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Review

Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

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By Sean Messier Jul 31, 2019 | Updated Nov 22, 2020
Our rating
Min. credit level: Good
Annual Fee: $99
Regular APR: 15.99% - 22.99% Variable

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a co-branded credit card offered by Southwest Airlines and Chase. It provides 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible flights purchased from Southwest Airlines, as well as eligible purchases from Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners.

New cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.

Frequent Southwest flyers will get the most out of this card.

The Southwest Premier card is one of several co-branded Southwest credit cards, including business cards.

Card Annual Fee Rewards
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (Review) $69
  • 2X points at Southwest and partners
  • 3,000 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (This review) $99
  • 2X points at Southwest and partners
  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (Review) $149
  • 2X points at Southwest and partners
  • 7,500 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card $99
  • 2X points at Southwest and partners
  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card $199
  • 3X points at Southwest and partners
  • 9,000 anniversary bonus points
Insider tip

Check out how Southwest credit card offers could help you score your next flight for free.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$99
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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 each year.
  • 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.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Your points never expire.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.

Our Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

The Southwest Premier card gets 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a potentially valuable card, but only for the Southwest Airlines enthusiast. And its benefits don’t quite measure up to some of the better airline cards at the same fee tier.

Why We Like It

  • 2X reward rate on Southwest flights, plus with Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners, simplifies the travel planning process
  • 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months delivers an excellent return on spend
  • 6,000-point anniversary bonus rewards you just for being a cardholder
  • First and second checked bags are free
  • Contactless card enables quick, tap-and-go payments (where available)

Why It Could Be Better

Insider Advice: Getting the Most Out of Your Card

  • Book travel with your card: Earn at the 2X reward rate by booking flights with Southwest Airlines, and complete your travel plans with Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners.
  • Get the signup bonus: 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months for a stellar 40%–60% return on spend if you assume 1–1.5 cents per point.
  • Enjoy the anniversary bonus: Get 6,000 bonus points after every cardmember anniversary, which makes up for a considerable chunk of the card’s $99 annual fee.
  • Offset the annual fee: Ignoring the intro and anniversary bonuses, you’ll have to spend around $3,300 at the 2X reward rate to offset the card’s $99 annual fee if you value a Rapid Rewards point at 1.5 cents. The good news? After the first year, thanks to the 6,000-point anniversary bonus, the amount you’ll have to spend drops to $300. We recommend you spend more to actually come out on top, of course.
  • Redeem with Southwest: Redeem your Rapid Rewards points for Southwest flights to maximize the value of your rewards.
  • Bring your card abroad: Travel with your card to avoid foreign transaction fees while savoring the peace of mind provided by its various included travel protections.
  • Use it with other rewards cards: The Rapid Rewards Premier features a specific reward structure, so you should use it alongside another, more general rewards credit card that’s better for everyday spending.

The Rewards

Lower-end airline credit cards tend to have fairly limited bonus categories, and the Rapid Rewards Premier card does nothing to buck this trend. Even so, its 2X reward rate is a nice addition to the points you normally earn through the Rapid Rewards program.

Rapid Rewards points are currently quite valuable, typically worth 1.5–2 cents per point, so when you combine the points earned by the credit card and the Rapid Rewards program, you’ll earn an exceptional cash back equivalent of 12–28% on airfare, depending on the fare type purchased.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar at:
    • Southwest Airlines
    • Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Partners
  • 1X Rapid Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

There’s nothing too complicated going on here. You spend with Southwest and Rapid Rewards partners, and you get 2X Rapid Rewards points per purchase. That’s on top of the points you can already earn by flying Southwest.

So, for example, if you purchase a round-trip ticket at the Anytime fare tier, where you’d normally earn 10 points per dollar through the Rapid Rewards program, you’ll get 12 points per dollar by paying for the ticket with your card.

Insider tip

There are other ways to boost your point earnings with Southwest. Achieve A-List status by flying 25 one-way qualifying flights or earning 35,000 tier qualifying points in a year, and you’ll get a 25% point boost. Fly 50 one-way qualifying flights or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points in a year, and you’ll be granted A-List Preferred status, which gets you a 100% earning bonus.

Like we said earlier, Rapid Rewards points typically deliver a pretty good value, lending this otherwise average reward structure a bit more appeal. But that’s subject to change, and the value you’ll actually get out of your points depends on how you redeem them.

The introductory bonus is a touch more impressive. The low spending threshold, coupled with the generally high value of the points you’re earning, makes it a solid deal all around.

Because you only earn with Southwest and its partners, you might want to use this card with another rewards card to ensure you’re getting cash back or points on more common everyday purchases, like groceries and gas.

Redeeming

You can redeem the points you earn with the Rapid Rewards Premier card for Southwest flights, which is virtually always going to give you the best value.

You can also use Southwest’s Redeem for More Rewards portal to swap points for:

  • Gift cards from 70+ retailers
  • International flights, car rentals, and hotel stays
  • Merchandise, including electronics, jewelry, and more
  • Experiential rewards, like cruises and spa packages

But you should stick with flights if you’re aiming to make the most of your card.

We mentioned how Rapid Rewards points are generally valued between 1.5–2 cents, and quick research seems to back this up. A nonstop Southwest flight from EWR (Newark) to MDW (Chicago) would cost $104 in cash or 6,507 points, for a value of roughly 1.6 cents per point.

Just like cash prices, redemption prices will vary based on a host of factors, including distance, date, demand, and fare type.

Rapid Rewards points never expire, and you’ll never have to worry about blackout dates when you’re looking to plan your next getaway.

The Benefits

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card provides a middling set of benefits anchored by a surprisingly valuable anniversary bonus. Otherwise, there’s nothing particularly valuable, aside from the convenient travel protections that come standard with most travel credit cards at this fee tier.

The full set of benefits you end up receiving depends on your credit limit. If you’re approved with a limit of $5,000 or more, you’ll get a Visa Signature card and its associated benefits. Otherwise, you’ll get a Visa Platinum card.

  • 6,000-point anniversary bonus: Get 6,000 bonus points every year after your cardholder anniversary.
  • Earn tier qualifying points: Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 TQPs per calendar year, to help you reach the 35,000 TQPs required to earn A-List status, the 70,000 required for A-List Preferred status, and the 100,000 required for the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Travel insurance: Essential travel protections help you explore with confidence. Baggage delay, for example, offers reimbursement for essential items if your bag gets delayed or misdirected for more than six hours, while lost luggage reimbursement offers up to $3,000 per passenger if checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged. You also get an auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance.
  • Other shopping and travel protections: Aside from its travel insurance perks, the Rapid Rewards Premier delivers a handful of additional benefits, including purchase protection, extended warranty protection, $0 fraud liability, and roadside dispatch. At the Visa Signature level, you’ll also get travel and emergency assistance.

You’ll seldom receive luxury benefits at the Premier’s price, so there’s nothing wrong with the card’s limited selection of benefits. But you may want to consider competing cards that provide stronger perks.

You could just stick with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (Review). It charges a higher annual fee, but that’s essentially offset (after the first year, at least) by an annual travel credit and a higher anniversary bonus. You get slightly better benefits, too, which is why we tend to recommend it over the Premier.

The United℠ Explorer Card (Review) is a strong contender if you’re not afraid to switch airlines. It waives its $95 annual fee for the first year and provides a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, two annual United Club passes, and numerous other perks.

For something slightly less airline-restrictive, consider the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card (Review). It’s a general travel card, rather than a co-branded airline card, but it delivers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, plus a $100 airline incidental statement credit on top of that.

The Terms & Fees

Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable 15.99% - 22.99% Variable 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
$99 $0
Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
None None Up to $39

The Rapid Rewards Premier card’s terms and fees are standard across the board.

The highlight here is that there are no foreign transaction fees, which is a given for most travel credit cards. That means you can take the card along on every adventure without worrying about the additional fees you’re racking up every time you swipe.

The card does charge a $99 annual fee, which may seem a bit high for the rewards and benefits you’re getting. But after the first year, the 6,000-point anniversary bonus nearly offsets the entire annual fee in one shot.

Even if we assume each point is worth 1.5 cents, which is on the lower end for Southwest, that’s $90 in value every year. So you’d have to spend a measly $300 at the 2X reward rate to cover that remaining $9.

Considering how much the typical flight costs, that should be a breeze.

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good travel credit card if you use it enough to get your money’s worth.

The card’s strong signup offer and annual anniversary bonus make it pretty easy to do just that. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Rapid Rewards points seem to maintain a pretty high value.

If you get this card, be sure to take advantage of the Visa Signature or Visa Platinum benefits. If your luggage is damaged or stolen, for example, you can rest assured that you’re covered up to a fairly high limit. That’s a huge benefit for simply using a credit card to book your travel, and it’s only one of many perks.

Just remember that this card is probably not the right pick for everyday purchases, so it’s best used with another credit card that suits your lifestyle.

How to Apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

If you think the Rapid Rewards Premier card is the right fit for your spending and travel habits, find out how to add it to your arsenal by clicking the “How to Apply” button below.

After you fill out and submit the application, you may be approved or denied immediately. But if you’re not, Chase may request more information.

Qualifications and Requirements

  • Must be 18 (19 in Alabama, 21 in Puerto Rico)
  • Personal identifying information, including birth date, Social Security number, email address, and phone number
  • Total income and source of income
  • Rapid Rewards account number

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$99
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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 each year.
  • 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.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Your points never expire.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

If you aren’t committed to flying Southwest every time you set foot on a plane, there are plenty of other, more flexible, credit card options that can help simplify your travel experience. We’ll cover a few top-tier general travel credit cards, though other co-branded airline cards are also available aplenty.

Insider tip

Southwest isn’t the only airline with co-branded credit cards. You’ll also find offers from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, DeltaHawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, United, and other airlines.

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

The American Express® Gold Card (Review) is a fantastic dining/travel credit card if you’re an avid traveler with a mean appetite. The card boasts a rewards structure that’s both valuable and practical if you don’t eat out every night, a signup bonus with a decent return on spend, and a handful of helpful benefits.

Spending Rewards
  • 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar at:
    • Restaurants
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Flights booked directly through airlines or American Express Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 6 months

Key Features

  • Perks: $120 dining credit, $100 airline credit (through 2021), $100 credit for The Hotel Collection, ShopRunner, Baggage Insurance Plan
  • No foreign transaction fees 
  • Annual fee: $250

Read more in our 2020 Review: The American Express® Gold Card – Best Dining/Travel Card?.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$149
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Climb one step higher on the Southwest credit card ladder, and you’ll find the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (Review). It’s the airline’s priciest non-business card, with an annual fee of $149 so it naturally provides a bit more value than the Rapid Rewards Premier.

The best part? You get a 7,500-point anniversary bonus, plus a $75 Southwest statement credit, basically offsetting that fee in full after your first year as a cardholder.

In fact, that makes the Rapid Rewards Priority our recommended Southwest card.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X points per dollar spent at:
    • Southwest Airlines
    • Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Partners
  • 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offers
  • 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months

Key Features

  • 7,500 anniversary points: Receive 7,500 bonus points after each cardholder anniversary
  • Travel perks: $75 annual Southwest travel credit, reimbursement for four Upgraded Boarding purchases annually, 20% back on in-flight purchases
  • Travel insurance: Auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip accident insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $149

Read more in our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R).
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) is a very popular travel rewards credit card, and not just for its sharp looks. The Sapphire Preferred earns points on travel purchases, and the ability to redeem points through both Chase Ultimate Rewards and via point transfer gives the card a lot of flexibility.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 80,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months

Key Features

  • Travel perks: 25% point bonus when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel, point transfer to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Travel insurance: Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $95

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties . Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

It’s nearly impossible to discuss the greatest travel credit cards without mentioning The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review). In addition to its high-earning rewards program, this luxury card comes with premium benefits aplenty, including the most comprehensive airport lounge access you can get through plastic alone.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar (starting 1/1/21, on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year) on:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
    • Eligible prepaid hotels booked with the American Express Travel portal
  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on other eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar spent everywhere else
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 75,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, in the first 6 months

Key Features

  • Travel perks: $200 annual airline fee credit through 2021, complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection, elite hotel statuses, $200 annual Uber credit, Platinum Card Concierge
  • Travel insurance: Baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees (Rates & Fees)
  • Annual fee: $550

Read more in our 2020 Review: The Platinum Card® from American Express – Is It Worth the $550 Annual Fee?

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$99
Regular APR15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 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 each year.
  • 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.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Your points never expire.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.

What’s your experience been with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card? Leave your own review of this card for other readers — we’d love to hear from you.

Airline cards aren’t for everyone. If you think you’d be better off with another type of credit card, check out our best card picks in every category.

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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

At a glance

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier is a great credit card if you fly Southwest enough to offset the $99 annual fee. The card’s signup and anniversary bonuses make it relatively easy to do so.

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