Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Review: Worth the Annual Fee?

If you’re a frequent Southwest customer, this card might be worth the annual fee.
Last updated Mar 10, 2020 | By Miranda Marquit

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Finding the right travel rewards card is always a challenge. If you show loyalty to a particular airline, though, and you want to benefit, getting a branded credit card can be a smart move.

If you fly Southwest on a regular basis, you might benefit from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. With the ability to earn extra points, receive bonus points each year, and more quickly earn a Southwest Companion Pass, this card can help you earn free Southwest flights faster.

This Southwest Premier Credit Card review will help you decide if this is the right credit card for you.

Hot Sign-up Bonus

Benefits

  • 40,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 6,000 points every year on Cardmember anniversary
  • 2X points on eligible Southwest purchases
  • No blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

  • Has annual fee
  • No luxury perks


Who should get this card?

In general, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for those who frequently travel using Southwest. With the help of this card, it’s also possible to reach A-List Status faster, allowing you priority boarding and check-in as well as 25% more Rapid Rewards points for each flight. For those who fly frequently using Southwest, this can add to the convenience.

For consumers who don’t fly Southwest very often, this card probably won’t be as good a choice. You’re more likely to earn double points on Southwest and with Southwest hotel and rental car partners, so if you’re not brand loyal, consider another travel credit card.

Additionally, this credit card isn’t for those wanting luxury perks, like access to airline lounges or the ability to upgrade to business class. Southwest is fairly utilitarian, so those who fly this airline are more concerned with an efficient way to get from one place to another.

If you want a better chance of qualifying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, you need good to excellent credit. For those who meet the requirements and want to enhance their Southwest travel experience, this credit card can be a solid choice.

Card basics

Annual Fee $99
Intro Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Recommended Credit Score Excellent, Good
Foreign Transaction Fee None

Top card benefits

No Southwest Premier Card review would be complete without a look at the top available card benefits. Here’s what you can expect if you get this credit card.

  • Generous sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Anniversary bonus points: After your cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive 6,000 bonus points. These points can be used each year to help you reach different goals and also help you redeem for flights and other rewards.
  • Achieve A-List Status faster: It takes 35,000 tier qualifying points to reach A-List Status each year, and having this credit card could help you earn that status faster. With A-List Status, you can enjoy Priority check-in and boarding, earn 25% more Rapid Rewards points for each trip, and even get free same-day standby.
  • No foreign transaction fees: When you make purchases in other countries using your Southwest Premier Credit Card, you don’t have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees, as the card doesn’t charge any.
  • Earn a Companion Pass faster: Points earned from the sign-up bonus count toward the 125,000 points you need to qualify for a Companion Pass, which allows you to bring someone along with you for free (minus taxes and fees). With the ability to earn double points on Southwest purchases, as well as purchases with partner rental car companies and hotels, this card can help you get a free ticket for a fellow traveler a bit faster.

Earning & redeeming

Next up, earning and redeeming rewards. Unlike some other travel credit cards, there aren’t many special perks offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, and earning and redemption is fairly straightforward.

Best ways to earn

The best way to earn Rapid Rewards points with this card is to use it for purchases on Southwest, including buying airfare. On top of that, you can earn double points at hotel and rental car partners, which include brands like Choice Hotels, Best Western, Radisson, World of Hyatt, Alamo, Payless, Avis, Hertz, and more.

Basically, if you travel often enough and use your Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier to pay for it, you can earn points at a faster pace. Once you reach A-List Status (35,000 tier qualifying points), you can boost your reward earnings on Southwest purchases by getting 25% more points when you use your card.

Categories Rewards rate
Southwest purchases 2X
Southwest hotel and rental car partners 2X
All other spending 1X

Maximizing your redemptions

To truly maximize rewards, your best bet is to redeem points for Southwest flights and Companion Pass airfare if you’re able to earn it. You can also redeem your rewards for gift cards and merchandise, but the point value isn’t as high.

For example, you can redeem points for a $25 gift card for 3,000 points, making the award worth less than one cent per point. On the other hand, you might be able to redeem a $343 ticket for 23,849 points, making each point worth around 1.44 cents.

Common questions

Before deciding if the card is right for you, here are answers to some of the most common questions asked about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

What are the benefits of having a Southwest credit card?

The main benefits of a Southwest credit card are related to loyalty for the brand. You can use the Premier and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority cards to reach A-List Status faster, as well as get closer to earning a Companion Pass.

There are other Southwest cards as well, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, which can help you earn points toward award flights. If you frequently fly Southwest, using any of their branded cards can help you earn award flights faster.

How much is 50,000 Southwest points worth?

Depending on the fare you choose, Southwest points are worth differing amounts. However, if you assume that a point is worth about 1.4 cents, 50,000 points is worth about $700 in Southwest flights. There are times, though, that a Southwest point might be worth as much as 1.6 cents or higher, depending on the time of the flight and the type of fare you get.

Is the Southwest Premier Card worth it?

In general, whether the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is worth it depends on your own situation and needs. If you travel Southwest regularly and can earn points quickly with eligible partners as well as on Southwest flights, the card can be well worth the annual fee.

Other cards to consider

If you’re looking for more general travel rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards both offer the chance to earn and redeem travel rewards — but without being loyal to a single airline.

These two cards also offer bonus perks, like Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, which isn’t available with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Plus, in the case of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the annual fee is waived the first year.

Hot Sign-up Bonus

Special Offer

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
  • 50,000 bonus mile welcome offer
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fees