Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Get rewarded with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is an ideal choice for frequent travelers who fly with Southwest. You’ll get 2x points on every dollar you spend with the card on Southwest Airlines and with Rapid Rewards partners. 

One of the main selling points of Southwest airline loyalty programs is the possibility of earning a valuable Companion Pass. Southwest waives the cost of a companion ticket when you fly with your designated companion after you earn 110,000 points in 2019. The 40,000-point new member bonus with this card gets you more than a third of the way to your Companion Pass. 

What to expect from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card

  • APR: 17.49% to 24.49% variable, based on creditworthiness
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Reward Rates: Two points for every $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and with participating Rapid Rewards car rental and hotel partners, one point for every $1 spent on everything else.
  • Intro Offer: New cardholders can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 with the card within three months of opening the account.

Even better

  • Earn 6,000 anniversary points each year, which goes a long way in helping you cancel out the annual fee.
  • Unlimited rewards seats without restrictions or blackout dates, so you can fly whenever it’s most convenient to you.
  • No foreign transaction fees, so travel as much as you like without fear.
  • Earn 110,000 points in 2019 or 125,000 points In 2020, and Southwest rewards you with a free Companion Pass. You can also get a Companion Pass after you take 100 one-way revenue Southwest flights in one year. This allows you to bring anyone along on any trip within the United States. You’ll only pay taxes and fees on the companion flight.
  • Because Southwest doesn’t have a lot of international flights, you can redeem points for select international flights not operated by Southwest.

But keep your eyes open for pitfalls

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card doesn’t offer an introductory APR on purchases or balance transfers. In fact, you may not be able to transfer your balance from another card even if you want to. In the fine print, Chase notes that the account may not be eligible for balance transfers.

If you need this feature, the Citi Simplicity credit card offers 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for an attention-getting 21 months. It also never charges a late fee or an annual fee. 

For spending outside of Southwest airlines and their hotel or rental car partners, you’ll earn one mile for every dollar spent with the card. Points expire if the account is inactive for 24 months or longer. If you want to use this as an everyday spending credit card, you could do better in broad spending categories like restaurants or transportation with an alternative card. 

Some of the perks listed as benefits of owning the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card are also available by enrolling in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, open to every traveler at no cost. 

Unlike some competing travel rewards cards, you won’t get airport lounge access, credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fees or early boarding privileges with this card. 

How to maximize your Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier rewards

New users can qualify for a nice-sized welcome bonus of 40,000 bonus points after spending an average of $334 per month with the card during the first three months. You’ll also get 6,000 anniversary points each year to help give you a boost toward reaching your travel goals. 

When you redeem points for flights, it’s important to pay attention to how much value you get per point. Points could be worth as much as 1.5 to 1.8 cents each, depending on how you redeem them. Southwest allows you to view various fairs in points after logging into your Rapid Rewards account. Depending on your destination, you may be able to redeem points for rental cars and hotel stays with companies not owned by Southwest.  

When shopping for hotel accommodations, check out the list of hotels where you could get 2x points when you pay with your Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. Some of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards hotel partners include Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Choice Hotels, Marriott Hotels and MGM Resorts. You can also earn double points on car rental spending with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty. 

Consider doubling up on rewards cards for spending in areas where the Southwest Rapid Rewards card offers one point per dollar spent. The Capital One Venture Rewards credit card offers 2x miles on dining and everything else you spend with the card. But, you’ll get a hefty 10x bonus on purchases. This card also offers a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees, making it an ideal partner for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card.

Another great dining rewards card that you could pair with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards card. You’ll get unlimited 3% cash back rewards on dining and 2% cash back at grocery stores with no annual fee. 

If you are short on points, you have the option of purchasing them through the Southwest online portal. You can buy points from other Rapid Rewards members or from Southwest. Purchased points don’t count toward the threshold for earning a Companion Pass, however. If you don’t have enough points to book a flight, consider purchasing the return fare and booking the destination flight with points. 

Bottom line

If you frequently travel on Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card could help you get closer to a valuable Companion Pass reward. Pairing it with another rewards card to maximize your cash back rewards for dining out or getting groceries is a great way to get you closer to paying for your dream trip with credit card rewards.