Full Review of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Allows you to supplement Southwest miles earned through flying
Generous introductory and anniversary rewards bonuses
$99 annual fee applies
No luxury travel benefits
- Allows You to Supplement Southwest Points Earned Through Flying: By rewarding you with 2 points for every dollar spent at Southwest, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases, this card provides an additional method, other than taking Southwest flights, to earn loyalty points with the airline. Those rewards points can be used towards flights, of course, and they simultaneously put you on the fast track to earning a free Companion Pass. The pass allows someone to fly with you free of charge (plus taxes and fees) on all your flights after you complete 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points within a year. The perk runs for a full year plus the remainder of the year in which you reached the milestone.
- Generous Introductory and Anniversary Rewards Bonuses: In addition to earning points on purchases with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa, the card offers several other opportunities to accumulate rewards. The introductory bonus offer, which we'll explain in more detail later, provides as many as 40,000 points, which are worth just under $600 (based on our valuation of a Southwest point at $0.0149) when used to redeem for flights. Cardmembers also annually receive a 6,000 point bonus on their first and subsequent anniversaries.
- $99 Annual Fee Applies: You can't earn points for free with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card, even in your first year with it. The card’s $99 annual fee is added to your first account statement, and annually thereafter.
- No Luxury Travel Perks: Other airline cards pamper you with perks like complimentary lounge access and credits for on-board food and drinks and the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. This card has few of those niceties. The Companion Pass is about as luxe as its travel benefits get.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
Like most airline cards, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa is purpose-built to serve dedicated customers of its branded airline. Delivering at least 40,000 points, the card’s introductory bonus alone more than justifies its $99 fee for the first year.
After that, the annual 6,000-point anniversary bonus helps the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa make financial sense even to those who fly Southwest only a few times a year. Cardholders can earn further points by using the card on those trips to pay for hotel stays and rental cars with Southwest partners.
Purchases on the card also promise to bring frequent Southwest travelers closer to the six-figure annual mileage needed to earn the Companion Pass that allows them to bring a travel partner with them on all flights for a year.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Bonus
This card has an outstanding one time bonus. You can earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
As is customary with many cards, to qualify for the bonus, you can't currently own a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card or have received a new cardmember bonus for one in the past 24 months. But you also can’t have received a new cardmember bonus from Chase, the card’s issuer, within the previous 24 months, excepting bonuses for business credit cards.
Rewards Earning Details
You can earn two tiers of rewards with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa. First, you can earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases. Qualifying transactions include payment for flights and incidentals as well as purchases made at partner hotels and rental car companies.
To earn the 2 points per dollar at travel partners, you need to book with them directly or through Southwest.com. If you use your card to book through a third-party site, like Hotels.com or Expedia, you'll earn just 1 point per dollar. All other purchases made with the card earn 1 point per dollar.
Interestingly, this card also offers 1 point per dollar on balance transfers made within the first 90 days, up to $15,000. That's a feature you don't often see with other rewards cards, although many of those extend a period of 0% APR on such transfers, which this card doesn’t do.
There are no limits on the number of points you can earn. Each year, members can earn 6,000 anniversary bonus points. You can also earn 10,000 points for each person you refer to either of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, this one or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card, with its $149 annual fee. The bonus is good for up to 5 referrals per year or 50,000 points.
Rewards Redemption Details
The most obvious way to redeem points earned with this card is for flights aboard Southwest. The number of points needed to redeem depends on the fare. There are no blackout dates for using rewards.
Besides Southwest airfare, you can also redeem rewards for:
- Gift cards
- International flights aboard 50+ carriers
- Hotel stays with partner brands
- Rental cars
- Exclusive experiences
Again, the number of points you need to redeem and their associated value depends on the redemption option.
While you can redeem rewards earned with this card for flights on Southwest’s international partners, you can't directly transfer points to Southwest’s other travel partner’s loyalty programs—which many other major airlines’ loyalty programs allow. That may be a drawback if you're looking for a rewards card that offers more flexibility in how you can book with travel points.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
There are multiple ways to maximize your rewards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa credit card. The first is to earn the 40,000-point bonus. To do that, you first need to spend $1,000, on any purchases, within the first three months with the card, an easy goal for almost anyone to meet. That earns you 40,000 points, worth about $600 when used to buy flights.
One way to achieve that is by flying with Southwest and staying loyal to the airline's partners when you make other travel arrangements. You can earn Southwest points if you book with rental-car partners, which include Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National, or with hotel partners, which include Marriott, Radisson, and Best Western.
If you don't spend $1,000 or so a month with Southwest and its partners, as needed to qualify for the further 20,000 points, you could make up the difference by charging everyday expenses, such as groceries, online shopping, or gas. But you should compare the value of earning the additional bonus points to the benefit you might get by charging those expenses to another card that offers more than 1.5% in value per dollar spent, which is the close to the effective rate earned with the 1 point per dollar spent earned with this card.
You should sign up for email updates that make you aware of special promotions that can boost the points you earn, or the price you pay, on flights or goods and services from Southwest partners.
You can also earn more rewards by referring people to the card. If they open a new account, that's an easy 10,000 bonus points you can earn with little effort. Remember, this bonus maxes out at 50,000 points per year.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa Credit Card's Outstanding Benefits
- $0 fee for first and second checked bags
- Earn tier qualifying points toward Rapid Rewards A-List and A-List Preferred Status
- Contactless pay
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Baggage delay insurance
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection
This card is issued by Chase, which earned an 807 rating in J.D. Power's 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. That places it a little above the national average, and in a tie for third place with Capital One, for consumer satisfaction with credit cards.
You can manage your card online or through the Chase app to track purchases, set up alerts or review your points earned. If you have questions or need help with your account, customer service is available by phone at 1-800-432-3117.
This card is EMV-chip enabled for security and Chase routinely monitors accounts to detect suspicious or fraudulent activity. You can also set up security alerts in your account to notify you of new transactions. If your card is lost or stolen, you can log into your Chase account online and use the lock/unlock feature to secure it against unauthorized purchases.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa is a no-frills airline card that offers decent 2-points-per-dollar on purchases from the airline and its partners, but little else except the absence of a foreign-transaction fee for international travel. It offers none of the travel perks of some other airline cards, and offers only 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
This card is worthwhile, then, only for those who travel frequently on Southwest and who want to use its sizable initial bonus points to buy flights and perhaps work their way towards a free Companion Pass or a higher membership tier of Southwest's loyalty program. Otherwise, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa is a questionable choice for those who fly a number of airlines and don't want to commit to paying an annual fee for a card that earns only Southwest points.
Such consumers may be better off with a general travel credit card whose rewards are more versatile. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for instance, offers 2 points on travel and dining but you're not limited to flying Southwest to earn those points.