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Those 100,000 points are worth around $1,250 when redeemed for travel, according to Chase.

It’s arguably the best deal among all travel rewards credit cards right now.

However, you have to spend twice as much to earn a bonus on the Sapphire Preferred compared to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier. 

The sign-up bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier is 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening the account. But the card also gives you a 6,000-point anniversary bonus every year just for keeping it open. 

The 6,000-point anniversary bonus, worth nearly $80 according to NextAdvisor valuations, cancels out the better part of the card’s $99 annual fee. It’s also enough to get a cheap one-way ticket during one of Southwest’s flash sales. 

But there’s one more important thing to note. Bonus points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card count toward the airline’s Companion Pass, but points transferred from the sign-up bonus on the Sapphire Preferred don’t count, according to Southwest’s website

You’ll need to earn 125,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year to be eligible for Southwest’s Companion Pass. If that’s your primary goal, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier is a better option, and its current sign-up bonus can give you a leg up. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Editor’s Score: (4.5/5)
  • Intro bonus:
    100,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  • Intro bonus:
    40,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $99
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.
Citi Premier® Card

Citi Premier® Card

  • Intro bonus:
    80,000 points
  • Annual fee:
    $95
  • Regular APR:
    15.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site.

Rewards Comparison

With a Southwest Airlines co-branded card, you’ll get the most value if you use it to book flights on Southwest  a few times each year and can offset the annual fee. Co-branded cards from other airlines often let you skip the fees for checked luggage, which alone can make a card worth its annual fee, but that doesn’t apply on Southwest; two checked bags are free for everyone.   

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier earns you 2x points per dollar spent on all Southwest purchases and 1x point per dollar on all other purchases. 

You can redeem Rapid Rewards points for Southwest flights, including options to Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean. While Southwest has an extensive domestic network, it has limited destinations outside the United States. 

Southwest also allows you to redeem your points for gift cards, rental cars, hotels and experiences, but your points won’t be worth as much if you use them that way. 

Beyond the valuable 6,000-point anniversary bonus and points counting for the Companion Pass, don’t expect many added benefits from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier. The card does come with some travel perks, including lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay coverage, extended warranties on eligible items and purchase protection against damage or theft. It also has no foreign transaction fees.

However, the Sapphire Preferred — which we consider the best credit card with an annual fee under $100— offers a lot more flexibility in redeeming rewards. For $95 a year, the Sapphire Preferred card earns 2x points on all travel and dining purchases, including everything from dining to takeout and delivery to airfare, hotels and even rideshares like Lyft and Uber. 

The points you earn on the Sapphire Preferred can be transferred to Southwest and over a dozen other travel partners, including United Airlines and Hyatt, among others. 

Alternatively, you could book travel directly through Chase’s travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. If you’re not traveling right now, you have other redemption options with the Sapphire Preferred, too. For example, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for eligible statement credits using the Pay Yourself Back program at a 25% boosted value.

Beyond rewards, this card has some noteworthy benefits and travel protections that make it a popular choice among travelers.

For example, you can earn 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022, $60 in statement credits toward Peloton membership through Dec. 2021, and 12 months of DashPass from DoorDash (activate by Dec. 31, 2021.) The Chase Sapphire Preferred also gives you primary auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance and more.

APRs

The APRs for both cards vary but are within a similar range. The Sapphire Preferred has a variable APR rate of 15.99 – 25.99% and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier has a variable APR of 15.99% – 22.99%.

We advise you to pay your card balance in full every month, in any case, to avoid paying any interest. The charges at even the lowest credit card interest can negate the value of a card’s benefits. 

Fees

The annual fees aren’t high for these two cards compared to some premium travel cards. The Sapphire Preferred costs $95 a year, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier has a $99 annual fee. But the sign-up bonuses, credits and rewards on each card can help offset the annual fees.

Deciding Between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Cards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s current 100,000-point sign-up bonus and the ability to transfer points to Southwest and many other travel partners make it a clear winner for most travelers. 

But if you are a Southwest loyalist and you are looking to earn the airline’s coveted Companion Pass, then the Southwest Rapid Rewards has a clear value proposition for you, at an annual fee that’s essentially the same. 

In fact, you could even pair the two cards and have a more strategic approach to your spending and travel. For example, you could use your co-branded Southwest card when you’re flying Southwest to get closer to earning a Companion Pass, and use the Sapphire Preferred for other travel and dining purchases and to book with different airlines and hotels. 

If you could only pick one, the decision ultimately comes down to how often you fly with Southwest compared to other airlines. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, but its anniversary bonuses will help you earn points faster and its sign-up bonus can help you earn the Companion Pass quicker. 

But if you’re after a higher sign-up bonus and fly with different airlines often, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card would be a better choice.