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Southwest’s 50,000-Point Credit Card Bonus Is Back

Southwest’s 50,000-Point Credit Card Bonus Is Back

NOTE: This offer was terminated as of November 13, 2011.

With the many credit card incentives currently in circulation, anything less than a 50,000-mile bonus just isn’t going to get much traction with consumers.

Apparently with that in mind, Chase, which has established itself as the premier issuer of rewards credit cards, has launched a new 50,000-point bonus promotion to ensure that its Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa cards remain top-of-mind among the travel rewards set.

Offers Details

Over the summer, Southwest was offering 50,000 bonus points after the first charge to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa.  That offer is being reprised, but this time the bonus applies to both the pricier Premier ($99 annual fee) and cheaper Plus ($69 annual fee) cards.

 In Southwest’s new program, 50,000 Rapid Rewards points translate into more than $800 toward Wanna Get Away award tickets — probably two free round-trip flights.

Other card details:

  • Both cards award two points per $1 on purchases of Southwest tickets and Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners; one point per $1 for other charges.
  • Annual percentage rate (APR) is variable — the Prime Rate plus 10.99 percent — currently 14.24 percent.
  • Premier cardholders receive 6,000 bonus points on their anniversary, enough for $100 toward a Wanna Get Away award ticket.
  • Plus cardholders receive 3,000 bonus points on their anniversary.

There’s no published end date to the 50,000-point offer, but my guess is that it will be in place for a month or so.

Deal or No Deal

Southwest isn’t known for its aggressive credit card offers, so this is likely as good as it’s going to get.  Which is to say, if a Rapid Rewards-linked credit card is on your shopping list, this would be a good time to pull the trigger.

Unless you’re a serial card acquirer — a "flipper," who signs up solely for the bonus, and then moves on — the question posed by a credit card has less to do with the card itself than it does with the program it’s linked to.  So in this case, the question is: Is Southwest’s Rapid Rewards a program that meets your needs?

The new revenue-based version of the program has seemingly split the traveler universe into fierce partisans and equally fierce critics.  For those in the former camp, the Rapid Rewards credit card is a natural adjunct to their participation in the program.  For those in the latter camp, the question is moot.

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Southwest’s 50,000-Point Credit Card Bonus Is Back

Southwest’s 50,000-Point Credit Card Bonus Is Back

In today’s ultra-aggressive credit card marketing environment, modest card bonuses don’t get a second look from jaded consumers.

Southwest may have learned that lesson the hard way when it scaled back its 50,000-point credit card sign-up offer to a yawn-worthy 25,000 points in November of last year.

My guess — and it’s only that — is that take-up on the cards since the bonus was gutted has been less than spectacular. And no wonder, with sign-up offers of 110,000 miles (Capital One Venture), 100,000 miles (British Airways Visa), and 50,000 miles (United, Chase Sapphire Preferred) vying for travelers’ attention and business.

For whatever reasons, Southwest has brought back the 50,000-point offer, albeit with a spend requirement that was not part of last year’s promotion.

And the timing couldn’t be better. None of the aforementioned lucrative bonuses is still in effect.

Card Details

  • The new 50,000-point offer applies both to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card ($99 annual fee) and the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus card ($69 annual fee).
  • The bonus for both cards is the same: 50,000 points after spending at least $1,000 during the first three months. That translates into more than $800 toward Wanna Get Away award tickets — probably two free round-trip flights.
  • Both cards award two points per $1 on purchases of Southwest tickets and Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners; one point per $1 for other charges.
  • The annual percentage rate for both cards is variable, currently 15.24 percent.
  • Premier cardholders receive 6,000 bonus points on their anniversary, enough for $100 toward a Wanna Get Away award ticket.
  • Plus cardholders receive 3,000 bonus points on their anniversary.
  • There’s no published end date to the 50,000-point promotion, so there’s no telling when it will revert to a lesser offer.

Deal or No Deal

This is definitely a solid deal, both compared to the "normal" Southwest sign-up offer and the sign-up bonuses available for other rewards cards.

But unless you’re a serial card acquirer — a "flipper," who signs up solely for the bonus, and then moves on — the question posed by a credit card has less to do with the upfront bonus than it does with the program it’s linked to. So in this case, the question is: Is Southwest’s Rapid Rewards a program that meets your needs?

The new revenue-based Rapid Rewards program has both its defenders and its detractors. For those in the former camp, a Rapid Rewards credit card is a natural adjunct to their participation in the program, and the bonus is just that: a bonus. For those in the latter camp, the question is moot.

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