Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card makes it easy for frequent Southwest flyers to earn rewards for regular spending, although there is an annual fee. This card works best for anyone who purchases a lot of flights on Southwest and may need help pursuing elite status with the airline.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

overall rating
4.3
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
Ratings Breakdown
for Interest
1.9
for Fees
2.7
for Rewards
4.6
for Credit
4.0

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.

Who is This Credit Card Best For?

  • Avatar for Jet Setter Persona
    Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
    Jet Setter
  • Avatar for Brand Loyalist Persona
    Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
    Brand Loyalist
  • Avatar for Adventure Seeker Persona
    Loves to explore places and experience new things
    Adventure Seeker
  • Avatar for Deal Seeker Persona
    Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
    Deal Seeker

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for frequent Southwest flyers who want to earn points on their spending and may be pursuing A-List status. Once you sign up, you can earn points for each dollar you spend on your credit card, as well as tier qualifying points good toward A-List status with Southwest.

Pros

  • Good sign-up bonus

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Earn tier qualifying points toward elite status

Cons

  • Annual fee the first year

  • Modest rewards earning rate

Pros Explained

  • Good sign-up bonus: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card starts you off with 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening. 
  • No foreign transaction fees: Where the “Plus” version of this card charges foreign transaction fees, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card does not charge any extra fees when you use your credit card for purchases abroad.
  • Earn tier qualifying points toward elite status: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card lets you earn “tier qualifying points” good toward elite status with the airline. These points can help you reach A-List or A-List Preferred status faster. 

Cons Explained

  • Annual fee the first year: While many airline and travel credit cards waive the annual fee for the first year, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card does not.
  • Modest rewards earning rate: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card only gives you 1 point per $1 spent on any purchase you make that isn’t with Southwest. This is disappointing, as many travel credit cards and airline credit cards offer more lucrative bonus categories. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card gives new cardholders 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months. That could be worth as much as $604 in Southwest airfare, according to The Balance’s valuation of Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

This bonus is relatively easy to earn since you only need to spend $334 per month for three months in a row to reach the threshold. 

Earning Points & Rewards

Once you have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, earning rewards is a breeze. Simply use your card for all your Southwest purchases (including rental cars and hotels booked on Southwest.com) to earn 2 points per $1. You’ll earn 1 point per $1 you spend on all other purchases made with your card. Your points will transfer into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account, where you will manage and redeem them.

One benefit of Southwest Rapid Rewards points is the fact that there are no caps on how many you can earn, and now your points never expire. 

Redeeming Rewards

If your goal is to earn points you can redeem for flights, you’ll be happy to know that The Balance’s analysis of Southwest Rapid Rewards points found that they are worth 1.51 cents each when redeemed for airfare on Southwest. The airline flies all throughout the continental United States, to Hawaii, and to select destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean as well, so there’s no shortage of ways you can use your points. 

While airfare offers the best value for your points, you can also redeem them for hotel stays, car rentals, experiences, gift cards, and merchandise. These redemption options are often worth less than 1 cent per point, so save your points for airfare instead if you can.

Southwest lets you redeem your points for international flights on other airlines, too. You’ll typically get much less value for each point you redeem if you go this route, but it’s nice to have the option. 

While Southwest now promises your points will never expire, it's never a good idea to hoard airline points indefinitely because programs change, often in ways that cause the miles to lose value.  

How to Get the Most Out of This Card

Once you sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, make sure you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening in order to earn 40,000 bonus points. Also use your card for all Southwest purchases as well as hotels and rental cars you can book through Southwest. 

If you hope to earn even more points on at least some of your regular spending, consider pairing your card with a premier Chase travel credit card that offers more points on all travel purchases as well as dining. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve fit the bill, and both let you transfer points 1:1 to Southwest and other partners. 

When it comes to cashing in your points, you’ll get the most value when you redeem for Southwest flights. However, keep a close eye out for Southwest sales and promotions, which can help you stretch your points even further. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card’s Excellent Perks

Depending on creditworthiness, you’ll get a Visa Signature or a Visa Platinum card, which offer slightly different perks and benefits. Whichever card you get, these are the perks the editors of The Balance consider “excellent.”

  • Anniversary points: Receive 6,000 points on your cardmember anniversary every year.
  • Airline companion pass: Earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year and be rewarded with a companion pass, which allows one person to fly with you airfare-free (you’ll still have to cover taxes and fees) for the rest of the year, and throughout the next full year.
  • Insurance coverage for lost or delayed luggage: For lost luggage you’ll be compensated for up to $3,000, and for baggage delays of more than six hours, you’ll receive up to $100 to cover the cost of incidentals.
  • Travel accident insurance: Get up to $250,000 or up to $500,000 (depending on which card you get) in compensation in the event of loss or life or accidental dismemberment when you pay for transportation on a common carrier with your credit card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card’s Other Features

  • Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
  • Extended warranties
  • Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases 
  • Roadside assistance hotline
  • Travel and emergency hotline

Customer Experience

Chase is a big bank that offers big bank customer service—24/7 agents are reachable by phone, secure messaging, and even Twitter. Of course, there’s also an app and Chase provides a free VantageScore credit score through its Credit Journey program, which also offers security tools. 

This combination of benefits is likely the reason Chase has scored well in terms of customer satisfaction. J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study gave Chase the fourth spot (out of 11 competing card issuers). 

Security Features

Chase offers industry-standard security, including fraud alerts and zero liability for fraudulent charges on your card. The Credit Journey program also offers credit monitoring to let you know of changes to your credit report, which could alert you to fraud. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card’s Fees

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card charges a handful of industry-standard fees for balance transfers and late payments, but you’ll never have to pay a foreign transaction fee on purchases made abroad.

For Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Compare This Card

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CURRENT CARD
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
overall rating
4.3
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.99% - 24.99% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Our Methodology

  • At The Balance, we are dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.
  • Our Reviews Are Always Impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive. The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:
  • How Much Does It Cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees.
  • What Are the Rewards Worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cash back—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns.
  • Does It Make Your Life Easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges.
  • For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.