Southwest Credit Card Review: Is Premier the Right Choice?
The Southwest Premier credit card is a part of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. Southwest partnered with Chase to offer a credit card that allows Rapid Rewards members to earn additional points for flights and purchases. While the card has mediocre earning potential for everyday purchases, it does offer both an excellent sign-up bonus and an anniversary bonus.
The Southwest Airlines Premier credit card also comes with perks for flyers like priority boarding, no blackout dates for award tickets, free checked bags and Visa Signature card travel benefits. Rapid Rewards members can also qualify for A-List and A-List Preferred status more quickly if they use the Southwest Premier card. Elite status gives members access to additional benefits like priority check-in, special discounts and free in-flight Wi-Fi.
Another good thing about the Southwest credit card is that it can help cardholders earn Southwest’s valuable Companion Pass faster. That’s because you can earn Tier Qualifying Points, or TQP, with the card, and those points count toward the pass.
Bonuses and Benefits
Knowing what benefits come with a credit card can help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Here we cover the bonuses and perks that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers and the value of the Chase Rapid Rewards® points you earn.
One of the best features of this card is its bonuses. The current sign-up bonus is 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Any purchase — from groceries to airline tickets—counts toward the minimum spend. You’ll also get a bonus every year you keep the card. The Premier card’s anniversary bonus is 6,000 points.
Those aren’t the only easy points you can get. You’ll earn 10,000 points for each friend you refer to the Southwest card. You can get up to 100,000 bonus points per year through card referrals.
What You Get
- Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 6,000 points anniversary bonus every year you have the card
- Invite your friends and earn 10,000 points if they get a Southwest card
Southwest Rapid Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains active. That means that as long as your credit card account is in good standing, you’ll never lose your points. You can take as long as you need to save up for a dream vacation, or keep your points handy in case of an emergency. Use your points however you want and whenever you’re ready.
The Southwest Companion Pass
While the Rapid Rewards Premier card doesn’t offer a discounted companion fare like some co-branded airline cards, it can help you earn Southwest’s extremely valuable Companion Pass more quickly. Southwest’s Companion Pass allows you to take one person with you for free every time you fly. It’s valid for a full calendar year.
To get the pass, you need to earn 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. You’ll get there faster with the Premier credit card because you’ll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) for every $10,000 you spend on the card.
What is the value of the Rapid Rewards® Points?
Southwest does not have an award chart. Instead, the cost of award tickets are loosely based on the cash price of the ticket, so the price in points will vary by destination, the time and date of the flight, demand for seats, and the fare class. In general, you’ll get 1-1.5 cents per point. Look for the cheapest fares, which are called Wanna Get Away, to get the best value for your points. Business class redemptions should generally be avoided as they’ll typically get you less than a cent per point.
What is CPM and How Is It Calculated?
Cents Per Mile (CPM) is a way to measure the value of miles. It tells you how many cents you get for each mile you redeem by dividing the cash price of the airline ticket (minus taxes and fees charged for an award ticket) by the number of miles the award flight costs. This is a somewhat subjective calculation because the price of the flight in both cash and miles fluctuates by season and availability.
How we calculate CPM:
The Best Ways to Redeem Southwest Points
You’ll get the most value for you points if you use them for flights on Southwest. The Rapid Rewards program is great for cheap domestic flights. It’s also very easy to use. Simply find the flight you want on Southwest’s website and pay for it with points. There are no award charts or blackout dates. You can even change an award flight you’ve already booked without incurring a fee.
Southwest does allow you to redeem points for flights on other airlines, but only for international routes not already served by the airline. It’s nice to have that option, but the redemption rates for those flights aren’t great. You’ll be lucky to get 1 cent per point. It’s best to stick with domestic flights if you’re using Southwest points and use the miles you’ve earned with another program for international destinations.
Southwest allows you to book vacation packages through its website, so you can redeem your points for hotel stays and car rentals with a large variety of companies. And if you absolutely cannot find another use for your points, you can redeem for gift cards.
Newark–DenverEconomy classMiles price27,154points+$11.2 feeDollars price$417
San Francisco–ChicagoEconomy classMiles price25,440points+$11.2 feeDollars price$398
Los Angeles–HoustonEconomy classMiles price19,328points+$11.2 feeDollars price$317
Punta Cana–AtlantaEconomy classMiles price36,328points+$104.66 feeDollars price$710
Montego Bay–ChicagoEconomy classMiles price33,896points+$95.11 feeDollars price$587
Havana–TampaEconomy classMiles price6,624points+$72.06 feeDollars price$205
Washington–San AntonioBusiness classMiles price125,200points+$11.2 feeDollars price$1,150
Fort Lauderdale–PittsburghBusiness classMiles price98,184points+$11.2 feeDollars price$908
Pittsburgh–PhoenixBusiness classMiles price118,724points+$11.2 feeDollars price$1,092
Houston–MexicoBusiness classMiles price90,720points+$92.43 feeDollars price$889
Cancun–Fort LauderdaleBusiness classMiles price89,040points+$77.55 feeDollars price$890
Belize City–DenverBusiness classMiles price104,880points+$73.81 feeDollars price$991
Other ways you can redeem points
Hotel Stays10 partners10 part.
Book a stay at over 70,000 hotels listed on Southwest’s website. That includes budget chains, luxurious resorts and little boutique spots across the country.
Car Rental8 partners8 part.
Southwest has partnered with a number of car rental companies so you’ll have options wherever you’re traveling. National, Alamo, Budget and more are available.
Gift Cards4 partners4 part.
Looking for the latest fashions at Macy’s? Need a new book from Barnes & Noble? Or maybe you’re headed to Lowe’s for a home improvement project. Whatever you’re looking for, Southwest has you covered with a wide variety of gift cards.
Everyday Earnings with Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
While you’ll only get the 50,000 sign-up bonus once with the Southwest card, you will continue to earn points with every purchase you make. You’ll get 2 points per dollar spent with Southwest and its hotel and car rental partners. Southwest purchases include anything you buy directly from the airline, such as flights, in-flight food and beverages, Southwest gift cards and vacation packages. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.
- Southwest Purchases
- All Other Purchases
The following transactions do not earn points: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions; lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions; overdraft advances; interest; unauthorized or fraudulent charges; and fees of any kind, including the annual fee.
Free Checked Bag
First and second checked bags are free when you fly Southwest. That can save you up to $120 roundtrip.
Southwest does not provide its passengers with complimentary lounge access.
A-List and A-List Preferred status members can enjoy being the first to board, and the Southwest card will get you elite status faster.
Get the Companion Pass after completing 100 one-way flights or earning 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, which you can earn faster with the Southwest card.
A-List Preferred status members get in-flight Wi-Fi at no charge.
Add your KTN to your ticket and speed through security.
Earn Elite Status Fast
- 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points towards A-List and A-List Perferred status for every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000
With the Southwest Premier card you can earn A-List or A-List Preferred elite status faster. That’s because you’ll get 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) for every $10,000 you spend on the card. To earn A-List status, you need 35,000 TQPs, and A-List Preferred takes 70,000 TQPs. Status gives you access to a variety of benefits, including priority boarding and check-in, free Wi-Fi and bonus points for flights.
Fees: the cost of Having Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
This card’s annual fee is $99. If you make $6,266 in purchases a year, you’ll cover the cost of the card. That’s because you’ll earn at least 6,266 points and they’re worth at least 1 cents each. If you spend about $2,000 a month, you’ll pay off the card in 4 months.
The sign-up bonus alone is worth more than the cost of the annual fee. That means that the cost of having the card for the first year is easily covered. The anniversary bonus you’ll get for the second year is worth at least $60, which more than half of the card’s annual fee. The remaining $39 would be covered if you spend just $3,900 on the card throughout the year. Everything else you earn is essentially free rewards.
- Late Payment Fee
- Up to $15 if the balance is less than $100; up to $27 if the balance is $100 to less than $250; up to $37 if the balance is $250 or more
- Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- Annual Fee
See What It Takes to Cover an Annual Fee:
Get anniversary bonus: 6,000 points
You will receive 6,000 bonus points each anniversary year – enough to cover more than a half of the annual fee.
We strongly recommend to spend not less than $2,089 per months to cover the annual fee in three months.
We’ve broken out our estimates for the first- and second-year net earnings you’ll get with the Southwest Premier credit card. Is the card worth getting, and should you keep it after you get the sign-up bonus? Let’s find out.
These estimates are based on an annual monthly spend of $2,000
Top 5 Benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
The Southwest card comes with a variety of great benefits, particularly if you often use the carrier for domestic flights. These are the best perks of having the card:
- Great Sign-Up Bonus: You’ll get 50,000 points worth at least $500 if you spend just $2,000 in the first three months.
- Anniversary Bonus: Not a lot of cards reward you with a yearly bonus. You’ll get 6,000 points just for keeping the card.
- Earn Tier Qualifying Points: You’ll get 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend. Those points will help you earn elite status and Southwest’s valuable companion pass faster.
- Double Points: Get 2 points for every dollar you spend with Southwest and its hotel and car rental partners.
- Excellent Domestic Redemptions: Southwest gives Rapid Rewards members a great value for their points when they redeem for economy domestic flights, particular at the Wanna Get Away fare level.
Should You Get the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card?
If you use the card’s benefits, the Southwest Premier credit card is easily worth its $99 annual fee. In the short-term, you’ll get a solid 50,000 points sign-up bonus worth several hundred dollars in Southwest travel.
After that, you’ll earn more with double points for all purchases made with Southwest and 1 point per dollar for all other purchases. While that’s not the best return for non-Southwest purchases, the card also offers a 6,000 points anniversary bonus every year you have the card. Not a lot of cards offer that kind of bonus.
For those who often travel with Southwest, you can earn up to 15,000 points a year toward elite status and the carrier’s fantastic companion pass just by making purchases on the card. The only other way to earn Tier Qualifying Points is by flying.
Need more info? Check out our frequently asked questions. If you have other questions, please click on “Ask Now” below.
No, you do not have to be a member. If you are not already a Rapid Rewards member when you apply, you will automatically be enrolled when you’re approved for the card. You won’t need to provide any additional information. Southwest will use the information provided on the credit card application form to create your account. After being approved, you should receive the login information to access your Rapid Rewards account. If you do not receive this information, simply contact Southwest’s customer service for assistance.
With that level of spending, you will definitely benefit more with the Southwest Premier card. That’s because it will increase your chances of getting Southwest’s Companion Pass and earning elite status. Unlike the other cards offered by Southwest, the Premier card allows you to earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) that count toward both elite status and the Companion Pass. You’ll earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend on the card each year.
To qualify for A-List status you need 35,000 TQPs, and for A-List Preferred status you need 70,000 TQPs. Once you reach these thresholds, you will get a variety of benefits, such as priority boarding, access to the ‘Fly By’ lane and standby priority. You will also start earning a 25 percent bonus points on flights as an A-List member, and 100 percent bonus points with A-List Preferred status. The Companion Pass is awarded to members who earn 110,000 TQPs in a calendar year.
You don’t have to take any special action to link your Southwest credit card to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. Your card should automatically be linked to your account when you get it. You can check by by logging in to your Rapid Rewards account. If the card and account are not there, call Southwest customer service at 1-800-435-9792 (1-800-I-FLY-SWA) and explain your situation.
To upgrade to a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card, simply call 1-800-792-0001. You’ll receive a letter explaining terms and condition of your new Premier card after you’re approved for the upgrade. Compared to the Plus card, the Premier card has a higher annual fee at $99, a bigger anniversary bonus at 6,000 points and the ability to earn Tier Qualifying Points. Note that you won’t qualify for the current 50,000 sign-up bonus offer when you upgrade.
All of your old account information, including the points you’ve earned, will be transferred to your new account. Your credit card number will not change, but the CVV/security code and the expiration date might. If you have automatic payments set up, be sure to check them after upgrading.
I applied for Rapid Rewards Premier card and haven’t heard anything from them. How can I check my Southwest card application status?
The easiest way to check your Southwest credit card application status is to contact Chase Card Services. Call 1-800-792-0001 if you are in the U.S. and 1-302-594-8200 from anywhere else in the world. Make sure you have your social security number handy when you call because you will need to verify your identity.
If you already have a Chase account, you can simply log in to see if a new card has been added to your online profile.
Compare Southwest Rapid Rewards Cards
Other Southwest cards
Southwest offers two co-branded personal credit cards, the Premier and the Plus. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card has a higher annual fee, but also a few more benefits. How often you fly Southwest and how you use the card will determine which one is right for you.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card|
|Sign-up bonus||50,000 points||50,000 points||60,000 points|
|APR On Purchases||17.24% to 24.24% Variable±||17.24% to 24.24% Variable±||16.99% to 23.99% Variable±|
|Second Year Value||$427||$474||$474|
You’ll pay $69 a year for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card and $99 for the Premier. Since Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has slightly bigger sign-up bonus, what exactly are you getting for that extra $30 in annual fees?
There are two major advantages to the Premier card. First, it’s anniversary bonus is twice what you’ll get with the plus card. At 6,000 points, that’s worth at least $60 vs. roughly $30 in value for the Plus’s 3,000 -point anniversary bonus. That alone pays for the extra cost of the Premier card as long as you use the points.
The other advantage of the Premier card is that you can earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) at a rate of 1,500 for every $10,000 spent. That can be great if you’re trying to earn elite status or Southwest’s Companion Pass. But if you don’t fly enough with Southwest, those TQPs aren’t going to do you any good.
One final point of difference: the Plus card charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee, whereas the Premier has no international fees. If you plan to travel abroad and you want a card you can use wherever you’re going, you’ll definitely want the Premier card.
Compare Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card to Other Cards
Whether you’re a low-cost carrier enthusiast, or you just like to save money when you fly, there’s an awards card that’s right for you. Below we compare Southwest’s credit card to those of two other budget airlines, Spirit and Frontier. And for those who’d rather have more flexibility when it comes to spending your miles, there’s the Venture Rewards card.
Of the three airlines cards, Southwest has the highest annual fee at $99. Spirit has the best deal at just $59, it’s the only card that waives the fee for the first year. The Frontier MasterCard costs $69 a year. While the cost of a card is important, keep in mind that Southwest has a much larger network than the other two airlines. In fact, it’s the second largest airline in the world in terms of passengers carried.
If you happen to often fly in areas equally served by all three of these discount carriers, then your choice gets a little harder. All three cards come with sign-up bonuses worth at least two domestic roundtrip tickets, but you will pay extra on Frontier and Spirit for everything, such as seat assignments, in-flight food and beverages, checked bags, and even carry-ons.
Southwest, on the other hand, offers better value and customer service. You’ll get free checked bags as well as carry-ons, plus you’ll never have to pay a change fee. In addition, the Southwest card is a Visa Signature that comes with some solid travel benefits you won’t get with the other two cards, such as no foreign transaction fees, car rental insurance, and lost and delay luggage coverage.
The Venture Rewards card might be the biggest contender of the group. While it comes with a competitive sign-up bonus that’s worth $500 in travel and earns an excellent 2 miles per dollar for every purchase, its best asset is its flexibility. You won’t be tied to one airline because you can redeem miles for statement credits toward any travel expenses. That means you can use your miles to pay for flights on any airline or for any other travel, from taxis to cruises.
Whenever you apply for a credit card make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card and the rewards program to find out about minimum spend requirements and any restrictions to ensure you can successfully obtain the card and earn the rewards it offers.
Card Terms and Conditions
While it's easy to focus on the rewards offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card, it's worth taking a closer look at the terms and conditions. There's a lot to consider as you think about how you're going to use the card. Will you carry a balance, get a cash advance or maybe make a big purchase? Below is a rundown of the various interest rates, purchase protections, security features and mobile banking options that come with the Rapid Rewards card.
- Intro APR:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Intro APR for balance transfers:
- See Terms and Conditions
- Ongoing APR:
- 17.24% to 24.24% Variable±
- Minimum Grace Period:
- 21 days
- Extended Warranty Protection:
- Get an extra year of coverage when you use your Southwest card. Eligible for warranties of three years or less.
- Purchase Protection:
- Covers damage and theft of new purchases for 120 days. Get up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.
Cash Advance Features
- Ongoing APR:
- 26.24% Variable±
- Cash Advance Fee:
- Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
Security and Protections
Chase offers Southwest Premier cardholders security features to keep account and personal information safe. Wherever you are, you can rest easy knowing that your card is secure.
- Account alerts:
- Set up alerts to be notified if there is any unusual account activity, such as large transactions or unauthorized withdrawals. You’ll also get reminders when your bill is due.
- Paperless statements:
- Go paperless so no one can get your account information by intercepting your mail.
Chase makes it easy to maintain your account with its flexible mobile banking tools. Available for virtually any phone, tablet or computer.
- Chase Mobile Banking:
- Use the Chase Mobile app to pay bills, transfer money, check balances, deposit checks and more. This all-in-one banking app is secure, flexible and user-friendly.
- Chase Pay, Apple Pay and Android Pay:
- You have your choice of digital wallet platforms. A great way to make in-store purchases easier.
Cardholder Travel Benefits
The Southwest Premier card is a Visa Signature credit card, which means you’ll get all the cardholder travel benefits offered by Visa. That includes a variety of travel-related perks, such as coverage for car rentals, lost luggage, travel accidents and more.
Note that if you don’t qualify for the Visa Signature version of the Premier card, Chase will automatically consider you for the Visa Platinum version. The Platinum comes with slightly different benefits. Be sure to check with Chase.
Visa Signature Travel Benefits
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver:
- Coverage is provided for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., coverage is secondary to your personal insurance.
- Baggage Delay Insurance:
- Get reimbursed up to $100 a day for a maximum of 3 days per passenger for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing. Baggage delays must be over 6 hours to qualify.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement:
- You and immediate family members are covered up to $3,000 for luggage that is damaged or lost. Includes both checked bags and carry-ons.
- Roadside Dispatch:
- If you have a roadside emergency, call 1-800-847-2869 anytime to get help. Dispatchers can help with anything from a tow or jumpstart to a tire change, lockout service, winching or gas delivery. Does not include service fees, which will be billed to your card.
- Travel Accident Insurance:
- When you pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation with your card, you are eligible to receive accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000.
- Travel and Emergency Assistance Services:
- If you run into a problem away from home, call the Benefit Administrator for legal and medical referrals or other travel and emergency assistance. You will be responsible for the cost of any goods or services obtained.