Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card overview
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is the middle of the pack when it comes to Southwest personal credit cards. While airline credit cards generally don’t come with too many perks, the absence of foreign transaction fees and 6,000-anniversary bonus points should help offset this card’s reasonable $99 annual fee. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Savvy TPG readers know that we generally don’t recommend building your points strategy around a single cobranded airline credit card, as these tend to offer fewer perks and less flexibility than a comparably-priced transferable points card.
When it comes to the Southwest Rapid Rewards card portfolio, you’ll generally find better earning rates and more flexible redemption options with cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — which you can then transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 rate.
That said, Southwest credit cards are very popular among Southwest fans. The mid-tier version of the three personal Southwest cards — the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card — has a good balance of perks and an annual fee that could make it worthy of a spot in your card collection.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Southwest Premier Card to help you decide if it should earn a spot in your wallet.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card welcome offer
New applicants for the Southwest Premier card can earn 30,000 bonus points plus a Companion Pass (excludes taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way) valid through Feb. 28, 2024. You can earn both of these by spending $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. This offer ends March 13.
TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents apiece, making the 30,000 points worth $450. While you can redeem points in several ways, the best value will come from using them for flights.
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Keep in mind that you can’t earn a sign-up bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card if you currently have any personal Southwest card, nor are you eligible if you earned a sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest card in the past 24 months.
Also, all of Southwest’s cobranded cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five or more new accounts over the past 24 months (across all issuers, not just Chase), you’re likely to be denied for this card.
Earning points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Most airline credit cards award bonus points or miles for purchases directly with the carrier, and that’s certainly true here: You’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent with Southwest on the Premier Card.
However, it also has some other enticing bonus categories: You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting purchases, internet, cable and phone services and with select streaming providers. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
This amounts to a 4.5% return on spending with Southwest and a 1.5% return on everyday spending, according to our valuations.
Redeeming points on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
When it’s time to use your rewards, one of the best things about redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points is the simplicity of the process. Whether you select the cheapest Wanna Get Away fares or the most expensive Business Select tickets, the cost of your award ticket is tied to the cash price of the flight.
This means you don’t have to worry about getting the highest possible cent-per-point redemption value. If you have Rapid Rewards points, you can redeem them for gift cards or merchandise, but the best value comes from using your points for Southwest flights — including options to Hawaii and international destinations.
Remember that Southwest’s policy of no change or cancellation fees means that you can reprice your award ticket if the price drops. This offers valuable flexibility to get the best possible redemption.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card benefits
While you don’t expect an airline credit card with a $99 annual fee to come loaded with perks, there are quite a few benefits on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.
You’ll receive 6,000 bonus points on each account anniversary, which TPG values at $90 — meaning that the anniversary bonus nearly offsets the card’s $99 annual fee.
Also, you’ll enjoy additional benefits like two EarlyBird check-ins per year with the Southwest Premier Card — helping you get on the plane early to snag a better seat — and 25% back on inflight purchases.
You may also be interested in earning Southwest A-List elite status to further enhance your travels with the carrier. Doing so requires completing 25 qualifying flights or earning 35,000 tier-qualifying points (TQPs) in a calendar year. You can earn bonus TQPs by spending on the Premier card: 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent per calendar year.
Which cards compete with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card?
The Southwest Premier card has two obvious competitors: the other Southwest credit cards from Chase. However, it’s worth also considering a general travel credit card with a similar annual fee to see whether this is better for your wallet. Let’s see how they stack up.
- If you want a Southwest card with more perks: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card has an annual fee of $149 but offers a $75 annual Southwest credit, 7,500-point anniversary bonus and four upgraded boardings per year. It earns the same rate on Southwest flights: 3 points per dollar. For more information, read our full review of the Southwest Priority card.
- If you want a Southwest card with a lower annual fee: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus has a $69 annual fee and an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. You’ll also receive 2 EarlyBird check-ins every card anniversary. For more information, read our full review of the Southwest Plus card.
- If you want points you can use both with Southwest and other airlines: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer 1:1 to Southwest — as well as a wide range of airlines — for making flight redemptions. You’ll get numerous travel protections, a $50 annual hotel credit and robust earning categories, and the card has a $95 annual fee. For more information, read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.
For more options, check out our full list of travel credit cards.
Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card worth it?
The Southwest Premier card with a $99 annual fee is mostly offset by the 6,000 anniversary bonus points, which have a value of $90, according to TPG’s valuations. If you value its other perks at more than $9, then that covers the annual fee. However, most Southwest loyalists should apply for the Priority card instead, as it has more benefits.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card can be a good option for frequent Southwest flyers and currently comes with bonus points and a shortcut to the Companion Pass — valid through Feb. 28, 2024. If you fly with Southwest occasionally, the price point and perks on this card could make it a good fit for your wallet without the higher price tag on other travel credit cards.
Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon, Christina Ly and Ryan Smith.