By Lisa Whitlaw

Because Lyn recommends that travelers hold both Southwest credit cards AND Chase Sapphire Preferred if they want to fly free, lots of people want to know when it’s best to use each card to pay for purchases. 

[Read Lyn’s Full Recommended Travel Credit Card Plan to Fly Free]

If you’re trying to maximize your spending by using the right credit card in order to earn the most travel bang for your buck, which one should you use?

Before we get to that answer, let’s first take a quick look at each type of card.


Southwest Cards vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

southwest credit card sand lei

First, Southwest credit cards earn Southwest points, usually 1 point per $1 for most expenses and between 2 to 3 points per $1 on Southwest and partner travel company (car rentals, hotels) purchases.

These points DO qualify for the 135,000 points you need to earn to secure a Southwest Companion Pass, which lets 1 person fly free with you for up to 2 years. You can also, of course, use them to book free flights on Southwest as soon as they credit to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.

Chase Sapphire Preferred, which happens to be Lyn’s FAVORITE travel credit card, does not directly earn Southwest points. It earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, BUT these points DO transfer to Southwest INSTANTLY at a 1:1 ratio.

This allows you to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book free Southwest flights once you’ve transferred them to your Southwest account, though these points DO NOT qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

[Read Lyn’s Full Review of Chase Sapphire Preferred]


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Question: Which card should I use for purchases: Southwest or Chase Sapphire Preferred?



It depends…😉

Here are a couple of things to consider before you decide which card to use for your spending.

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1. Are you completing a minimum spend?

The first thing you’ll want to consider is if you need to complete a minimum spend on one of the cards. If so, it’s probably best to use that card until that spend is completed. 

If you don’t meet the minimum spend, you can’t earn the promised credit card bonus! And those are usually the quickest and BEST ways to earn lots of loyalty points quickly. 


2. Are you trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass?

If you’re trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll want to opt for your Southwest card. Why?

The only credit card points that qualify for a Southwest Companion Pass are those earned via the Southwest credit cards. 


[Check out this reader’s question: Do Chase Sapphire Preferred Points Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass]


By continuing to spend on your Southwest credit cards, you can earn MORE Southwest Companion Pass-qualifying points. 

Most purchases just earn 1 point per $1, but Southwest and partner program purchases (this includes some hotels and car rental companies) can earn 2 or 3 points per $1, depending on the card you hold. 


3. Already have a Southwest Companion Pass or not trying to earn one?

If you’ve already earned your Southwest Companion Pass or are not trying to earn one (though we could NEVER imagine why you wouldn’t want to earn one 😉), you’ll want to opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for your spending, in our opinion. 

There are a couple of reasons:

  1. This card earns DOUBLE points on all dining and travel expenses, so you’ll definitely want to use it for those purchases, as you earn MORE points and can still transfer them over to use on Southwest if you want. 
  2. Its points are flexible. So you can leave them in your Chase Ultimate Rewards account until you need to use them. Maybe you’ll use them for Southwest flights or maybe you’ll use them for free flights to Europe on Aer Lingus like Lyn’s family or maybe you’ll use them like Cami for free hotel stays at Hyatt or IHG. Whatever you need, they’re waiting for you there. 
  3. Spouses can combine points. Unlike Southwest, which charges you a hefty fee to transfer Southwest points from one account to another, Chase lets those who have the same address combine (or transfer) points FREE and then move them over to your preferred loyalty account. 

So that’s our best advice of when to use a Southwest card versus when to use Chase Sapphire Preferred

What do you think? How do you use these cards?


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