SouthWest Airlines is the largest and most successful "discount" airlines in the US. Being perhaps the lowest cost carrier, they can offer perks that very few other airlines can offer. For example, passengers can check in two baggages free. Other airlines (without the low cost structure) have simply tagged on fees for baggage. But perhaps, the best perk of flying SouthWest is that when you earn frequent flyer miles with them, they are much easier to use and get seats than other airlines. If there is a seat, your miles will get them.
Which brings us to their credit card. Southwest has two of them, the "plus" version and the "premier" version. The "plus" version is the lowest tier version and the subject this review.
Another way to earn Rapid Reward Miles - Any frequent flyer will tell you that getting a particular airline credit card is the fastest way to earn miles (aside from flying). This card is no different. If you purchase Southwest tickets with the card, you will earn double miles for every dollar the ticket cost (this is pretty much standard with most frequent flyer cards). For regular purchases, the usual one mile per dollar formula applies.
Double Miles on Southwest Hotels - This card also allows you to earn double miles if you book "Southwest hotels". They question you will probably ask is what is "Southwest Hotels"? You probably scratching your heads because technically, Southwest does not own any hotel chains.
Starting in February of 2011, Southwest started to encourage folks who book tickets with them to also book their hotels with them. They upgraded their web page southwest.com/hotels to include reviews from tripadvisors. You can also book multiple rooms at once and search for hotels based on the neighborhood it is in. Southwest already has hotel partners for its Rapid Rewards program and presumably, they get paid a finders fee if you book hotels through them. And so they are encouraging cardholders to do so by rewarding them with double miles!
Using Rapid Reward Points for International Flights - Southwest is a domestic airline with no international routes. They have recently acquired Air Tran, but they are not exactly an international airline as well. If you are a cardholder, one of the privileges is that you can use SouthWest points to book international airline on most airlines. Because Southwest actually books for you, the value is 1% (ie 100 miles gets you $1 in value).
Anniversary Bonus Miles - One of the nice feature of this card is that you will get 3,000 anniversary bonus miles every year you keep your card. This is worth $50 in wanna-get-away fares, which covers the $49 annual fee.
Sign Up Bonuses - When you review airline cards, we cannot escape talking about sign up bonuses. With this card, you get 25,000 bonus miles after your first purchase. This is worth $400 in wanna-get-away flight which is enough for a roundtrip ticket (depending on where you are fly to). This is actually great because more cards are making you jump through hoops (like spending requirements) to get those bonuses. And if you happen to want to transfer a balance, you can earn one miles for every dollar that you transfer a balance over (within 90 days of account opening) up to a cap of 10,000 miles!
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus - A great card to get - I fly Southwest whenever I can because it has the lowest prices tickets most of the time (for me at least). I like the airline because the service is good, staff are friendly and ticketing is really simple. You can check in your bags for free (which is why this card does not need to offer such features). Though there is no priority boarding feature on this card, you do not really need it because all you need to do is to check in 24 hours ahead on the internet and you will get to board on zone 2!
If you fly this airline, what you would appreciate is that you could use miles for their wanna-get-away fares (the cheapest ones) and if there is a seat, you will get it. There literally is no black out dates. If you happen to book your hotels with Southwest, you could also rack up more miles with this card.
If you are a Rapid Rewards member, I would not hesitate to get this.