CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSSOUTHWEST PREMIER CREDIT CARD REVIEW: LOYALTY IS REWARDING

Southwest Premier Credit Card Review: Loyalty Is Rewarding

This card's bonuses — both when you open your account and every year afterward — give you a head start on free travel. You'll earn 3X points on Southwest purchases, too.
Claire Tsosie Author Avatar
Feb 29, 2024 10:11 a.m. PST
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3.9

NerdWallet rating
The bottom line:

Ongoing rewards are decent, and the annual bonus is superb, but you can forget about perks. Of course, if you're a Southwest loyalist, you're probably not into frills anyway.

Pros
  • Anniversary perk
  • No reward caps
Cons
  • Has annual fee
  • Rewards have limited flexibility
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Image
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee

$99

Regular APR

21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec. credit score

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$99

Regular APR

21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

Apply Now
on Chase's website
on Chase's website
  • Annual fee

    $99

  • Rewards rate

    1x-3x

  • Bonus offer

    Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    $0

More details from Chase
  • Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$99
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$149
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$69
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
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Detailed review: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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 ongoing benefits, including a generous anniversary bonus, let you earn free flights faster. 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. And unlike its cheaper sibling card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Basics

Card type: Airline.

Annual fee: $99.

Sign-up bonus: Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases.

  • 2 points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.

  • 2 points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.

  • 2 points per dollar spent on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming.

  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.5 cents or more in value from your Southwest points.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Other benefits:

  • Anniversary bonus of 6,000 points every cardmember year.

  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.

  • 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card each calendar year, with no limit on the amount you can earn. Tier-qualifying points help you reach A-List or A-List Preferred status faster. Other points you earn won't help you qualify for these statuses.

Calculate your rewards

To see if the rewards you'd earn on this card would make up for the annual fee, try our calculator:

Benefits and perks

Solid sign-up bonus

New cardholders get a nice sign-up bonus: Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Anniversary bonus

This card automatically gives you 6,000 bonus points on every cardmember anniversary. You don't have to meet any spending requirement to earn this bonus. Depending on how you redeem your points, the bonus alone could give you enough value to cover the card's annual fee.

No foreign transaction fees

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 travel. Though Southwest mostly flies domestic, it does offer service to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (and, of course, you're free to take the card with you abroad regardless of which airline you fly). 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.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Southwest Airlines credit cards don't offer free checked bags as many airline credit cards do, but your first two checked bags already are free with Southwest.

Fast track to Companion Pass and A-List status

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:

  • Companion Pass: This pass lets one companion fly with you for free (except for taxes or fees) whenever you purchase or redeem points for a trip. The way to get it is to earn 135,000 qualifying points in a year. All points earned with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, including sign-up and anniversary bonuses, count toward the pass.

  • A-List status: This gets you priority check-in, free same-day standby if you want to fly out earlier on the day of your scheduled flight, a 25% points bonus when purchasing eligible Southwest flights, and other benefits. You can qualify for the status by earning 35,000 "tier-qualifying points" in a calendar year. Ordinarily, the only way to earn tier-qualifying points is by actually flying Southwest. But the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card gives you 1,500 of these points for every $10,000 you spend, with no cap.

  • A-List Preferred status: This gets you A-List perks, free in-flight Wi-Fi on equipped planes and a 100% points bonus when purchasing eligible Southwest flights (rather than just a 25% bonus). You can qualify for A-List Preferred by earning 70,000 tier-qualifying points in a calendar year; the tier-qualifying points you earn with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card apply to this status, too.

With both Companion Pass and A-List/A-List Preferred status, once you earn them, they're good for the rest of the calendar year and the whole next year.

Drawbacks and considerations

Annual fee isn't waived the first year

Many airline cards with comparable annual fees waive the 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 point transfers

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 $95. Just keep in mind that points earned with this card and then transferred to Southwest don't count toward the Companion Pass or A-List status.

No premium benefits

Unlike some comparable airline cards in its price range, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card doesn't offer much in the way of premium benefits. However, the airline's top-tier offering, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with an array of perks, including $75 in annual travel credit and up to four upgraded boardings a year. It also has a heftier annual fee: $149.

Here's a look at how all three of the Southwest consumer cards compare:

Empty Table Header

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Annual fee

$149.

$99.

$69.

Rewards on Southwest purchases

3 points per $1 spent.

3 points per $1 spent.

2 points per $1 spent.

Rewards on other spending

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on local transit, rideshares, internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Limited-time offer: Earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Anniversary bonus

Earn 7,500 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earn 6,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earn 3,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.

Earns tier qualifying points?

Yes (unlimited).

Yes (unlimited).

No.

Foreign transaction fees

None.

None.

3%.

Boarding perks

4 upgraded boardings per year when available.

2 EarlyBird check-ins per year.

2 EarlyBird check-ins per year.

Southwest travel credit

$75 per year.

None.

None.

See how this card compares with offerings from other airlines by checking out our top airline cards page. For other rewards card options, see our roundup of the best credit cards of all types.

Alternate Pick: More flexible rewards
Elevated earning in popular categories

Earn bonus rewards on travel and at restaurants. Those points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, and you can also transfer points to partner airlines, including Southwest.

How to decide if it's right for you

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 an outstanding top-of-wallet card.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

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