Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Review [2021]: 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.
Last updated May 13, 2021 | 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. For example, you might be someone who thinks Southwest is the best airline to fly due to their baggage policy and lack of change fees.

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

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

Hot Sign-up Bonus


  • Sign-up offer: Earn 40,000 points
  • 6,000 points every year on cardmember anniversary
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest purchases
  • No blackout dates


  • Has annual fee
  • No luxury perks

In this article

Who should get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card?

In general, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is like any airline card in that it 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, 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.

Be aware that 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
Card issuer Chase
Annual fee $99
Intro bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus 3X on dining, including eligible takeout and delivery, for the first year
Reward rate 2X points for Southwest purchases and 1X points on all other purchases
Recommended credit score Excellent, Good
Foreign transaction fee None

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 sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus 3X on dining, including eligible takeout and delivery, for the first year
  • 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.
  • 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 Southwest Companion Pass faster: Points earned from the sign-up bonus count toward the 125,000 points you need to qualify for a Southwest 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 Airlines 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.

Drawbacks to this card

  • 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 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: $930

Year two earnings: $370

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 3X rewards rate on dining, including eligible takeout and delivery, for the first year. 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 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, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases 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 and Companion Pass airfare if you’re able to earn it. 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 FAQs

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 sign-up bonuses for the Premier and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card 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.

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 greatly benefit 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 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.

The Capital One Venture Rewards 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 annual fee is comparable to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card.

Hot Sign-up Bonus

See how these cards compare:

Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • Up to $50 statement credit for grocery store purchases
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • 100,000 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

Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has been covering money 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.