Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review

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Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card snapshot

Flying can be pricey but you can trim down the cost by packing a rewards credit card on every trip. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card makes for an excellent travel companion if you prefer Southwest to other airlines.

This card comes with the kind of perks that are sure to appeal to frequent flyers, including free checked bags (weight and size limit apply) and no foreign transaction fees. The ability to earn points towards flights on every purchase, along with a generous new cardmember bonus offer are even more reasons to consider adding the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to your travel roster.

Learn More: Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers from Our Partners

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card highlights

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual fee:$99 applied to first billing statement
Foreign transaction fee:None
Bonus offer:Eligible new Cardmembers earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
Rewards program:Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
Earn 1 point for every dollar you spend on all other purchases.
Anniversary bonus:Receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
We think it's great for:Frequent Southwest® travelers
Someone who's looking for a bonus offer
We think these folks should do more research:Someone who doesn't travel to/from a city served by Southwest®
Someone who carries a balance from month to month
Additional notes:Terms and conditions apply

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card basics

There’s a lot to like about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, starting with the ample points bonus that qualifying new cardmembers earn. Qualifying members have a chance to earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases. Earn 1 point for every dollar on all other purchases.

Any time you fly Southwest®, your first and second checked bags fly free, weight and size limits apply. You won’t pay a change fee if you need to adjust or cancel your plans for any reason, fare difference may apply. You can redeem your points for awards travel at any time. This card has no foreign transaction fees so we think it’s a great option for international travelers, and it comes with extras like Lost Luggage Reimbursement, Baggage Delay Insurance and Purchase Protection for the things you buy. Once your account is open you will receive a Guide to Benefits which will include the benefits available with this card and information on any restrictions, limitation and exclusions that apply to these benefits.

You’ll pay a $99 annual fee for this card, applied to your first billing statement but in return,  you receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year. Those points may offset the annual fee, assuming you use the points.

How does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card compare to other travel cards?

Before locking in on a travel rewards card, it’s a good idea to see what else is out there. Check out these travel cards from our partners by clicking here.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card rewards

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You’ve got a few different ways to earn points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. First, you earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases. Earn 1 point for every dollar on all other purchases. That’s great if you plan to use the card for travel and everyday spending. You can earn unlimited points that don’t expire as long as your card account is open.

Points can be redeemed for domestic and international flights on Southwest®. Southwest® flies all over the U.S., plus the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. You can also redeem your points for hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card pros

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has quite a few things going for it, beyond its rewards structure. There’s the 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary. Those extra points can put you on the path towards travel faster and help to offset the $99 annual fee.

We also like this card because booking travel is a breeze. There are no blackout dates. You can use your points for a flight any time a seat is available. That flexibility in booking is something that you don’t always find with other airline co-branded travel rewards cards. Southwest is rare in that it does not charge a change or cancellation fee when you need to adjust your plans, however fare differences may apply.

We’d certainly recommend this card if you’re a member of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® frequent flyer program and you want a way to earn companion passes faster. Generally, to earn a companion pass you have to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn a Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it. If you use your card to book a flight, you can earn points for the purchase and frequent flyer points, which would get you closer to your goal in less time. A companion pass allows the person of your choosing to travel with you for free, companion pass does not include taxes and fees, which need to be paid by the Cardmember.

If you earn 70,000 tier qualifying points in a single calendar year, you can qualify for A-List Preferred status in the program. At that level, you can get a 100% points earning bonus on every qualifying flight, priority boarding, priority check-in, free in-flight WiFi and free same-day standby boarding if you need a last-minute flight.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card cons

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As far as drawbacks go, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card does have a few issues that might be a turn-off for certain travelers.

For instance, there’s no introductory period for the annual fee; the $99 fee is applied to your first billing statement.

It also does not offer a 0% introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on balance transfers or purchases, so it may not be a good choice for someone looking to save on interest charges by transferring a balance from another card (Chase may periodically offer a zero percent introductory balance transfer opportunity to existing Cardmembers).

While this card does have some travel benefits, it doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as other cards. For instance, you won’t get free lounge access or complimentary concierge service. If those kinds of things are important to you, you may want to consider a different card. Indeed, many of Southwest’s perks (free 1st & 2nd checked bags, $0 change fees) are available to all of its customers, not just holders of the co-branded card.

Should you get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card?

If you want a way to earn rewards for flights that isn’t overly complicated, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card delivers. The $99 annual fee might scare some folks off, but if you love flying Southwest® and you are able to use the card anniversary bonus points, you should be able to get that value back in travel.

Before you apply, take a peek at your free Credit Sesame credit report card to make sure your credit is up to par.

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Terms and conditions apply.


Independent Review Disclosure: All the information about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditSesame.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is not available through CreditSesame.com.

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Published July 11, 2016
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