The Bottom Line: The rewards are similar to other airline cards, 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.
- 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.
Pros & Cons
No foreign transaction fees
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
Alternate Pick: No Annual Fee
Compare to Other Cards
$0 for the first year, then $95
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
17.99% - 25.24% Variable APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
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: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
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.
NerdWallet values Southwest points at an average of 1.7 cents each when redeemed for Southwest flights. You can also apply points toward hotel stays, rental cars, international flights on other airlines, merchandise, gift cards, and travel experiences like cruises and spa packages.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
Anniversary bonus of 6,000 points every 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 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 of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
SOLID sign-up bonus
New cardholders get a nice sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Depending on how you use those points, that could be enough for a couple of round-trip tickets. The bonus also gives you a great head start on the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass.
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.
Nerd 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. (The checked-bag fee for other major airlines generally is $25 to $30 per bag each way.)
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. One way to get the pass is to earn 110,000 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, up to 15,000 points a year.
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. Read more about qualifying for these benefits.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Drawbacks and alternatives
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.
Limited bonus rewards
With the exception of select travel spending, you're not going to earn more than 1 point per dollar. 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 at 1 cent apiece to cover a range of travel expenses.
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, up to four upgraded boardings a year and a 20% discount on in-flight purchases. It also has a heftier annual fee: $149.
Here's a look at how all three of the Southwest consumer cards compare:
Should you 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 an outstanding top-of-wallet card.
on Chase's website
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