Why This Southwest Card Is a Solid Choice for Budget Travelers

Reyna GobelJul 9, 2019
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good option for travelers who fly Southwest Airlines regularly and are looking to fly for nearly free, whether on long-haul or short flights. Plus, with frequent traveling and spending on the card, you can earn enough miles for a Companion Pass.

Here are just a few reasons why this card is a solid option for the frequent budget traveler:

The sign-up bonus can be good for several flights

This card’s sign-up bonus is as follows: 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. Those bonus points could get you several flights from Oklahoma City to Dallas (just to name one example), or you could use it for any combination of flights ranging from trips to the Caribbean to adding a stopover on a trip to see an extra city. Look for Wanna Get Away fares, which offer the best value.

The annual fee is largely offset by anniversary points

The pain of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card’s $99 annual fee is tempered a bit by the fact that you get 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary. Assuming you'll use those points, the card can wind up mostly paying for itself.

You can also rack up points by using the card on paid Southwest tickets. Earnings rates vary from earning 6 to 12 points per dollar for the most expensive fares. Other purchases on the card also earn points, but at a less attractive value.

It gets you a (big) step closer to the Companion Pass

It takes earning 110,000 points in one calendar year to earn a Southwest Companion Pass (increasing to 125,000 in 2020), which allows a companion of your choosing to fly for just taxes and fees for a year or more depending on when you qualify. The bonus from this card counts toward the Companion Pass, as do points earned from spending on the card.

Depending on how often you'd travel with a companion, this perk can offer enormous value, so if this card's bonus would help get you over the top, it can be well worth your while to apply.

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:

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.