Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Review: A travel rewards card worth smiling about

Pair of backpackers looking at a map on the side of the road, talking about maybe getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card so that they can fly instead of walk next time. Pair of backpackers looking at a map on the side of the road, talking about maybe getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card so that they can fly instead of walk next time. Image:

In a Nutshell

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers two points per $1 on Southwest flights, plus an annual anniversary bonus of 6,000 points. You get 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

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Loyal members of the Southwest Airlines® frequent-flyer program, Rapid Rewards®, will tell you there’s a lot to love about the famously friendly carrier.

Everyone who flies Southwest can take advantage of perks such as free checked bags and honey-roasted peanuts, but even more rewards are reserved for those with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card in their wallet.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

With this travel rewards card, you’ll get two points for every $1 you spend on Southwest purchases and purchases at participating Rapid Rewards® hotel and rental car partners. You’ll also get one point for every $1 spent on other purchases. And unlike most cards, you’ll get one point for each $1 transferred to your balance, up to $15,000, within the first 90 days of account opening.

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That could add up to a ton of miles if you fly with Southwest and shop at Rapid Rewards® partners such as Best Western, Avis and Booking.com on a regular basis. If that doesn’t sound like you, other travel rewards cards may offer more flexibility — and more chances to rack up points — than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.


What we like Heads up
  • 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • 6,000-point bonus after your card member anniversary
  • Two points for every $1 spent on Southwest tickets
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $99 annual fee that’s applied to your first billing statement
  • No flexibility to transfer points to other airline partners

    1. The rundown: Everything we like about Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
    2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying
    3. Do the math: How to get the most out of Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
    4. The competition: How Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card stacks up against similar cards
    5. Bottom line: Is Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card right for you?
    6. Reviews roundup: What our members say about Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The rundown: Everything we like about Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Co-branded airline cards can be hit or miss — especially if you don’t particularly favor one airline over the others. But if you’re one of the many folks who swear by Southwest, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can be a rewarding addition to your wallet. Here’s what we like about it:

Collect points from the get-go

You’ll earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

If you’re not ready to fly yet, don’t worry — points don’t expire as long as you have flight-earning or partner-earning activity at least once every two years.

Two points per $1 spent with Southwest and its partners

Sure, you’ll get two points for every $1 spent on Southwest tickets, but this card doesn’t just offer extra points on flights – you’ll also rack up points by shopping with Rapid Rewards® hotel and rental car partners.

A swoon-worthy anniversary gift

You’ll get a 6,000-point bonus after your card member anniversary.

Super-easy redemption and booking

No blackout dates or seat restrictions mean you can redeem points to fly when and where you want.

No foreign transaction fees

Don’t pay more across the globe. Use this card outside the U.S. and avoid paying an extra fee on every purchase.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying

This card is pretty clearly geared toward Southwest Airlines® customers, and it may not be the best fit for everyone. Here’s a quick rundown of what to look out for before applying:

Annual fee from the start

This card charges a $99 annual fee that’s applied to your first billing statement. Other travel rewards cards, such as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, waive the annual fee ($95) for the first year, while some, such as the JetBlue Card, don’t charge an annual fee at all.

No airline partners

Other co-branded airline cards may offer a bit more flexibility than Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. That’s because Southwest isn’t a member of one of the three major airline alliances (Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam), whose members often allow for sharing between different frequent-flyer programs.

5% balance transfer fee

This card isn’t the best option if you plan to transfer a large balance, as it charges a relatively high fee of 5%, minimum; $5 for each transfer.

Do the math: Is Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card right for you?

Whether this card is right for you depends on how often you fly Southwest Airlines®. One way Southwest rewards loyalty is by offering the Companion Pass, which lets customers choose a guest to fly almost free. As a cardholder, you have a leg up on other Southwest customers to collect qualifying points toward a Companion Pass.

New card members have the chance to earn a 40,000 points if they spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Earn additional qualifying points by flying Southwest and shopping through its travel, retail, restaurant, home and lifestyle partners. And as a cardholder, you also get an extra way to earn points — your points earned on your card are also used toward the Companion Pass.

To qualify for a Companion Pass, you need to earn 110,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines® within a calendar year. If you reach either threshold, Southwest will give you a Companion Pass for the following year (plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it).

Now, you likely noticed that we said “almost free” flights. We add that caveat because you would still need to pay taxes and fees for your companion. That’ll cost at least $5.60. It’s still a great deal, but it’s important to note so you’re not surprised.

The competition: How Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card stacks up against similar cards

JetBlue Card 3 points per $1 spent on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and grocery stores, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express  2 miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases and 1 mile per $1 spent elsewhere
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® 2 AAdvantage® miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, at restaurants and at gas stations

JetBlue Card

From our partner

JetBlue Card

From cardholders in the last year

The JetBlue Card offers a higher rewards rate for JetBlue flights (three points per $1) than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card does for Southwest purchases (two points per $1), and it manages to do so without charging an annual fee. Plus, the JetBlue Card offers double points at restaurants and grocery stores, so everyday purchases can really rev up your reward earnings.

On the flip side, the sign-up bonus — 5,000 points if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days after account opening — is substantially less than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card‘s 40,000-point bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

From our partner

The Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers similar travel rewards to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. You’ll earn two miles per $1 spent on Delta purchases and one mile per $1 spent on other eligible purchases. The card comes with an annual fee of $0 intro, $95 after first year.

Plus, earn 30,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Plus earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new card in the first three months of account opening.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

From our partner

With the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, you’ll earn two AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, at restaurants and at gas stations. This card has an annual fee of $99, waived the first year, plus preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and a free checked bag on domestic flights. It also offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles when you spend $2,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.


Bottom line: Is Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card right for you?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card could be an excellent choice if you’re a loyal Southwest customer, but those who value flexibility may want to look elsewhere.

If you’re not loyal to a particular brand, consider a card that offers points redeemable for travel with any airline or hotel. Some options to look at include the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Reviews roundup: What our members say about Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

“Fantastic card with great benefits”

★★★★★

Feb 20, 2018

This is a great card for daily use, especially if you live near a Southwest airport. RR card quickly became my ‘top of the wallet’ card for everything. Point system is less stingy than other airline cards. This card can contribute greatly toward Southwest Companion Pass. Customer support is also great. All and all, a great card!

–Credit Karma user Araz

“Great card for frequent travelers!”

★★★★★

Jun 21, 2017

I applied for this card about two years ago when I started a job which required me to travel. At the time, credit scores were around 620. I was approved for a $2k credit limit. After two years of using this card and paying on time, I called yesterday and asked if they’d increase my limit. The raised it up to $7k (my scores on CK are both 660). Love this card and the travel rewards!

–Credit Karma user JessieKayMo

“I Fly Southwest!!”

★★★★★

Mar 14, 2017

I primarily fly Southwest for business so it make sense to use this card frequently. Never have a problem getting my points and have enjoyed many free flights with rewards program. If you travel for business and use Southwest this card is a must have. If not, don’t get it. Very simple.

–Credit Karma user cacole1022

“It is probably the best airline program.”

★★★★★

Feb 28, 2017

I have flown SWA frequently to most areas of the country over the past 30 years. We have used the Visa Rapid Rewards card exclusively and have benefitted in many ways. Accumulated points are used by my children to fly from their college town home often. By accumulating 125,000 points, my wife becomes a companion and flies with me being charged only $5.20 each way any time we fly together. Utilizing this program, we have saved significant sums and have freed up our children to visit us often and vise versa. The ease in booking with credit cards or points is phenomenal unmatched by any other airline.

–Credit Karma user Anonymous

“Quick application”

★★★★

Jun 26, 2017

I was approved for this card with a 740 Fico score and $53k yearly income. They gave me $8500 credit limit on this one.

–Credit Karma user Mns38

Read more reviews for Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

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