Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
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Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review: Is it Worth the Annual Fee?

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review: Is it Worth the Annual Fee?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a solid card with a low annual fee that offers high value for frequent Southwest flyers.

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Editor's Rating

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Quick facts

More details

Rates & fees

  • Credit needed: 720 - 850
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earning rate: Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0
  • Earns Companion Pass points: The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to choose a designated companion to fly with you nearly for free for as long as you hold the pass.

Quick facts

  • Credit needed: 720 - 850
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earning rate: Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • Annual fee: $99
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0
  • Earns Companion Pass points: The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to choose a designated companion to fly with you nearly for free for as long as you hold the pass.

More details

  • New Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Rates & fees

  • Intro Purchase APR: N/A
  • Regular Purchase APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Intro BT APR: N/A
  • Regular BT APR: 18.24% - 25.24% Variable
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Pros

  • High sign-up bonus
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Excellent additional perks for Southwest flyers
  • Points count towards earning a Companion Pass
  • Travel and purchase protections
  • Points don't expire

Cons

  • Sign-up bonus may be hard to attain
  • $99 annual fee
  • Subpar rewards rate
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Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card worth it?

First Year Savings

$880 ?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a straightforward, consumer-friendly card that can certainly be worth it for frequent Southwest flyers. The card lets you rack up Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a fair pace, easily justifying its annual fee. Plus, all points earned with your card will count towards earning the highly-coveted Companion Pass, which lets a friend fly with you for free for an entire year. We estimate that the average consumer can earn around $880 in value with the card in the first year.

And though it comes with a decent earning rate, the additional perks and benefits are where this card really shines. Southwest card users will still get all the great perks that accompany every Southwest flight — including free checked bags and no change fees — and will also enjoy:

  • 6,000 anniversary points each year
  • Unlimited tier qualifying points (TQPs)
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases, travel and purchase protections
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year and more

But while this can be a rewarding card for frequent Southwest flyers, those who are less loyal to Southwest and would get more bang for their buck from a general travel rewards credit card should consider alternative options.

Sign-up bonus

While the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers an extremely generous sign-up bonus, it may be challenging for some cardholders to attain due to the spending requirement.

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

If you can reach the spending threshold, though, not only can this bonus put you well on your way to earning the Southwest Companion Pass, but those bonus points can also cover a round-trip fare to many destinations. Southwest now flies to Hawaii, so you could use this Southwest Visa card's sign-up bonus to purchase a round-trip ticket between Los Angeles and Honolulu in September. Even if you purchased Southwest’s new fare class called Wanna Get Away Plus — a step up from their base fare — you’d still have miles to leftover. The Plus category includes benefits like a transferable flight credit and same-day confirmed change and standby, among others.

Southwest Rapid Reward Premier card benefits and features
money icon

How much is it worth? Since Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth around $0.014 each, this bonus is worth about $700

Who is eligible to earn it? You're eligible to earn this bonus if you don't currently own any Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards and have not received a sign-up bonus within the last 24 months. Note that this will not apply for business credit cards or employee credit cards.

Earning rate

On the downside, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a pretty modest earning rate.

You can Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.

While frequent Southwest flyers may earn enough points on their purchases to justify the card's annual fee, 2x points per dollar is relatively low compared to what you can get with other cards.

For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® award a higher amount of bonus points on all types of travel, streaming, and dining purchases. Note that you can transfer points from either of these cards to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, and also redeem them for flights on other airlines.

Average rewards earned per $1 spent

We estimate an earning rate for the average consumer based on U.S. Bureau of Labor data and multiply that by the value of each card’s points or miles.

Redeeming rewards

On the plus side, Rapid Rewards points are straightforward and simple to redeem. In most cases, you're best off redeeming your points for Wanna Get Away tickets to get the best value.

While Wanna Get Away fares are nonrefundable and don't qualify for same-day changes or standby, fares are still reusable if you need to cancel. If you cancel or change your flight in advance, there are no change fees and the value of your ticket can be applied to future flights for up to 12 months.

Southwest fare classes

Business Select
Anytime
Wanna Get Away Plus
Wanna Get Away
  • Anytime benefits
  • Refundable
  • Priority boarding A1-A15
  • Complimentary premium drink (on flights 176 miles or more)
  • Earn 12X Rapid Rewards® points per dollar
  • Wanna Get Away Plus benefits
  • Refundable
  • EarlyBird Check-In
  • Priority and Express Lanes
  • Earn 10X Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • Wanna Get Away benefits
  • Non-refundable (flight credit if you cancel)
  • Transferable flight credit
  • Same-day confirmed change
  • Same-day standby list
  • Earn 8X Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • Non-refundable (flight credit if you cancel)
  • No change or cancellation fees
  • Two bags fly free
  • Earn 6X Rapid Rewards points per dollar

Earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass

All points earned with this card count towards earning the valuable Companion Pass. The Companion Pass allows you to bring a designated companion with you on any Southwest flight for an entire year – it’s free, except for the cost of taxes and fees. You’ll need 125,000 Rapid Rewards points or 100 one-way qualifying flights to qualify for the pass.

Southwest Companion Pass Tip

Focus your efforts on accumulating Rapid Rewards® points to earn the Southwest Companion pass.

Book flights with Southwest

Book travel with Rapid Rewards® partners

Anniversary bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card adds an extra incentive for loyal cardholders — you earn 6,000 bonus points each year on your cardmember anniversary. We value Rapid Rewards points at about 1.4 cents per point, making this anniversary bonus worth around $84 in Southwest airfare. Those points alone can make up for a good part of the card's annual fee.

Other Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card benefits

The Southwest Visa card's additional benefits offer an enormous amount of enhanced value for the card overall. Card members can enjoy the following perks:

  • Two EarlyBird Check-In®s per year: The card grants you complimentary EarlyBird Check-In® twice per year, which means you’ll get automatic check-in within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. It won’t guarantee a boarding position, but it does help you get closer to the front of the line — which means better seat choices and more overhead space — and relieves you from having to scramble to check in with everyone else. Southwest retails this benefit for $15 or more per check-in, so that's a value of at least $30 per year.
  • 25% back on in-flight purchases: When you make in-flight purchases using your card, such as paying for drinks and onboard Wi-Fi, you’ll receive 25% back as a statement credit, ultimately saving you money.
  • $0 foreign transaction fees: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a great option for international travel, since it doesn't charge a fee for foreign transactions.
  • Bags fly free: Though it's a benefit of Southwest Airlines rather than the card, it's worth noting that you never have to pay baggage fees when you fly Southwest.
  • No change fees: Another general benefit of flying on Southwest: You can change any reservation for no charge, including award tickets.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: The card covers lost or damaged luggage for you or an immediate family member, up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Reimburses you for baggage delays over six hours, up to $100 per day for three days.
  • Extended warranty protection: Extends the manufacturer's warranty on eligible warranties of three years of less by an additional year.
  • Purchase protection: Your purchases are covered for 120 days against theft or damage, up to $500 per claim and up to $50,00 per year.

Drawbacks

  • Sign-up bonus may be hard to attain: It may be difficult for some consumers to reach the spending threshold required to earn the sign-up bonus. So while the bonus offers an extremely high amount of points, you may not be able to spend enough on your card within the designated time frame to earn them.
  • $99 annual fee: While this annual fee is moderate compared to what other rewards credit cards charge, it's still an inconvenience to have to pay a fee every year simply to own your credit card. If you'd rather not pay an annual fee at all, there are plenty of other great no-annual-fee rewards cards to choose from instead.
  • Subpar rewards rate: Though this card's earning rate covers a wide variety of valuable spending categories, other travel rewards credit cards offer more points in their bonus categories. If this doesn't bother you, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can still be a solid choice.

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest flyers should take full stock of their travel credit card options, as other credit cards may be better suited to your needs. Here are some alternative options to consider:

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Annual Fee
$99
$69
$149
$95
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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Verdict: Most of the same benefits for a lower annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is very similar to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. It offers the same sign-up bonus, but a slightly lower earning rate: Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has three other main differences: a lower annual fee ($69), a smaller anniversary bonus (3,000 points compared to 6,000 points for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card) and a foreign transaction fee (3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars).

Since the difference in the cards' anniversary bonuses is about equal to the cards' annual fees, the value of the cards is basically the same. Consequently, you may be better off going with the lower fee Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card if you only intend to use it for domestic travel. However, if you want a card that you can use for international purchases, you should consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, since it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

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Verdict: The most rewarding of Rapid Rewards consumer cards

Though the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card charges a higher $149 annual fee, it's more rewarding than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. This is mainly due to the $75 annual credit toward Southwest purchases. If you purchase at least $75 in airfare with Southwest each year, the travel credit will recoup half the card's annual fee (bringing it down to $74). The card also offers a larger anniversary bonus of 7,500 points – 1,500 more points than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card's anniversary bonus (or about $21 more in value). These two benefits alone more than make up for the annual fee, making the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card the best value of the three Southwest cards.

In addition, cardholders qualify for upgraded boarding for four flights on Southwest airlines each year (when available). With this benefit, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could put you at the front of the line on your next Southwest flight.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Verdict: Better points earnings and more flexible redemption options

For a $95 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a much better option for Southwest frequent flyers and is a great travel card in general. The card rewards 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases. The 2X earning rate covers Southwest purchases, as well as any other type of travel purchase from any travel vendor. And, since Southwest is a Chase travel partner, you can transfer all the points that you earn into your Rapid Rewards account to redeem for Southwest flights. You can also transfer points to several other airline and hotel programs, or instead redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for a 25% redemption bonus (boosting your point value to 1.25 cents per point).

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also comes with great travel protections, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance and primary rental car insurance in the U.S. and abroad. For a similar price as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers much more.

Should you get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card?

Overall, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers plenty of benefits for a loyal Southwest flyer seeking to earn more Rapid Rewards points. The value of the 6,000-point anniversary bonus on its own covers most of the card's $99 annual fee. If you spend a few thousand dollars on Southwest airfare each year, the card's double-point bonus on Southwest purchases should help you earn an award ticket every year or two. Plus, if you're aiming to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, the card's sign-up bonus will put you well on the way to meeting the point threshold.

However, point maximizers should be aware that there are more valuable options for Southwest flyers, including the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. If you're looking to earn more points per dollar spent on your card or if you aren't particularly loyal to Southwest, you should consider a general travel rewards card that gives you more flexibility on the airlines you fly on instead.

Frequently asked questions

Does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card have an annual fee?

Yes, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card charges a $99 annual fee.

What credit score do you need for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card requires a 720 - 850 credit score. Be sure to check your score before applying to increase your chances of approval.

How much is 65,000 Southwest points worth?

Because we value Southwest points at around 1.4 cents per point, 65,000 Southwest points are worth about $910.

Do Southwest credit card holders get priority boarding?

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card holders don’t receive priority boarding — however, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Cardholders will get four upgraded boardings per year when available.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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