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Is a Southwest card the best option for airline miles?

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 This reader question showed up in my inbox today so I thought I’d give it a quick answer.

I thought I remembered reading about you having a Southwest Airlines credit card. I searched on the website, but didn’t find any results.

Also do you know what Wanna Get Away is on their website?

-Campground Girl

We sure do. Mr. FG and I use the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card for almost all of our purchases, and we’ve gotten lots of free flights this way.

From my free flight to Tahoe this year

We never use the card to buy things we don’t already have the money for, and we pay the card in full each month. Otherwise, interest charges would quickly negate any airline mile benefits.

We love our Southwest card!


Sometimes you can get a better deal by signing up for the Chase Sapphire credit card.

I know that’s not a Southwest card, but the travel reward point bonus from the Chase card can be easily redeemed for Southwest Airline points, or for all kinds of other travel expenses (lodging, car rental, etc.).

Which card is a better option right now?

The Chase Sapphire credit card 60,000 bonus points are worth $750 in travel, which is more than the 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards card points.

However, the Chase card has a higher spend requirement to earn the points ($4000 in 3 months, vs $1000 in 3 months).

You do pay an annual fee with these cards, but the introductory bonus is so valuable, it’s going to far outweigh the annual fee.

What’s Wanna Get Away?

That’s Southwest’s lowest fare option and it’s the one we use every single time (it maximizes our points!)

Wanna Get Away tickets aren’t refundable (though you can exchange them for future travel) and they require advanced booking.

(There’s more detailed information right here.)

My take is that Wanna Get Away is totally awesome and you should always check for it when booking Southwest!

Readers, do you use a rewards credit card? Or do you stick with a debit card?

P.S. Obviously I personally think a rewards credit card is worth having, but please only apply for a credit card if you know you can trust yourself with it.  If there’s any chance that you will use the card to start spending more than you have, you are better off sticking with your debit card.

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Thursday 23rd of May 2019

I started with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and upgraded it to the Chase Sapphire Reserve since we travel a ton. 3x points on all travel and dining (travel even includes things like Uber, street meters, garages, and dining includes things like a vending machine!). Points can be transferred to airline partners including Southwest or redeemed for 1.5 cents per point toward anything travel related (hotels, airfare, rental cars).

One point to make - please never use a debit card. If your information is taken and you have a fraudulent transaction, it's almost impossible to get that money back. On a credit card, every purchase is protected ... and there are lots of other benefits of a travel card like CSP - travel insurance, primary rental car insurance, etc. I only use a debit card for ATMs, and that's rare.


Thursday 23rd of May 2019

I thought on Southwest that you can’t reserve a seat. Is that true? How do you not get caught in a stampede and not get stuck in the worst middle seat on a plane?


Thursday 23rd of May 2019

You check in 24 hours before your flight and are assigned a boarding order. The more promptly you check in, the more likely you get an early boarding number and thus get more seats to choose from.

You can also pay for early bird check in, which automatically checks you in. But I hate paying for that and I don't care THAT much where I sit, so I pretty much never do early bird check in.

Diane C

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

One more Southwest tip: Once you purchase a fare, if it goes down further, they will credit you the difference, but only of you ask. The credit can only be used for future travel within one year, but I've saved a few bucks this way, just by paying attention.

Madeline Theresa Kasian

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

I use a regular older Chase credit card for ALL our purchases,groceries,etc and we pay it off every month. I accumulate points and use them for travel,mostly. We use Southwest airline as much as we can since we live in Phoenix and it's easy--and their policy of allowing you to cancel and still SAVE the money for a future trip is awesome!! NO EXTRA FEES for doing that!!

Using our Chase card for purchases gives a LOT of extra benefits too: travel insurance! Extended warranties on items you purchase, and they will help you if there is a dispute over a purchase.

Big believer in having at least one good card and paying it off monthly. I can also track expenses easily from our monthly statement!

Randi Macdonald

Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

We have two airline credit cards. Alaska and American. We fly mostly with Alaska so that works best. We paid 450.00 to have the American card because it comes with Admirals club membership( that also lets us use partner lounges of which Alaska is one!!). We get free bags with both, and a 100.00 credit for global entry which we both have. This year, we're taking 5 trips. We're going to Maui for Xmas and I used the b1g1 companion fare offer. The companion fare is 99.00 plus tax. That worked well for the Maui trip. I also have a Starbucks card. When I signed up, I got 25 free items. I also have a TJ Maxx credit card and use that for ONLY purchases at TJ Maxx, Home goods and Marshalls. We pay them all off each month.

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