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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is currently offering the following sign-up bonus: Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
If you’re considering applying for this card but wouldn’t normally spend enough to meet that threshold, you’ll have to think ahead to make sure you'll be able to do so, especially given that the card has a $99 annual fee. Your strategy should set you up for long-term success, which might include working toward the Southwest Companion Pass.
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Start with the categories where you earn bonus points
To get the most out of any rewards credit card, start by taking advantage of the category bonuses. For the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, that means earning 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases, as well as hotels and rental cars from Rapid Rewards partners. (You’ll earn these points on top of any points you might earn as a Rapid Rewards program member.)
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
One way you could earn your sign-up bonus: Take a trip during your first few months with the new card. For example, you'd get halfway to the minimum spending requirement by flying once for $250, staying two nights in a hotel for $200, and renting a car for two days at $50. (Don't plan a trip solely to get the bonus, of course, since you can easily spend more money than the bonus is actually worth.)
Here’s a list of Rapid Rewards partner vendors that may be useful in your trip planning if you’re interested in earning double points right off the bat:
Pick additional categories and items for spending
If you decide to plan a trip during your first few months with the card, add up those expenses to see how much you still need to spend to earn the sign-up bonus. Then, pick categories where you have a good idea of how much you spend each month.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
For example, maybe you buy a coffee and a biscotti at the same place every morning five days a week. That could add up to $120 per month. If you count on spending that $360 across three months, it will add up to a large part of your minimum spending requirement on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
Next, look for other categories with predictable spending. For instance, if you know your electric bill is at least $100 monthly, then you can count on completing $300 in spending requirements from that over the three-month period.
Between electricity, coffee and biscotti, you’d have at least $660 toward the minimum spending requirement. This should be enough if you also took a trip as mentioned above — but you might also need to use the card for your cell phone bill, lunches or gym membership.
» Learn More: Southwest Rapid Rewards Program: The Complete Guide
Mark dates to check your spending totals on a calendar
If you don’t complete the minimum spending requirement, you won’t get even a single point of your sign-up bonus. So make sure you're clear on the amount you need to spend, and the deadline you need to spend it by. Check your progress regularly on your online account.
Pick a day each month to pay your bill, and a day each week to check on your account activity. (If you make a payment on your card too frequently, it will get harder to track your total spending during this period.) If you aren’t spending enough to meet the sign-up bonus requirement, checking in regularly will give you a chance to make changes before it’s too late.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies