First Impressions: Chase Southwest Plus

I took a break from my “First Impressions” posts on my new credit cards, as I thought they were starting to get repetitive.  Apply.  Get card.  Spend $$$.  Get miles.  Travel.

Obviously, credit cards don’t differ heavily from one to the next on the surface.  Sure, there’s a few different networks, different airlines partner with different banks, and then there’s fixed-value card, hotel cards, airline cards.  But they’re all the same shape.  Most are plastic.  All your cards will turn around and bite you if you’re not careful.

While reviewing some of the data on my posts, I realized the First Impressions category was quite a hit  Don’t worry, I use that term very loosely.  By “hit,” I mean that you know, a handful of people clicked on it.  The Southwest Premier vs. Personal post was particularly well-received.

So, this one is for you credit card nerds!

Application and Offer

The Southwest Plus application is just like any other online.  I now like to consider myself a veteran of Chase applications, and this one is just as simple.  Chase does a decent job of making the personal application easy to fill out online.  After all, they want to put their cards in your wallet.  Always hoping that you’re the perfect consumer, walking the fine line between being too risky, and paying plenty of interest to line their pockets.

Here’s the catch.  I filled out this application over the phone.  For some, it’s hard to imagine a time without the internet, and all those little radio buttons you click when you’re filling out forms.  This happened to be my first credit card application over the phone.  I received a referral for this card from a friend, but the referral was only good over the phone, and couldn’t be completed online.

The Chase representative was very nice and the process was simple.  He just asked me all the questions I would have typically seen on an online application, plus a few extra with regards to the referral.  I wasn’t instantly approved, and he explained that I’d be notified in writing in 30 business days.  Uh oh.

For anyone applying to Chase cards recently, you know the 30 day message could mean bad news.  There are a lot of reports that the 30 day message often results in a denial letter.  Typically received much sooner than 30 days.  With the new expansion of Chase’s 5/24 rule to its cobranded cards, and more frequent reports of customer service representatives determined to not override denials, I was nervous.  I decided not to call into the reconsideration line, and just bide my time.

Good things come to those who wait right?  My patience was rewarded with a shiny new Southwest Plus card.

The referral I was given came with a 50,000 Rapid Rewards bonus for $2,000 spend in the first 90 days.  This is the highest typical offer on the card, and usually comes around to the public at least once a year.  If you want the offer any other time of the year, find a friend with the Plus card and a referral link.

The Card

Almost identical to the Premier card, I really enjoy the design on the front of all the Southwest cards.  It’s just a Southwest plane on the front, but I think it makes the card all the more appealing.  Too many credit cards have boring designs (in my opinion), or just a simple color on the front.  All three Southwest Chase cards:  the Personal Plus, Personal Premier, and the Business Premier look very similar.

The Chase Southwest Plus card is a Visa Signature card, and has a $69 annual fee.  The annual fee is not waived the first year, so consider that extra expense when applying.  In exchange for the annual fee, cardholders receive 3,000 Rapid Rewards points on their cardmember anniversary.

Card Benefits

  • Visa Signature Benefits
  • 2 Rapid Rewards Points/$ spent on Southwest and thier hotel and rental car partners
  • 1 Rapid Rewards Point/$ spent
  • 3,000 Rapid Rewards points every cardmember anniversary

Rapid Rewards Points Miles?

I wrestle with this a bit.  Of course, it isn’t a big deal, but are Rapid Rewards points really points?  Or are they miles?

Southwest labels them points, but for me, they’re miles.  I tend to think of miles as airline-branded points.  As such, Rapid Rewards are miles, since they’re directly linked to the account.

Points are issued by credit card companies and banks, and can often be used for statement credits, or to transfer to partners.  I earn points on my Barclaycard Arrival+, and on my American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.  I earn miles on my Citi AAdvantage Executive and my United MileagePlus Explorer.

It’s a minor difference, but can have larger implications.  When closing an account, it really comes into play.  If I close my Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, I won’t lose anything, because they’re miles.  At the close of every credit card statement, the miles earned are deposited into my Rapid Rewards account with the airline.  Once the spending is done, there’s nothing tying the earned miles to the card.  Points are more fragile.  If I close my AmEx PRG right now, I lose the 50,000 points associated with the account.  Those points are worth up to $950 at current valuations.

There’s no way I’m closing that card until I use those points!

Plus vs. Premier

Take a look at the full post here.  Essentially, the difference boils down to a few items:

  1. The Premier has no foreign transaction fees.  This benefit is not shared with the Plus.
  2. The Plus has an annual fee of $69, with 3,000 anniversary miles.  2.3 cents per point.
  3. The Premier has an annual fee of $99, with 6,000 anniversary miles.  1.65 cents per point.

Just like the design on the front of the card, the benefits are virtually identical.  If you fly Southwest frequently, I’d argue that the Premier is the better card.  With no foreign transaction fees, it’s a more useful card in a traveler’s wallet, and the higher annual fee is worth the extra miles, in my opinion.  You’re essentially paying $30 for 3,000 more miles, which is a great value (1 cent per mile), when Rapid Rewards are typically valued around 1.4-1.5 cents per point.

I’ll also have First Impressions posts coming up for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card that I opened a few weeks ago, and the newest addition to the family:  the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business card.  If I get really bored, you might even see a post about the Disney Visa I opened up from Chase before the family vacation last month!

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