Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Review


Who is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card Good For?

Though Southwest Airlines has grown through its acquisition of AirTran into one of the major U.S. carriers, its frequent flyer program and co-branded credit card are not for everyone.

If Southwest doesn’t fly to your local airport, you may have barely heard of them. The airline prioritizes direct service between regional airports rather than the traditional hub-and-spoke model.

When you’re able to take advantage of its routes, Southwest is fantastic. Holding its credit card can make the experience even better by wiping out most fees and offering perks not available to non-cardholders, like the ability to use points for international flights.

Southwest offers their co-branded credit card in two versions, the Plus Card and the high-powered Premier Card. The Premier Card is available to people with average credit, so it’s worth going for the premium product if you fly on this airline.


Sign-Up Bonuses

The standard bonus is 25,000 points after $1,000 spent in the first three months the account is open. You can also receive an additional bonus of up to 15,000 points on balance transfers at an earning rate of one point per dollar with a three percent fee.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier card sign-up bonus

Periodically the bonus rises to 50,000 points after $2,000 spent in the first three months. These bonus offers don’t last long, but because the points count toward the Southwest Companion Pass, it’s worth waiting or the bigger reward if possible. The annual fee on this card is not waived the first year. It will appear on the first billing statement.

Points Earned

  • 2 points per dollar on purchases from Southwest Airlines or Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else

What Do Your Points Get You?

Southwest points can be used for three types of flight awards: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select fares. Though Southwest doesn’t offer a business class, the Business Select fare includes many of the usual premium class perks, including priority boarding and security screening.

The number of points required for any given flight is tied to the current cash price of that flight. You can use your points for any seat on any flight on any date, but you may pay a premium for the privilege if the ticket price is high.

Cardholders also have the opportunity to use Rapid Rewards points for international travel with more than 50 global airline partners. Non-cardholders cannot redeem for international travel.

Usage Perks:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 points awarded on each anniversary
  • 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQP) for each $10,000 in purchases up to 15,000 per calendar year
  • No change fees on award or cash flights
  • Points redeemable for international flights with partner airlines
  • Opportunity to redeem points for car rentals, cruises and hotel nights
  • No blackout dates on award flights
  • Guaranteed award availability for as many seats as needed

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card additional benefits

Usage Quirks:

  • Points expire after 24 months if there is no earning activity, even for cardholders

How Far Do Your Dollars Go?

As Southwest ties the number of points required for an award to the price of the flight, you can calculate a specific rate of return on your spend. There is some variance among the different fare types, though:

  • Wanna Get Away fares: 1.4 to 1.8 cents per mile
  • Anytime fares: about 1.1 cents per mile
  • Business Select fares: 0.9 to 1 cent per mile

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card is also a great way to earn enough points for the Southwest Companion Pass, which entitles the nominated individual to fly free for a year on all flights with the recipient. The credit card sign-up bonus and all points earned through spending on the card count toward the 110,000 points needed for the companion pass.

While the value obviously depends how much you take advantage of it, you can easily save $1,000 even if you just use it for a handful of domestic flights with your partner.

Additional Cardholder Benefits

This card does not carry any additional credit card benefits, such as purchase protection or warranty extension.