How to Maximize the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

This airline card can not only earn Rapid Rewards points, but also a companion pass and elite status.
Kendra Collins
By Kendra Collins 
Edited by Jeanette Margle
How to get the most from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card could be the key to earning the highly sought-after Southwest Companion Pass or perhaps your ticket to Southwest elite status. It won't entail any insane annual fees, and the perks are useful for nearly any Southwest travel, so you don't have to worry about whether you're getting enough value out of the perks. But even still, some cardholders will maximize the card better than others. You want to be the one who is out there maximally maximizing it.

Ever wonder why the stock market ticker symbol for Southwest Airlines is LUV? When it launched in the late 1960s, the company's theme was "love." Flight attendants wore themed uniforms and handed out "love potions" (drinks) and "love bites" (peanuts). Though times have changed, there’s still a lot to love about this friendly airline. And one of those things is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a midrange annual fee of $99 and offers a nice array of perks.

And with that, here are 7 ways to get the most out of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card .

Earn the welcome bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers a good sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Don't miss out on these points and make sure you have a plan to responsibly hit the minimum spending requirement.

After receiving your card, set up a calendar reminder a few weeks short of the welcome bonus deadline to ensure you've hit the spending requirement. If not, see if you can shift some payments that you might not normally pay with a credit card, such as rent, to your card just for this month to meet that minimum.

Renew to get your anniversary bonus points

Get 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary each year just by renewing the card. Given that NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.5 cents, that's just shy of the card's actual annual fee. If you'll use the Rapid Rewards points anyway, then it's not difficult to justify the card's $99 annual fee.

Earn more points by using the card

Earn 3 points per dollar when you use your Southwest credit card to purchase Southwest flights. That's on top of the points you already earn for booking a Southwest flight as a Rapid Rewards member.

You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar when you spend on commuting and local transit (including rideshares), as well as 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.

All other purchases made with your card will earn 1 point per dollar. You can rack up even more points by shopping at your favorite retailers through Southwest’s shopping portal.

Redeem points for Southwest flights

The points you earn with your Southwest credit card can take you to any of Southwest Airlines’ more than 100 destinations, including a growing list of Southwest flights to Hawaii. Most are in the United States, but there are also quite a few international destinations, with a huge presence of Southwest flights to the Caribbean. Its international destinations include:

  • Aruba.

  • Bahamas.

  • Belize.

  • Cayman Islands.

  • Costa Rica.

  • Dominican Republic.

  • Jamaica.

  • Mexico.

  • Turks and Caicos.

Want to travel internationally beyond those destinations? As a Rapid Rewards Credit Card holder, you can also redeem your Rapid Rewards points through the Southwest More Rewards program, which is a shopping portal where you can spend your points on items that aren’t Southwest flights. It's mostly physical stuff like designer handbags, baby strollers and gift cards, but you can even use it to book travel on many non-Southwest airlines, including international flights and hotels. Just run the numbers before spending your Rapid Rewards points through the More Rewards program. Based on our analysis of dozens of redemptions, we found that, on average, items are marked up by more than 100%, with international flights generally seeing a slightly-less-bad, but still brutal 50% markup.

Leverage the welcome bonus to earn a Companion Pass

The legendary Southwest Companion Pass is very nearly a buy one, get one free deal because it allows a guest to fly with you anytime for the only cost of mandatory taxes and fees, which start at $5.60 each way.

To earn the Companion Pass, you’ll either need to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. Qualifying points for the Companion Pass include points earned from buying Southwest tickets, points earned with Southwest credit cards and base points earned from select Rapid Rewards partners.

A Companion Pass is valid for the rest of the year in which you qualified and the following calendar year.

Get on the A-List

Elite flyer status with Southwest, called A-List status, comes with perks like priority boarding, priority check-in and security lane access and 25% more points when you fly Southwest. Your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can help you earn A-List status. For every $10,000 you charge to the card, you earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points, up to $100,000 in charges. You need 35,000 tier qualifying points to attain A-List status and this card can help you get there.

Editor's note: Southwest recently announced some significant changes coming to the Rapid Rewards program in 2024, including lower requirements for earning A-List status and a lower credit card spend requirement for earning bonus tier-qualifying points. Read more on that here.

Start flying — and continue to save money with few fees

In addition to low fares and award-winning customer service, Southwest offers each passenger two free checked bags and no change fees. While these benefits are certainly available to all passengers, you'll likely be more inclined to book travel with Southwest than competing airlines. And when you do, go ahead and check those bags and don't be afraid to cancel your flight. You'll get out of most common, pesky airline fees if you do.

The bottom line

With a solid sign-up bonus, yearly anniversary points and multiple ways to maximize your card benefits, here’s a lot to "luv" about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card for the casual Southwest flyer.

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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


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Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
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Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


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Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
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Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


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Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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