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.
In addition to low fares and award-winning customer service, Southwest offers each passenger two free checked bags and no change fees. It also consistently wins awards for its Rapid Rewards loyalty program and its co-branded credit cards.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a midrange annual fee of $99 and offers a nice array of perks. Here’s how to get the most out of it.
» Learn more: Why I love Southwest Airlines
Earn the welcome bonus
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers a good sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. Don't miss out on these points and make sure you have a plan to responsibly hit the minimum spending requirement.
Renew to get your anniversary bonus points
Get 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary each year just by renewing the card.
Nerdy tip: NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.6 cents each. When redeeming points, you could potentially get even more value based on the flight you choose.
Earn more points by using the card
Earn 2 points per dollar when you use your card to purchase Southwest flights. You’ll also earn 2 points per dollar when you book a hotel stay or rental car with a Rapid Rewards partner and pay with your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. 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 credit card can take you to any of Southwest Airlines’ more than 100 destinations. Most are in the United States, but there are also quite a few international destinations, including:
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%.
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.
Typically, to earn the Companion Pass, you’ll either need to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 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.
The limited-time sign-up bonus for your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card will already get you a Companion Pass.
Nerdy tip: Once you earn the Companion Pass, it’s valid for the rest of the year in which you qualified and the following calendar year. In other words, if you qualify for the pass in January, you’ll be able to use it for almost two years.
» Learn more: Southwest Rapid Rewards Program: The complete guide
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.
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 2021, 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