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Southwest Brings Back 50,000-Point Credit Card Bonus

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.

Reader Reality Check

Any takers?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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