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Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card Right for Me?

Sept. 9, 2019
Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Deciding whether the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is right for you is simple means asking yourself a few key questions. Here are the aspects you should weigh to understand whether this card will be a smart addition to your wallet.

Is the sign-up bonus appealing to me? Will I earn it?

Here’s the current sign-up bonus offer on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.

NerdWallet values Rapid Rewards points between 1.5 cents and 3 cents each for Wanna Get Away fares, which is Southwest’s cheapest economy offering. This means your sign-up bonus could be worth anywhere from $600 to $1,800 toward airfare.

If you want the sign-up bonus, the next step is to think about whether you’ll earn it and how. Consider whether your regular spending will be enough to meet the threshold, or if you’ll need to plan some larger purchases during the required timeframe.

Do I mind paying the annual fee?

Some travel credit cards will waive their annual fee for the first year, but that’s not the case here. The annual fee for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is $99 from the very first billing cycle.

To make the card worth keeping, you’ll need to fly regularly with Southwest Airlines and plan to use this card for most of your purchases. While the 6,000-point anniversary bonus is a nice perk, you may need to earn additional rewards via spending to make the annual fee worth paying.

Will my spending earn me bonus points?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card only offers 2x points for purchases made through Southwest Airlines and its hotel and rental car partners. If you want a variety of categories for earning beyond 1 point per dollar, this isn’t the card for you.

Do I want to redeem points for economy flights instead of saving up for first class?

Unlike other large airlines, Southwest Airlines doesn’t offer first class travel. If you want to use points and miles for first class fares and upgrades, this card isn’t for you. In that case, you’d be better off with another airline credit card.

But if you want to be able to redeem your points for flights faster instead of saving up for swanky tickets, this card might be a good option. For instance, you couldn’t do much with the anniversary bonus of 6,000 points/miles on most other airlines. With Southwest, those points could go farther since reward prices are tied to the (relatively low) cost of cash fares. For example, we found plenty of award ticket options at or below 6,000 points for a one-way fare.

Will I earn the Companion Pass?

A big perk of carrying a Southwest credit card is the ability to earn points toward the coveted Companion Pass. Once you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points (from flying, spending on your card or even the sign-up bonus) in a calendar year, you’ll get the Companion Pass, which allows you to designate a person to travel with you for the cost of taxes and fees.

Without the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’d have to earn those 110,000 points mostly through travel. With earnings rates of 6 to 12 points per dollar on base fares, that means spending a minimum of $9,167 on Business Select fares in one calendar year.

However, putting your regular credit card spending and sign-up bonus toward the Companion Pass makes earning it much easier. And if you do go for the Companion Pass, the value you’ll gain from having it should more than make up for the $99 annual fee of your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

The bottom line

If you can answer the above questions confidently, then Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card might be right for you. Don’t think it’s a good fit? There are other Southwest cards you may want to consider, or you can look into other travel rewards card options if you want to use your points and miles differently.

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 2019, including those best for:

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

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