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Opening a Southwest credit card, offered by the airline and Chase, will now get you their biggest-ever sign-up bonus. New cardholders also earn extra points on Southwest purchases through the end of March, so you could score lots of bonus rewards over the next few months.

Here are the details on the new Southwest bonuses, and a look at why the end of the year is the perfect time to apply for a Southwest credit card.

Limited-time bonus offers for Southwest credit cards

There are two limited-time offers available with Southwest's personal credit cards:

  • 80,000 bonus points: New cardholders earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in three months, plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first nine months.
  • 5 points per $1 on Southwest purchases: Applies on up to $2,000 per month from Dec. 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. All other Southwest purchases (past the $2,000-per-month spending cap) earn 2 points per $1.

Southwest points are worth about $0.015 each. So, to give you an idea of the value of those bonuses, 80,000 points should get you about $1,200 in free flights.

You can get these offers with any of the three personal credit cards offered by Southwest:

The 80,000-point sign-up bonuses are double what the Southwest credit cards typically offer. The standard amount is 40,000 points for spending $1,000 in three months. There's a higher spending minimum to get 80,000 points, but it shouldn't be too much for most consumers.

Some cardholders also get 5 points per $1 on Amazon and groceries. You need to activate this offer, which applies to up to $1,500 in spending through the end of 2020.

Why now is the best time to apply for a Southwest card

These bonuses are obviously a great incentive to open a credit card with Southwest. But they're not the only reason it's smart to apply now.

The points you earn on a Southwest credit card can help you get the airline's Companion Pass. You qualify by earning 125,000 points within a calendar year. Once you qualify, you get the Companion Pass for the rest of the year and the following full calendar year.

That means it's better to earn a Companion Pass earlier in the year, because you'll have more time to use it. And the Southwest Companion Pass is one of the very best. It allows you to choose one person to fly with you free of charge (except taxes and fees) every time you book a flight with Southwest. It works whether you book with cash or by redeeming points.

By getting a Southwest credit card now, you can earn the full 80,000 bonus points in early 2021. You'll also earn those 5 points per $1 on up to $2,000 in Southwest purchases per month through March. Fulfilling these offers puts you much closer to a Companion Pass.

Eligibility requirements

Before applying for a Southwest card, you need to know if you're eligible. These are the typical requirements:

  • You've gotten fewer than five credit accounts in the last 24 months. Due to Chase's 5/24 rule, applicants who have opened five or more credit accounts in that time are almost always denied.
  • You don't already have a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card (excluding business and employee cards), and you haven't gotten a sign-up bonus on one of these cards in the last 24 months.
  • You have good credit, meaning your FICO® Score is 670 or higher.

With the benefits they offer, Southwest credit cards are well suited to the airline's frequent flyers. These limited-time bonuses are a great way to get even more value from them as a new cardholder.