Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty See more cards
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is best for frequent Southwest flyers who want to earn rewards for their loyalty and more easily achieve A-List status with Southwest. This card is best for those who can spend enough to earn 125,000 miles each year after Feb. 28, 2022, which will get you a valuable airline companion pass that makes the unavoidable annual fee well worth the cost.
No foreign transaction fees
Earn tier qualifying points toward elite status
Nice bonus for new cardholders
Earn an airline companion pass faster
Annual fee isn’t waived the first year
Modest rewards earning rate
- 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.
- Great bonus for new cardholders: Spend only $1,000 in the first three months and you'll get 40,000 bonus rewards points. While that's not a massive offer, it is enough extra points to book at least one round-trip economy flight with Southwest, too, based on The Balance's research.
- Earn an airline companion pass faster: Since this card offers more Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent, you may be able to more quickly earn the 125,000 Rapid Rewards points needed each year to be rewarded with a companion pass after you've enjoyed the latest bonus offer.
- Annual fee isn’t waived the first year: While many comparable 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 rates: 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 bonus categories that let you earn extra miles on non-travel purchases.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Bonus for New Cardholders
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card gives new cardholders 40,000 points after spending just $1,000 within three months. Those extra points alone are worth about $580 in Southwest airfare, according to The Balance’s average point value calculations. What's more, new cardholders will also earn 3 points per $1 spent on dining (including takeout) during their first year with the card. Considering this card doesn't normally offer extra rewards on anything but Southwest purchases, that's a nice short-term addition.
However, you can get the exact same bonus by opening the Southwest card with the lowest annual fee: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. Typically rewards cards with higher annual fees offer larger bonuses, but that's not the case here. We don't think that's a deal-breaker, but just something to think about as you weigh your options.
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.
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 1.45 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 have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, make sure you spend $1,000 within three months of account opening in order to earn the 40,000 bonus points. Going forward, use this card for all Southwest purchases as well as hotels and rental cars you can book through Southwest to rack up extra points, too. Put all your takeout orders on this card for the first year to accumulate points even faster, too.
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.
- 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
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 offers users the ability to check their credit score for free 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 2020 Credit Card Satisfaction Study again gave Chase the fourth spot (out of 11 competing card issuers).
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
Outside of the annual fee, 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.