Review of the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Card

Casey Inman

Casey Inman | Reviews

Dec 07, 2015

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The Southwest® Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card is the top credit card offered by Southwest Airlines. It offers 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible flights purchased from Southwest Airlines, as well as eligible purchases from Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners.

In the first year, you have the opportunity to earn lots of rewards points through the sign-up bonus, which offers 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. That’s enough points to redeem a round-trip ticket to almost anywhere in the United States!

Frequent travelers of Southwest Airlines will get the most out of this card. I’ll get into more details about how to get the most out of your card in the Bottom Line section of this post. If you’re interested in that immediately click here, otherwise, read on below.

Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Interest Rate: 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases from Southwest Airlines, Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners. View the details here »
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • 6,000 points are awarded after your cardmember anniversary
  • Points count towards Companion Pass status, which you’ll need 110,000 points to qualify for. Companion Pass lets you choose one person to fly with you at anytime for a year
  • 15K Balance Transfer Bonus: Earn 1 point for every $1 in balance transfers, up to 15,000 points, in the first 90 days of account opening
  • 15K Tier-Qualifying Points Every Year: Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 made in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points each calendar year
  • A-List Status: Benefits include priority boarding privileges, a 25% earning bonus, priority check-in and security lane access, standy priority, and a dedicated A-list member phone. To get this you'll need to earn 25 qualifying one-way flights or 35,000 tier-qualifying points in a calendar year. More information can be found here »
  • Redeem points for travel benefits and getaways. International flights to over 800 destinations on 50+ global carriers, overnight stays at over 70,000 hotels worldwide, car rentals from major brands, amazing getaways, and gift cards from select retailers
  • Points never expire

The information for Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Rewards

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible flights purchased from Southwest Airlines, and on eligible purchases from Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners. Learn more about the Rapid Rewards program here »
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 points after your cardmember anniversary.
  • Unlimited points that will never expire.
  • Balance transfer bonus points: You’ll earn 1 point for every $1 in balance transfers, up to 15,000 points, only in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Tier-qualifying points every year: You’ll earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 made in purchases, up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points each calendar year.
  • Extra rewards points for shopping at select stores: Examples include Staples.com, Lowe’s, Macys.com, Walmart.com, Groupon and more. Check out more stores here »
  • The chance to get Companion Pass status: Choose 1 person to fly with you at any time for a year. To get this you’ll need to earn 110,000 points.
  • The chance to earn A-list status: The benefits include priority boarding privileges, a 25% point bonus, priority check-in and security lane access, standby priority, and a dedicated A-list member phone number. To get this you’ll need to purchase 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn up to 35,000 tier-qualifying points in a calendar year. More information can be found here »
  • Redeem points for travel benefits and getaways: You can redeem points for international flights to over 800 destinations on 50+ global carriers, overnight stays at over 70,000 hotels worldwide, car rentals from major brands, amazing getaways, and gift cards from select retailers.

The Benefits

Perks

  • No Blackout Dates or Seat Restrictions: When you redeem your points for a flight ticket.
  • First and Second Checked Bags Fly Free: For the cardholder only.
  • No Change Fees: You won’t be charged if you need to change your travel plans.
  • Southwest Airlines® Inflight Entertainment: Free live television. 19 live channels and up to 75 television episodes. And internet access for $8 per device per day on WiFi-enabled aircraft.

Security

This card comes with Visa Signature or Visa Platinum and Chase benefits. Benefits are features that make shopping, travel, or other aspects of life easier and more secure. To learn more about credit card benefits check out our guide »

Signature and Platinum refer to the different levels of benefits that Visa offers. The two levels are almost the same except Visa Signature has a bit more to offer:

  • Visa Signature offers Travel & Emergency Assistance, while Visa Platinum does not.
  • Visa Signature offers coverage of up to $500,000 with Trip Accident Insurance, while Visa Platinum offers coverage of up to $250,000.

Southwest and Chase will review your credit report and other information in your application to determine the level of benefits you’ll get. You’ll be sent a list if/when you are approved for your card. These are the benefits currently listed on Southwest’s site.

Shopping

  • Purchase Protection: Provides coverage for 120 days against theft and damage on eligible items, up to $10,000 per claim, and $50,000 per account.
  • Extended Warranty Protection: Extends a manufacturer’s warranty by 1 year, for warranties of 3 years or less, up to $10,000 per claim, and up to $50,000 per account.

Travel

  • Travel and Emergency Assistance: Provides 24/7 help with emergencies, including legal and medical referrals. (Visa Signature cardholders only.)
  • Trip Accident Insurance: Accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000 when you book travel with your card. ($250,000 for Visa Platinum cardholders.)
  • Baggage Delay Insurance: Get reimbursed for essential items if your bag is delayed or misdirected for more than 6 hours. Contact Southwest Airlines and let them know if this happens.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If checked or carry-on bags are lost or damaged, provides reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Provides coverage against theft and collision, as long as the car rental company’s own insurance is declined.
  • Roadside Dispatch: 24/7 help with roadside emergencies. Examples include tows, jumpstarts, tire changes, lockout service, winching, or gas delivery; $59.95 per service call. (Additional fees may apply.)

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
$99 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable 16.24% - 23.24% *Variable 25.24% *Variable 0%
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
See Terms Up to $37 Up to $37

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card is a good travel credit card if you use it enough to get your money’s worth. How often do you need to travel with Southwest Airlines to get your money’s worth? To help you figure this out, Southwest has created a Destination Finder tool which tells you how many points you’ll need for a round-trip ticket to a given destination.

You’ll need to earn at least 20,000 – 30,000 points for 1 round-trip ticket to most places in the U.S. that are 500 – 2,000 miles away. Currently a ticket for this distance will cost you about $800 or less. There are some places in Mexico this applies to as well.

If you earn 15,000 points, your travel options will be limited to places within 500 miles of your point of departure. Tickets this distance are about $300 or less.

Let’s take a look at what earning 30,000 points would look like the first year.

If you’re planning to spend $3,000 on travel through Southwest within the first 3 months of getting this card, you’ll earn:

  • 25,000 points for meeting the $3,000 requirement for the sign-up bonus
  • 6,000 points for making $3,000 worth of purchases at 2 points for every $1

So after spending $3,000 in purchases and $99 on the annual fee, for a total of $3,099, you’ll get 31,000 points. As stated above, this is enough for 1 ticket to anywhere you want in the U.S. and some places in Mexico. If these rewards are worth it to you then this card is a good option for at least the first year.

After the first year, earning a lot of points will be tough. Without the sign-up bonus the main ways you’ll earn points are:

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases made through Southwest Airlines, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partners
  • 2 points for every $1 spent at eligible stores
  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points after your cardmember anniversary

If you’re going to spend at least $4,500 per year in purchases at 2 points for every $1 you can earn 9,000 points. When you add the anniversary bonus of 6,000 points, this will give you 15,000 points per year. That’s enough to get a round-trip ticket to travel to most places within 500 miles from your point of departure. If that’s worth it to you, then it’s worth it to keep this card after the first year.

But if you’re not going to be spending at least $4,500 a year then using this card beyond the first year is questionable because you won’t be getting a free round-trip ticket every year. You can still use your points for hotel stays, rental cars, gift cards, event tickets, and other unique experiences, but those options are just not as good as a free plane ticket.

If you get this card be sure to take advantage of the Visa Signature or Visa Platinum benefits. For example, if your luggage gets damaged or stolen, you’ll get up to $3,000 back. That’s a huge benefit for simply using a credit card to book your travel, and it’s only one of many perks.

What’s your experience been with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card? Click here to leave your own review of this card for other visitors.

Other Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

Southwest also offers another version of this card with a $69 annual fee, the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Plus Card. With it, you’ll get the same rewards as the Premier, but the yearly anniversary bonus is 3,000 points as opposed to the Premier’s 6,000 points. Check out the card page to learn more »

If you are a business owner who travels frequently through Southwest there is a business version of the Rapid Rewards Premier, the Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card. This card offers the same rewards and benefits as the Premier, as well as tools for managing employee accounts, and the ability to earn points on employee cards. Check out the card page to learn more »

Go here to see our picks for The Best Airline Credit Cards – 2015 »
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