Southwest Premier Credit Card Review: The Ultimate Guide
Earn 2 points per dollar spent with Southwest and its partners and 1 point per dollar elsewhere, plus an anniversary bonus every year.
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
Alternate Pick: No Annual Fee
Pros & Cons
- No foreign transaction fees
- Anniversary bonus
- No blackout dates or seat restrictions
- No luxury perks
- Can't stack points from other frequent flyer programs
- Has annual fee, not waived for the first year
recommended credit score
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card succeeds where most budget airline credit cards fail: It gives you reasons to stay loyal.
This card’s generous ongoing perks, including an anniversary bonus, let you earn free flights faster. And if you spend a lot on Southwest flights, it could help you qualify for A-List status and the airline’s coveted Companion Pass faster, too. Unlike its sibling card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Key features of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Here are some fast facts about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card:
- Sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
- Annual fee: $99
- Foreign transaction fees: None
- Ongoing rewards:
- 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Other benefits:
- Anniversary bonus of 6,000 points every new cardmember year
- 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card each calendar year, up to 15,000 annually. Tier-qualifying points help you reach A-List or A-List Preferred status faster. Other points you earn may count toward a Companion Pass or free flights, but they won’t help you qualify for these statuses.
To find out if the rewards you’d earn on this card would make up for the annual fee, check out our calculator.
Where the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card shines
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers valuable benefits, including:
Huge sign-up bonus. This card comes with a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. That’s worth $400 when redeemed for Southwest flights, according to NerdWallet’s valuations — possibly enough to cover airfare for your next vacation. It also gets you within spitting distance of qualifying for the airline’s Companion Pass. More on that later.
Anniversary bonus. This card automatically gives you 6,000 bonus points — worth about $60, according to NerdWallet’s valuations — on every cardmember anniversary. You don’t have to meet a spending requirement to earn this bonus.
No foreign transaction fees. Unlike its sibling card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card doesn’t charge you extra when you’re making purchases abroad. That makes it an excellent pick for international travelers. Though Southwest mostly flies domestic, it does offer service to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Another goodie for globe-trotters: You can use Southwest’s More Rewards platform to book international flights to other destinations through partner airlines with points.
A way to earn the Companion Pass and A-List status faster. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is especially valuable for Southwest diehards, because it puts them on the fast track to Southwest’s sought-after loyalty benefits:
To find out whether this card might help you qualify for these benefits faster, given your spending, take this quiz:
What to know about the Rapid Rewards program
Southwest points are worth an average of 1 cent each when redeemed for Southwest flights, according to NerdWallet’s valuations. As you can see in the graph below, that’s a little low when compared with some other frequent flyer programs. But Southwest points are generally easier to redeem than those from other airlines, because Southwest doesn’t limit availability for those booking with points.
You can also earn tier-qualifying points — that is, points that help you eventually qualify for A-List status — directly through Southwest when you buy fares for yourself (though you won’t earn these points for purchasing fares for other travelers). The number of points you’ll earn on personal fares varies, depending on which fare type you purchase:
- Wanna Get Away — 6 points per dollar spent
- Anytime — 10 points per dollar spent
- Business Select — 12 points per dollar spent
Say you buy a Wanna Get Away fare with your card. You’ll earn 2 bonus points per dollar spent on the purchase through your card as well as an additional 6 tier-qualifying points per dollar spent through Southwest. All in all, that’s an effective 8% rewards rate — an excellent return.
Where the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card falls short
Before applying, consider these pitfalls.
The annual fee isn’t waived the first year. Most airline cards waive the annual fee in the first year, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers no such break. After you’re approved for the card, you’ll be billed for the $99 annual fee right away.
No luxury benefits. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a no-nonsense card. It won’t give you premium benefits, such as lounge access or reimbursement for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.
No flat-rate rewards. Earning rewards is easier when you don’t have to worry about bonus categories. If you’re looking for a more robust rewards rate and are less concerned about loyalty, try the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. It offers an impressive 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and comes with an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95. The miles can be redeemed to cover a range of travel expenses.
No transferable points. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you can’t transfer rewards to other loyalty programs. If you’re looking for more flexibility, try the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card instead. On top of a generous sign-up bonus, it also offers 1:1 transfers to several loyalty programs, including Southwest. The annual fee is Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Just keep in mind that the points you earn through this card don’t count toward the Companion Pass or A-List status.
Interested in learning more about other potential travel card options? Check out our top credit cards page.
Should I get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card isn’t a good fit for infrequent travelers or those looking for more versatile rewards. But if you frequently fly on Southwest and travel abroad, it’s a top-of-wallet card.
NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.