Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card review: A good value for frequent Southwest travelers
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
CardRatings Editor's Analysis: Pros & Cons
- Earn 40,000 bonus points by spending $1,000 in the first three months.
- A nice 6,000-point bonus after your card member anniversary means the bonuses don't end with the introductory offer.
- Earn three points on all Southwest purchases and two points on purchases some everyday categories.
- The annual fee applied on your first statement is a bummer, especially given that many travel rewards cards waive that fee during the first year.
If you are a frequent Southwest Airlines passenger or are looking to take advantage of some of the great benefits of their travel rewards program, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card could be a great addition to your wallet. And for those who have their eye on earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass®, the Premier card's signup bonus could put that prize a bit closer to your reach.
For those who already fly with Southwest often or are looking to utilize some of Southwest's benefits like included checked bags flying for free and no change fees on flights, the initial welcome offer for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can get you well on your way to your next reward flight. New cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. As rewards flight redemptions have no blackout dates and no seat restrictions, those points can be extremely valuable to those looking to travel to one of the many domestic or international destinations that Southwest serves.
Importantly, all those points count toward earning a Companion Pass.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card earns three points per $1 on Southwest purchases; two points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshares) and on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services; and one point per $1 on other eligible purchases.
This card is similar to many airline specific credit cards in that it earns bonus points for qualified spend with the airline and its partners but it also offers bonus points in some other common categories as well. Obviously, to really maximize your points earning with the Premier card, be strategic with the purchases you use it for.
ANNUAL POINTS BONUS
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers members a great incentive to hold on to their cards for many years after their initial sign up. The Premier card earns 6,000 bonus points after your card member anniversary, which can be redeemed for flights or any of the other available redemption options.
EARLYBIRD CHECK-IN® OPPORTUNITIES
Given Southwest's "no assigned seat" structure, getting on the plane first can mean the difference between your ideal aisle seat and being stuck in the middle. Premier cardholders can breathe a little easier for a couple of trips each year thanks to two EarlyBird Check-Ins® annually.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
- Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase-or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
- Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
- No foreign transaction fees
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a number of travel and purchase protections to help in the event that you have issues while traveling. The Premier card has included auto rental collision coverage, roadside dispatch coverage, lost luggage insurance for you and your immediate family, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance. For many of your travel related hiccups, the Premier card has you covered.
And, while perhaps not as big of a deal as the protections and benefits mentioned already, this card does offer your 25% off your Southwest in-flight purchases of things like beverages and WiFi.
SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS®
Rapid Rewards® points earned by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card on everyday purchases, welcome bonuses, and annual bonuses are applied towards status earning for the Southwest Companion Pass®, which is one of the most valuable travel reward perks available today. The Companion Pass® allows you to add on a companion to Southwest flights booked directly with the airline, either paid fare or rewards flights, for only the taxes and fees.
To earn a Southwest Companion Pass®, you have to fly 100 one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. If you were trying to earn a Companion Pass®, the Premier card can be helpful in getting you on your way with the initial welcome bonus offer and the everyday Rapid Rewards® points earning potential. Check out our "Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass" to learn more.
SOUTHWEST RAPID REWARDS® PREMIER CARD FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card you don't have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees, allowing you to make purchases internationally without concern for incurring extra costs. This benefit can add up quickly for those who travel internationally frequently. Usually, cards that have foreign transaction fees charge a flat 3% for every purchase made outside of the continental United States. For your hiking tour through South America, if you spend $4,000 on international purchases, you could be adding on an additional $120 in fees alone if you were to make those purchases with a card that charges a foreign transaction fee.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the $99 annual fee. When you receive your first billing statement, the annual fee is added. There isn't an introductory year offer, so this is noteworthy as some airline rewards credit cards waive the fee during an introductory period. The welcome offer for new cardholders easily offsets this fee though, and the extra 6,000 points you'll receive each year moving forward certainly helps too.
Now a few drawbacks to this card aren't specific to the card itself, but are more generally for Southwest Airlines. If you are someone that prefers luxury amenities and seating, Southwest may not be the airline for you. There is no first class or business class to reserve when you feel like resting your traveling soul. However, if you're a frequent traveler or someone just trying to get from point A to B in an efficient way, Southwest offers amenities that many of its competitors do not including up to two free checked bags and no premium seating charges.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card
If you are looking for a card with a slightly lower annual fee but still want to earn points that count towards the Southwest Companion Pass, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card could be a great alternative. The Plus card earns the same new cardholder bonus as the Premier card but with an annual fee of $69 vs. $99 for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card. The ongoing rewards are slightly different, however, with the Plus card earning two points per $1 on Southwest purchases (vs. three points for the Premier card). The other earning rates are the same (two points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshares) and on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming and one point per $1 on other eligible purchases).
Though the annual fee is lower, the Plus card has some drawbacks in comparison to the Premier card. The anniversary bonus is only 3,000 points compared to the 6,000 points earned by the Premier card. Also, the Premier card has the ability to earn tier qualifying points for A-list and A-list preferred status on credit card spend, while the Plus card does not earn tier qualifying points. For a card with many similar perks and benefits, the Rapid Rewards® Plus card is a great lower annual fee alternative to the Premier card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the premium option in the Rapid Rewards® lineup of cards. The card earns the same spend rate as the Premier card and has the same new cardholder bonus. They both also offer 25% back on in-flight purchases.
Where the Priority card sets itself apart is in additional travel perks. These perks include an annual $75 Southwest travel credit and four upgraded boardings per year. With those additional perks, the Priority card also has a higher annual fee than the Premier card at $149 vs. $99.
The annual anniversary bonus of 7,500 points is higher though than the Premier's 6,000.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives cardholders the ability to earn Ultimate Rewards® points that can be redeemed for a variety of options including transferring to travel partners. The Sapphire Preferred® Card is currently offering new cardholders 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening which is equivalent to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
As Southwest airlines is a travel partner of Chase, these points can be transferred to Southwest (or any of their travel partners) to be redeemed for award travel. However, if transferred to an existing Southwest account, these points cannot be used toward earning a Southwest Companion Pass.
The true value of this card is its flexibility, as well as the fact that points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, the card 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point on all other purchases.
Yes, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good card; however, if you are already a Southwest frequent traveler or are looking to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, this is a great card. With competitive points earning and redemption options, the Premier card certainly has a lot of benefits. Some things to keep in mind when considering this card include the annual fee and Southwest's service network not including every major airport. If you don't mind an annual fee and can fly Southwest with some regularity, the Premier card could be a great addition to your wallet.