Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

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Top-flight rewards for frequent Southwest fliers.

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If you live in a city served by Southwest Airlines, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card can help you rapidly earn rewards towards flights. This card is the big brother card to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card with the same sign-up bonus and rewards structure but with some extras at a slightly higher ownership cost.

Review

If you want a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, but you’re not sure whether to get the Premier or the Plus, Bankrate thinks you should go for Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. With a $99 fee per year, the Premier card costs $30 more than the Plus version, but makes up for it by giving you 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend per year, up to a 15,000-point maximum.

You still get the same sign-up bonus of 60,000 points that Plus card holders get if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account, and you’ll even earn an additional 6,000 bonus points each year (compared to just 3,000 bonus points with the Plus). This could quickly add up to the 110,000 points required to earn Southwest Airlines’ much-heralded Companion Pass offer, one of the most generous airline perks we’ve ever seen.

You need at least 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points or 25 one-way flights per calendar year to qualify for Southwest’s A-List status, which comes with perks like priority boarding, a 25% points bonus on each flight, and no charge for same-day standby flights. The Plus version doesn’t offer an opportunity to earn Tier Qualifying Points through spending.

The Premier doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, an important perk if you fly to any of the international destinations served by Southwest.

If you only fly Southwest Airlines occasionally, you’re probably better off with a general purpose travel card that offers flexible rewards to use any way you’d like. Bankrate gave the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard high marks for their low annual fees, high earnings rate on travel and flexibility in redeeming rewards. They both have strong sign-up bonuses too.

Who should get this card

Frequent Southwest fliers aiming for A-list status with the airline.

Fees and APR

  • This card has a $99 annual fee.
  • There’s a variable APR on purchases and balance transfers of 16.99% to 23.99% based on creditworthiness.
  • Late payments won’t affect your APR but you will be subject to a penalty fee of up to $37 for each late payment.
  • Balance transfers will be subject to a 5% fee of the amount being transferred.

Extras, perks and using points

This card comes with Visa Signature benefits which include auto and travel protections and insurance and hotel discounts and benefits at participating properties. It also provides extended warranty protections on qualifying purchases.

To redeem your points, go to Southwest.com and log into your Rapid Rewards account. When searching for your itinerary choose the “Points” option instead of Dollars. Select the fare you want and then check out using points to pay. You have to have enough Rapid Rewards points to cover the amount required for the flight. You cannot pay with a combination of points and cash. All applicable taxes and fees must be paid for with either a credit card, debit card, or a Southwest gift card.

Rapid Rewards Credit Card members can also redeem their Rapid Rewards points for hotel stays, rental cars, gift cards, event tickets, merchandise, and other unique experiences.

How this card compares

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways purchases.
  • Earn 2 points at Southwest Hotel and Car Rental Partners.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Credit Needed

Excellent

Regular APR

16.99% to 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Annual Fee

$69 annual fee.

Balance Transfers Intro APR

Southwest enthusiasts love the airline for its liberal policies. There are no blackout dates, no change fees and no charge for the first two checked bags. And perhaps the biggest perk of being a Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card holder is the opportunity to earn a pile of points through the sign-up bonus towards their unbeatable Companion Pass offer, which allows you to fly a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, as often as you like for just the cost of taxes and fees.

JetBlue Card
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days
  • Earn 3 points per $1 spent on JetBlue purchases, 2 points per $1 at restaurants and grocery stores and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates on JetBlue-operated flights & redeem for any seat, any time on JetBlue-operated flights. Points required for an Award Flight will vary based on the published base fare at the time of booking
  • Points awarded in your TrueBlue account don't expire
  • Earn and share points together with Family Pooling
  • 50% savings on eligible inflight purchases like cocktails and food on JetBlue-operated flights
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Chip technology & $0 Fraud Liability protection

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Credit Needed

Good

Regular APR

12.99%, 20.99% or 25.99% variable

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

The JetBlue Card allows you to pool points with family members and the points never expire. There are also no blackout dates, potentially making it easier to redeem your miles for the times you want to travel. This card’s sign-up bonus could be enough for a free flight if you’re able to snag one of the lowest point redemption award offers at 3,500 points.

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 30,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
  • Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
  • Settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Credit Needed

Excellent

Regular APR

16.74% to 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening. This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Annual Fee

$0 for the first year, then $95.

Balance Transfers Intro APR

Delta enthusiasts should consider adding this card to their wallets, just for the mileage potential. Earn two miles for every $1 spent on Delta purchases with the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, and one mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. If you belong to the SkyMiles Loyalty Program you’ll earn an additional five miles for every $1 spent on airline tickets. This means a Delta airline ticket bought from the airline can snag cardholders a whopping seven miles per $1 spent. For the $95 annual fee, waived the first year, you also get a free checked bag.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a fee for balance transfers.
Credit Needed

Excellent

Regular APR

16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$89 - Waived first year

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfers Intro APR

0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will likely appeal to those who want the most flexible redemption options for their miles. You can use your earnings to book travel, get a statement credit for travel purchases, or for gift cards and select merchandise. This may be of greater value to you depending on your spending habits.

 

EDITORIAL NOTE

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.