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If you primarily fly Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a great travel rewards card. Not only does it come with a welcome bonus, but you continue to earn automatic bonuses every year you stay a member.
» Learn More: Southwest Rapid Rewards Program: The Complete Guide
Here’s what you need to know about this card.
The welcome bonus
Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.
The bonus points continue
Every year you continue to earn 6,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary. You also earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest® and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. In addition, you can earn points by purchasing from shopping, dining, home, and lifestyle partners.
Always remember, any points you earn from flights add additional points. So if you purchased a round-trip ticket that’s 5,000 miles flown for $250, you’d earn 5,500 points. Other purchases earn $1 per point. You are also given 1,500 tier-qualifying points per $10,000 spent each calendar year that can help you increase your status level with Southwest Airlines.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
No foreign transaction fees
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card doesn't have foreign transaction fees. If you travel quite a bit out of the country, then you know how much those fees can add to the cost of your trip. Fees are generally 3%.
Bags fly free
Other credit cards offer the first bag checked free. However, the first and second checked bag not incurring a charge is actually a perk Southwest Airlines offers all its travelers. No one pays change fees either.
If you change your flight, you’re just liable for the fare difference. On tickets where points are redeemed, there are no blackout dates or restrictions. Any seat is eligible for rewards travel.
The Companion Pass
Imagine earning a free pass for someone to travel with you every time you fly. It’s not easy, but it can be done if you fly and spend a lot. It takes earning 110,000 points to get the required status level (125,000 starting in 2020), but these can be earned from credit card points, partner points and flights. Once earned, you’ll have the Companion Pass privilege for the remainder of the year, as well as the year following.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
The annual fee is easy to make up
The $99 annual fee kicks in during the first year; however, the bonus points essentially make up for it since NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.4 cents each.
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:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: 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: Southwest Rapid Rewards program: The complete guide When flying Southwest can save you money and time 4 things the Southwest Rapid Rewards program gets right