Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review [2024]: Worth the Annual Fee?

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
This co-branded card offers substantial benefits to Southwest travelers but lacks certain perks. This Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier review will help you decide if it's the card for you.
Updated April 9, 2024
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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can be a great fit for frequent travelers, especially those who feel that Southwest is the best airline to fly due to their baggage policy and lack of change fees.

Using this credit card, you could benefit from the ability to earn a welcome offer in the form of Rapid Rewards points, receive anniversary bonus points, and get closer to earning a Southwest Companion Pass.

Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks of this credit card in our Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card review.

In this Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card review

Key takeaways

  • The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers substantial benefits to frequent Southwest Airlines travelers, including a generous welcome offer, the ability to earn Rapid Rewards on purchases, and anniversary bonus points.
  • This credit card could be a good fit for you if you fly with Southwest and want to maximize your rewards on Southwest purchases and with Southwest hotel and car rental partners.
  • The credit card is not ideal for those seeking luxury travel perks, such as lounge access or business class upgrades, and may not be suitable for infrequent Southwest travelers.
  • The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has an annual fee of $99, but it offers benefits like no foreign transaction fees, a boost toward Southwest Companion Pass, and a DashPass subscription.

Who should get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for those who frequently travel using Southwest and want to fly Southwest using points. 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 Southwest 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 Airlines very often, this card probably won’t be as good a choice. Your best opportunity to earn bonus points with this card is on Southwest purchases and with Southwest hotel and rental car partners, so if you’re not brand loyal, consider a different travel credit card.

Additionally, this credit card isn’t for those wanting luxury perks, such as 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.

Keep in mind

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

Card basics

Card type Travel
Credit card issuer Chase
Credit card network Visa
Annual fee $99
Welcome offerEarn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Reward rate 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None

Why we like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: benefits and perks

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 welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Elevated rewards for Southwest purchases: With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, you can earn 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; plus 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Anniversary bonus points: After your cardmember anniversary, you’ll receive 6,000 bonus anniversary points. These points can be used each year to help you reach different goals and also help you redeem for flights and other rewards.
  • Faster A-List Status: It takes 35,000 tier qualifying points (TQPs) to reach A-List Status each year. Having this credit card could help you reach that status faster, as you earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent on purchases every year.

Tip
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.

  • Faster Southwest Companion Pass: You will receive a boost of 10,000 qualifying points for the Southwest Companion Pass every year. In addition, the points you earn from this card’s welcome offer and rewards rate count toward the 135,000 qualifying points required within a calendar year to earn the pass. The Companion Pass allows you to bring someone along with you — excluding taxes and fees.
  • Complimentary EarlyBird check-in: Receive up to two EarlyBird check-ins per year that help you get a better boarding position and earlier access to overhead bins.
  • 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.
  • DoorDash benefits: Receive a complimentary 12-month DashPass subscription if you activate by Dec. 31, 2024. DashPass benefits include $0 delivery fees for orders over $12.
  • What we don't like about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: drawbacks

    • Annual fee: Though it's not a large fee, cardholders will have to pay $99 each year.
    • No luxury perks: If you're looking for a list of travel benefits, then this card will not be a good fit for you. Instead, you may want to consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, which comes with an annual travel credit and upgraded boardings.
    • No intro balance transfer offer: This is primarily a travel card, not a balance transfer credit card. So if you are looking to get out of credit card debt without incurring interest charges, this card would not be a good fit for you.

    Earning & redeeming Rapid Rewards points

    Potential earnings in years one and two

    Here's a look at how your Southwest Rapid Rewards can add up with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1.4 cents per point, based on the average redemption value achieved by the award travel community.

    Remember, this is an estimation. The actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories you spend.

    Year one earnings: $1,322

    Year two earnings: $706

    These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which takes a look at points earned via spending, the welcome bonus, and the annual fee. 

    For this particular card, the assumption is that the "travel" spending did not include any Southwest Airlines purchases or take advantage of the 2X rewards rate on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming. Of course, with this card you are likely to book with Southwest and its hospitality partners. So your earnings in your first year and second year would potentially be much higher than what is projected here.

    Best ways to earn

    The best way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points with this card is to use it for purchases on Southwest, including buying airfare. On top of that, you can earn bonus points for hotel stays with certain hospitality partners and car rental partner purchases. This includes brands such as 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 3X
    Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming 2X
    All other purchases 1X

    Maximizing your redemptions

    Southwest Rapid Rewards points don't transfer to any other loyalty programs. To truly maximize rewards, your best bet is to redeem points for Southwest flights. Depending on the kind of traveler you are, the Southwest Companion Pass could save you thousands of dollars in a single year. And since the Southwest check-in process and boarding policy don't allow for seat assignments, you don't have to worry about seat restrictions when you book award travel.

    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.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card FAQ

    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 combine the welcome offers for the Premier and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card to reach A-List Status faster and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

    There are other Southwest cards as well, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, 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 are 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 are 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.

    Which Southwest credit card is best?

    The credit card issuer Chase and Southwest Airlines have come together to offer a variety of credit card products. But the answer to which is the best Southwest credit card will be different for each traveler. 

    It depends on which travel perks you prefer and if you are okay with paying an annual fee. You should compare Southwest credit cards before you decide, or even consider having more than one.

    Don't forget that Southwest also offers business credit cards. The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers a very generous welcome bonus as well as travel perks that frequent Southwest travelers will benefit greatly from.

    Other cards to consider

    If an airline credit card feels too restrictive to you and you’re looking for more general travel rewards cards, there are a couple of other credit card offers that you might consider.

    Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card will benefit from trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, and primary auto rental collision damage waivers. In addition, Southwest Airlines is a Chase transfer partner, so you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points and use them for Southwest airfare.

    Learn more in our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

    The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers cardholders a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee statement credit, an extended warranty on purchases, travel coverage that includes travel accident insurance, and a flexible rewards program. It's $95 annual fee is comparable to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card.

    Learn more in our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier: bottom line

    The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a valuable credit card for Southwest Airlines travelers who want to make the most of their loyalty. With a generous welcome offer, annual account anniversary points, and the potential to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, it offers compelling perks for those who frequently fly with the airline.

    However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier may not be the best choice for travelers seeking luxury perks or those who don't frequently use Southwest Airlines. Additionally, the $99 annual fee should be considered against the potential benefits it offers. If this is your case, you can explore other options on our lists of the best airline credit cards or the best travel credit cards.

Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has covered personal finance for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.
Yahia Barakah, CEPF Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

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