Credit Card Credit Card Reviews

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

overall rating
3.2

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The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier credit card can pay off for people who travel a lot on the airline, which typically scores very well in customer-satisfaction surveys. Members earn a generous introductory points bonus and earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines travel, with no foreign transaction fee. After the first year, there’s also a 6,000-point anniversary bonus whose value when used for Southwest Flights can help justify the card’s ongoing $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

overall rating
3
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
On Chase's Secured Site.

Current Offer:

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
how this card stacks up
When compared among all rewards cards in our database:
Rewards
Benefits
Low Fees
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
worst best

Full Review of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Pros
  • Allows you to supplement Southwest miles earned through flying

  • Generous introductory and anniversary rewards bonuses

Cons
  • $99 annual fee applies

  • No luxury travel benefits

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • $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

  • Avatar for Loyalty Status Seeker Persona
    Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
    Loyalty Status Seeker
  • Avatar for Frequent Flyer Persona
    Flies often for business or leisure
    Frequent Flyer
  • Avatar for Frequent Diner Persona
    Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
    Frequent Diner
  • Avatar for International Traveler Persona
    Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
    International Traveler

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
  • Merchandise
  • 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. 

Transferring Points

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

Standard Perks

  • Contactless pay
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection

Cardholder Experience

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.

Security Features

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. 

Our Verdict

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.

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For Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
on Chase's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
overall rating
3.2
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.49% - 24.49% variable
Annual Fee $99
Rewards Earning Rate 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.