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

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 July 24, 2024
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
4.5

OUR VIEW

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has a $99 annual fee, so it's not the best fit for everyone. If you're like me and think Southwest is the best airline to fly because you get two free checked bags (up to 50 pounds each), you might assume the Rapid Rewards® credit card is worth it.

But there are other factors to consider, starting with the fact that everyone flying Southwest gets two free checked bags, so it’s not worth paying for the credit card for that perk alone.

But, if you’re a frequent traveler and looking for a worthwhile reward credit card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card may be worth it. Like any reward credit card, the card has pros and cons, and ultimately, the decision comes down to whether paying the $99 annual fee makes financial sense. I’ll walk you through my experience with the card to help you compare it to your situation to see if it’s a good fit.

Pros

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Earn 3X points for every $1 spent on most Southwest purchases, including Southwest Vacations®
Earn 6,000 points on each card anniversary date
No blackout dates
Your points don’t expire

Cons

Complicated companion certificate qualifying rules
Must requalify annually for A-List or A-List Preferred status with a large number of flights
Has an annual fee
How we evaluate products

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

Who should get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card?

Many people assume it’s worth getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards® credit card if you fly Southwest, but I dug deeper to see its true financial worth. I think it’s worth it if you fly Southwest frequently, meaning you take more than one or two family trips per year, because the basic points you earn with the credit card may not be as beneficial as you think.

If you either don’t fly often or aren’t loyal to Southwest, there are other non-branded travel credit cards to consider. But, if you’re loyal to Southwest and think you can hit either A-List or A-List Preferred Status, the credit card may be worth it.

So ask yourself:

Do I take at least 10 roundtrip flights per year?

You need 10 roundtrips (or 20 one-way flights) to earn 35,000 points to be an A-List member, which is a lot of flying for most people.

Do I take at least 20 roundtrip flights per year?

If you travel more frequently, taking at least 20 roundtrips (or 40 one-way flights) per year round trip, you may qualify for A-List Preferred and get all the benefits below.

  • Priority boarding
  • Same-day changes for no fee
  • Dedicated (faster) check-in at Southwest counters
  • Dedicated phone line
  • Free inflight internet
  • Double points on each qualifying flight
  • Up to two complimentary premium drinks

This card may not be the best choice for consumers who don’t fly Southwest Airlines very often. 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 like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, where you can receive points for booking different kinds of travel through their portal.

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
You need good to excellent credit to qualify for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Is the annual fee worth it?

The real question you should ask is if the annual fee is worth it. While $99 a year isn’t a lot, it adds up through the years. If you have the card for ten years, that’s $990 in annual fees, which isn’t a small chunk of change!

To decide if it’s worth it, here’s a look at what you can expect in earnings:

To calculate these values, we used a point valuation of 1.4 cents per point based on the average redemption value the award travel community achieved. Remember, this is an estimation. Your actual value will be determined by how much you spend and in which categories.

  • Year one earnings: $1,322
  • Year two earnings: $706

These values are based on the FinanceBuzz Credit Card Rewards Valuation Model, which considers points earned via spending, the welcome offer, and the annual fee.

For this particular card, the assumption is that the "travel" spending did not include any Southwest Airlines purchases or taking 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 will likely 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.

Taking advantage of credits and rewards

It’s only fair to mention the extra bonuses Rapid Rewards members receive, as they can weigh in on your decision.

  • 2 Early Bird check-in credits annually: Every anniversary, you can get up to two Early Bird check-in credits after purchasing the check-in with your Rapid Rewards credit card.
  • Earn 6,000 points every anniversary: On your card anniversary annually, you receive 6,000 bonus points if your account is in good standing
  • Earn a 25% account statement for drinks and Wifi: Inflight purchases of drinks and Wifi paid for with your Rapid Rewards card earn a 25% credit card statement credit
  • 12-month complimentary DoorDash DashPass: When you activate a DoorDash membership for the first time with a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card by 12/31/2024, you earn a free 12-month DashPass.

If you fly frequently, you may also earn a Companion Pass. You must have 100 one-way flights or earn 135,000 points to earn it. A companion pass allows you to bring one other person with you on your flights (the same person) for the remainder of the year you qualify, plus the following year. To get it again, you must requalify.

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, 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?

Chase, the credit card issuer, and Southwest Airlines have partnered to offer various credit card products. However, each traveler will have a different answer to which Southwest credit card is best.

It depends on which travel perks you prefer and if you are okay with paying an annual fee.

Remember that Southwest also offers business credit cards. The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers a generous welcome offer and travel perks that frequent Southwest travelers will appreciate.

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 Assistance Services, and a flexible rewards program.1 Its $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.

Bottom line

Personally, I would only consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card if you frequently fly Southwest. If you aren't brand loyal, don't fly frequently, or want luxury perks like airport lounge access, you'll be disappointed in the Rapid Rewards card.

If you'll maximize the rewards offered, use perks like the Early Bird Check-In, statement credits for inflight purchases, and fly enough to earn A-List status or a Companion Pass.

Otherwise, explore other options for airline credit cards or travel credit cards in general to maximize your benefits.

Author Details

Samantha Hawrylack

Samantha Hawrylack is a writer with more than five years of experience. Her work has been published in Newsweek, MarketWatch, USA Today, Rocket Mortgage, BiggerPockets, Crediful, and many more. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master of Business Administration from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and she was previously a brokerage investment professional with Series 7 and 63 licenses at Vanguard.

Author Details

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.