Why the Southwest Credit Card is Nearly Perfect for Domestic US Travelers

This week I was having an email conversation with someone. We were discussing the Southwest credit card.

Almost mid-sentence, I started feeling like a sleazy salesman. I was really pushing hard for her to consider this card because I felt like it would suit her travel needs well and was a great value.

I guess there is a fine line between sleazy salesman and passion!

I’d recommend this card to my own mother, but she lives in Canada, so she’s not eligible. I’d recommend this card to my own mother-in-law, but I’ve already tried to convince her to sign up for other cards, and it didn’t pan out.

So, I guess you’re the last person I need to try and convince that this is one of the best current credit card offers for domestic travel in the US.

Reasons Why the Southwest Credit Card is Nearly Perfect for Newbies

Most mileage related travel blogs correctly remind us that the best value for frequent flyer miles is business and first class tickets overseas.

However, for most people, all they want to be able to do is to get on a flight from California and travel to Houston to see a relative.

The Southwest card is ideal for that.

1. During sign up promotions the Southwest Visa offers the largest dollar value of current credit card offers 

This card did at one point have a 50,000 mile sign up offer.  Now it’s 25,000.

Some of the other current best offers will allow you to get $625 worth of travel (Chase Sapphire Preferred) or $665 worth of travel (Citi Premier). The Southwest card is $833 worth of travel. Even when you account for the annual fee, that is still $730 worth of travel.

2. Southwest consistently has some of the best domestic fares (especially when you include baggage).

I don’t mean to be a defeatist, but these days it doesn’t make sense for our family to fly on any airline other than Southwest. We’ve got three kids, so we take 2-3 bags (at least) every time we fly. That’s easily a $75 savings compared to other airlines.

Additionally, I use a homemade lowest price guarantee with Southwest. The beauty with these Southwest points is that if you find a lower fare, you can make the same changes to use fewer points.

3. Southwest offers some of the easiest redemption experiences.

The thing that absolutely frustrates newbies is trying to redeem points. That’s why I think the Southwest program has training wheels for anyone new to points.

Here’s the deal. If you can buy a Southwest ticket with cash, you can buy it with Southwest points. No black out dates.  No seat restrictions.

The amount of points needed increases as the cost of the ticket increases.

That’s why you can even use this card for up to five free round trip tickets – if you shop right and have an ideal city pair where you travel.

Reasons not to get the Southwest Card:

What? If this card is so good, why wouldn’t I want to get it?

This card isn’t for everyone.

  • Some people hate Southwest open seating policy. When you buy a ticket or check in, you don’t get an assigned seat. Instead, when you walk on the plane, you take whatever seat is open.
  • Southwest sells most of their seats. Compared to other airlines, Southwest does a good job filling up their planes. As a result, there tend to be more passengers on flights.
  • Southwest doesn’t (essentially) have any true premium services. They do have Business Select, but it’s hardly a first class arrangement.
  • Southwest may not fly out of your desired city.
  • You don’t have any interest in paying an annual fee!   Yes, there is a $69 annual fee.

For those who want to avoid Southwest and want to fly domestically in the US, I think your next two best alternatives are the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Premier card.  Otherwise for domestic travel you should check out the Southwest credit card.


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