The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card allows airline-savvy travelers to earn 2 points per dollar spent on hotel and car rental partner purchases and 1 point on all other purchases. Southwest fans, rejoice. This card translates Southwest loyalty into quality travel rewards — plus, you’ll get the chance to unlock other perks like A-List status and free flights for a chosen travel companion with the Companion Pass.
|Card||Ongoing Purchase APR||Annual Fee||Intro Bonus||Credit Needed||Key features|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||17.49% - 24.49% Variable APR||$99||Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.||Good to Excellent||This airline rewards card allows cardholders to earn two points for every dollar spent on Southwest expenses and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner costs. Earn one point per dollar for everything else.|
What we like about it
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is an ideal airline card for those looking to maximize their Southwest rewards and leverage their pre-existing Southwest frequent flyer miles and loyalty. For example, you can use this card to work your way up to earning the Companion Pass, which gives your chosen companion a year of free flights, minus some fees, of course. The Southwest Rapid Rewards card is considered the middle ground of the three available Southwest Rapid Rewards card options and offers cardholders impressive annual loyalty bonuses and other helpful perks.
If you’re planning on traveling abroad, you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees adding to your final bill, for instance. Although Southwest doesn’t fly to a large variety of international locations like Europe, the airline does offer flights to places like Belize, Turks and Caicos and multiple cities within Mexico. With that said, Southwest will allow you to redeem your Rapid Rewards points for international flights on different airlines that offer them. Plus, there are no blackout dates or restrictions regarding your airplane seat choice to throw a wrench in your plans.
Another major benefit is the generous anniversary bonus of 6,000 points after you renew your card each year. In addition, you can earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for each $10,000 you spend on the card each calendar year, up to 15,000 points annually. These are called tier-qualifying points because they can help push you into different tiers, like A-List or A-List Preferred statuses, more quickly.
A-List members enjoy special perks like free same-day standby, dedicated A-List member phone line, priority boarding, 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned on each flight and priority check-in and security lane access.
Things to consider
One of the main drawbacks of this card includes the lack of luxury perks, but if you’re already a Southwest frequent flyer, you probably already expect as much. You also can’t stack the points you earn from another frequent flyer program, which is unfortunate if you’re not a through-and-through Southwest loyalist.
And, if you’re fee-averse, be aware, there is an annual fee you must pay that isn’t waived as part of any introductory offer. Although hefty annual fees characterize many travel credit cards, they also typically have more robust rewards structures or glamorous perks that allow cardholders the opportunity to cancel out the annual fee. There are still perks that can offset the cost, but it’s essential to keep that in mind as you evaluate if the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card will work for you.
You also don’t receive free checked bags, as many other airline cards do. With that said, your first two checked bags on Southwest are already free anyway, so that perk is moot unless you were hoping for a third free bag check.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card travel rewards
To make the most of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you should consider what you’re getting in return with your earning rate. The 2x points on Southwest expenses purchases mean you’re receiving 3% back on Southwest purchases.
You can redeem the points you earn in the form of merchandise, gift cards, rental cars, travel experience and hotels. However, the easiest way to redeem your rewards is by grabbing the next flight out of town. Southwest makes it easy for cardholders to redeem their points for flights, which is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card fees
The only fee cardholders will need to worry about is the annual membership fee of $99. There are no foreign transaction fees, either, so regardless of what airline you take to visit Europe or the Caribbean, you can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted.
How does it compare to other airline cards?
The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card is another airline-specific rewards card but features a lower annual fee of $75. Benefits include a 40,000 bonus mile offer plus Alaska’s Companion Fare Offer, which costs just $121. To receive this reward, you’ll need to spend $2,000 within the first three months after your initial account activation. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper annual fee and prefer Alaska over Southwest, you may want to consider this card as an alternative. You also earn at a slightly higher rate: three miles for every $1 spent on eligible Alaska Airlines expenses.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another airline option with a similar $95 annual fee. However, there’s a massive bonus available. With this card, cardmembers can earn more points on travel and dining at restaurants plus travel protection benefits. If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of your account activation earn 60,000 bonus points. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a good option if you don’t want to stick to one particular airline, and you’d like more flexibility with your travel rewards.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for luxury travel perks, this may not be the right travel rewards credit card for you. But if you’re already a no-frills Southwest frequent flyer, you can quickly earn points and make your next vacation a little cheaper with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
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