This Year Southwest Airlines Will Let You Earn Elite Status Entirely From Card Spend

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Southwest Airlines extended current elite status and made both elite status and companion pass easier to earn this year and use next year.

All Rapid Rewards members are given 15,000 elite qualifying points; 10 flight segments; and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 Companion Pass qualifying flights in their accounts as a head start towards earning both.

Credit card spending already counts towards companion pass. Normally, however, the amount of credit towards elite status you can earn from a credit card has been capped.

Generally Southwest Airlines co-brand cardmembers could earn 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 qualifying points per year. For the rest of this year, however:

  • The earning rate is doubled: 3000 tier points per $10,000 spend.
  • No cap: Earn status entirely via credit card spend if you wish

A List Status which is great for getting your most desired seat requires 25 flights or 35,000 points. You start with 10 flights and 15,000 points, meaning that you just need 15 more flights or 20,000 points this year. $70,000 spend and nothing else is enough to earn this status. Of course you can combine flights and card spend towards it.

A List Preferred Status which comes with a 100% earning bonus and free wifi requires 50 flights or 70,000 points meaning that you need just 40 more flights or 55,000 points this year. $240,000 spend and nothing else is enough to earn this status.

Your spend with accelerated benefit for Rapid Rewards elite status must be between the first day of your billing cycle ending in May 2020 and the last day of your billing cycle ending in December 2020 and is available for Premier Consumer, Premier Business, Priority and Performance Rapid Rewards cardmembers.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the premium Southwest Airlines co-brand card really designed for folks who fly Southwest. The card’s initial bonus lets you earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. [Offer expired]

    This $149 annual fee card provides a $75 travel credit with the airline each year; 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies; and four upgraded boardings per year when available (when A1-15 boarding positions are offered at the gate, buy it and you’ll receive a statement credit for the charge).

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has an offer to earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. [Offer expired]

This is a great way to encourage spend on the card, along the same links of thinking that spend on American Airlines cards currently counts towards lifetime elite status and spend on a Hyatt card temporarily earns status faster.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. My account still doesn’t show the “All Rapid Rewards members are given 15,000 elite qualifying points; 10 flight segments; and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 Companion Pass qualifying flights in their accounts as a head start towards earning both.” yet. I’m not sure if they are still implementing these changes yet or they are already in place and I need to call. Do you show them?

  2. Yes, I too am not sure what this article is referring to as I spend a healthy amount on Southwest branded CC’s every month and my A-list status shows 0/35,000 points. None of the spending I have done has counted towards A list and I don’t have any there by default either.

  3. Well, good news, the defaults changed in the last couple days and I now see the default 15,000 credit towards A list in there. Along with the first 3,000 credit from spending in May.

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