Best for Budget Travelers
- If you spend enough, you could earn Southwest's lucrative Companion Pass
- No blackout dates or award restrictions like with some other airlines
- The card offers an annual bonus to help offset the annual fee
- Earn bonus rewards on certain travel purchases with Southwest and its partners
- Southwest offers all flyers two free checked bags
- No foreign transaction fees
- You're restricted in how you can use your points — your best redemption is through Southwest flights and the airline doesn't have a lot of international destinations
- Charges an annual fee
- No special airline perks
Application Process: Online, through Chase. You'll get a response within 30 seconds.
Rewards: Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, with 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
Bonus Offers: Bonus offers can vary as Chase sometimes makes limited-time offers. As of June 15, 2018, you'll get 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening your account. You'll also earn 6,000 bonus points every year on your cardmember anniversary.
Annual Fee: $99.
APR: 17.49% - 24.49% variable.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has the potential to be one of the most lucrative airline credit cards on the market. If you’re a big spender, that is.
In addition to an impressive sign-up bonus, the card offers you a fast-track to earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which allows you to bring a companion with you for free every time you fly for up to two years.
And while the card charges an annual fee, it partially makes up for it to reduce your overall out-of-pocket costs.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card review - Card highlights
The card intermittently has limited-time offers with its sign-up bonus. As of March 19, 2018, you’ll earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of owning the card.
According to The Points Guy, Rapid Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents apiece on average, giving that sign-up bonus a $750 value.
The card also offers an annual bonus of 6,000 points every time you renew your card. That $90 value doesn’t quite offset the card’s $99 annual fee, but effectively reduces it to $9, which is incredible for a card of this caliber.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card rewards and perks
In addition to the sign-up and anniversary bonuses, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent at Southwest and its hotel and rental car partners. You’ll get 1 point per dollar everywhere else.
In addition to purchase rewards, the card also offers a surprising deal: If you do a balance transfer in the first 90 days, you’ll get 1 point per transferred dollar up to 15,000 points.
That rewards perk is rare, but it might not be worth it. The card has no 0% APR balance transfer promotion, and it charges a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater.
You can use your points for gift cards, flights, hotel stays, event access, and more. But like most other airline cards, you won’t get much value out of your rewards unless you redeem them for free flights.
But getting free flights for yourself isn’t the best thing about this card. Rather, it’s the opportunity to earn the Southwest Companion Pass faster.
The Companion Pass allows you to bring a companion with you for free (excluding taxes and fees, which are typically $5.60 one-way). To get it, you have to earn at least 110,000 qualifying points in a year or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a year.
Since points generated through credit card spending count as qualifying points, your sign-up bonus is a good way to get a head start. And if you sign up for both this card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Card at the same time, you’re essentially within spitting distance of the 110,000-point threshold.
Once you qualify for the Companion Pass, it’s valid for the rest of the current year and the following year. So, to maximize its value, get it as early in the year as possible.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card benefits
While the Companion Pass is the best perk you can get with this card, it’s not the only one. For example, you’ll get:
- Lost luggage reimbursement: This offers coverage worth up to $3,000 if your or an immediate family member’s checked or carry-on bag is damaged or lost by the carrier.
- Baggage delay insurance: This reimburses up to $100 for three days for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays over six hours.
- Purchase protection: You’ll be covered for up to 120 days if an item you purchased gets damaged or stolen. It’s worth up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account lifetime.
- Extended warranty protection: If you buy an item with the card that has a warranty of three years or less, this card will extend that warranty another year.
Unlike other airline cards, though, this one doesn’t offer perks like priority boarding, free checked bags, and discounts on in-flight purchases.
That said, you don’t need free checked bags from the card because Southwest already allows you to check two bags per person for free.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card costs and fees
As we mentioned previously, the card charges a $99 annual fee, and it doesn’t waive it the first year as some other big travel credit cards do. But the annual 6,000-point bonus almost eliminates that fee, making the card worth having even if you rarely use it.
The card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, which makes it a good traveling companion when you’re heading overseas. The typical foreign transaction fee is 3% of each transaction, which can add up.
The card’s APR is relatively high, especially if your credit isn’t excellent. It has a variable APR of 17.24% to 24.24%, depending on your creditworthiness, on both purchases and balance transfers.
It has no penalty APR but charges a variable cash advance APR of 26.24%; also, note that the cash advance fee is 5% of the advance amount or $10, whichever is greater. So, avoid cash advances if you can.
Does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card make sense for me?
If you’re loyal to Southwest Airlines or have the spending capacity to earn the Companion Pass over and over again, this card is a no-brainer.
But for most people, the card’s rewards program can be limiting. Yes, it allows you to redeem your points for more than flights, but it doesn’t make sense to do so.
The card’s anniversary bonus makes it a card worth keeping for the long haul, but if you rarely use the card, it might take a while for the points to accumulate enough to get you a free flight.
As with any credit card, it’s important to consider your spending habits and preferences before applying.
Variable APR17.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR26.49%
Rewards Rate2 points per dollar spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases; 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Bonus OffersEarn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
- 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
- Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
- No blackout dates or seat restrictions, Bags fly free® and no change fees
- Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more