Or “Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card ACTUALLY worth it?”
Back in February 2015, my photografriend Amy and I planned a styled shoot in Charleston. It had been a longtime career goal of mine that nearly got derailed when I found out I was expecting (and due in May 2015). We ended up revisiting the idea that winter and decided it was “now or never,” and planned it literally with one month to spare.
One of my business (and personal) values is resourcefulness, especially when it comes to finances. In other words — I try really hard to spend money wisely; especially when it comes to business expenses! So while we were figuring out logistics for our shoot, Amy mentioned she had Southwest points built up from her Southwest Rewards Chase card. This piqued my interest, since the card Drew and I had used up to this point to build our credit had a seriously lacking “rewards” system and was basically worthless (you know the ones where they give you points you can apply for a coupon of some-odd dollars off, but you have to spend so much to even use the coupon… #ridiculous).
Our Charleston trip ended up being too quick of a turnaround to earn the sign-on bonus points, but I did end up getting the card the following August when one of my best friends got engaged and planned a destination wedding outside San Francisco. We put all our expenses on the card from August – December 2016 and I was able to fly to San Jose for next to nothing, just by using points! (I think my total fees were around $11 after all was said and done… and this was for a normally $800 peak season week-before-Christmas weekend flight!)
Drew and I don’t fly a tremendous amount, but every few years we love to plan a tropical vacation. We’ve gone to Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Punta Cana (in the Dominican Republic) over the last 6 years, and although our baby-birthing years put a dent in our capacity to travel — we’re returning to Mexico this summer!! Knowing that we would eventually want to plan a big trip that would require flights, we put almost all our expenses on the SW Chase card in 2017 and built up enough points to cover our roundtrip flights (and then some) to Mexico from Nashville.
With it being an international flight, some taxes and fees did get tacked onto the end (totaling just over $170 for two of us), but that was a heck of a lot better than paying $1200 (which it would be if we had to pay completely out of pocket) — and that savings definitely outweighs the $69 annual fee it costs to have the card. ($1200 normal price – $170 in fees – $140 for two years of the card = $900 saved.)
Credit cards aren’t for everyone, but if you plan to travel somewhere in the next year or so that you can fly Southwest and need a great rewards card you can pay off every month, it’s excellent! The perks just keep going if you travel frequently, since more rewards points accumulate from Southwest purchases. Southwest offers some sign-on promos throughout the year but you can use our referral link to get 50,000 bonus points if you spend $2k within the first 3 months of having the card. If you end up getting one, let me know where you’re headed!!