Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card review

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Snapshot

3.7

Bankrate rating
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Best Southwest value card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Rewards rate

2X–3X

Annual fee

$99

Intro offer

Earn 40,000 points.

Regular APR

16.24% to 23.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Overview

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

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • This card has a $99 annual fee.
  • There’s a variable APR on purchases and balance transfers of 16.24 percent to 23.24 percent variable based on creditworthiness.
  • You will be subject to a penalty fee of up to $40 for each late payment, plus a penalty APR of up to 29.99 percent.
  • Balance transfers will be subject to a 5 percent fee of the amount being transferred, or $5, whichever is greater.

Review

If you want a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, but you’re not sure whether to get the Premier or the Plus, you may want to aim for the 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 (TQP) for every $10,000 you spend per year, with no limit. The Premier card also provides a few more perks and a bigger account anniversary bonus—6,000 points compared to the Plus card’s 3,000-point bonus.

Despite being the middle ground Southwest rewards card, the Southwest Premier only offers an additional Southwest Rapid Rewards point per dollar on Southwest purchases compared to the lower-tier Rapid Rewards Plus card, meaning it carries the exact same rewards rate as the top-of-the-line Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: 3X points on Southwest purchases, 2X points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting (including rideshare), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services—all other purchases earn 1X points.

The Southwest Premier card also comes with a welcome bonus of 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months following account opening. While you can earn a decent number points with this new bonus, its total value falls a bit short of the card’s previous limited-time offer of 30,000 bonus points and a Companion Pass after a $5,000 spend in your first three months. We estimated that bonus was worth a total of around $1,000 (we estimated the Companion Pass was worth $550 for the average traveler* and the bonus points worth $450, based on a 1.5-cent point valuation from The Points Guy). Based on a value of 1.5 cents per point, the new offer is only worth about $600. Still, this is solid value given the card’s relatively low annual fee and account anniversary bonus.

The Premier card also gets you a head start toward elite status. 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 percent points bonus on each flight, and no charge for same-day standby flights. The Plus card doesn’t offer an opportunity to earn Tier Qualifying Points through spending, and the Priority card offers the exact same 1,500-Tier Qualifying Point feature as the Premier card.

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. We gave the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card excellent marks for their low annual fees, high earnings rate on travel and flexibility in redeeming rewards. They both have strong sign-up bonuses too

*Our calculations took into account the $275 average domestic round trip cost (Southwest passengers tend to fly domestically) and the historical trend reported by Gallup estimating that the average passenger flies about twice a year, factoring in for round trips. However, you can stack up even more value flying internationally, which averages $735 per round trip.

Extras, perks and reward redemption

This card comes with Visa Signature benefits which include auto and travel protections, hotel discounts and benefits at participating properties. Visa Signature cards also provide a variety of purchase protections and travel insurances, like extended warranty coverage on qualifying purchases, lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay insurance. To squeeze even more value from your Southwest flights, your first and second checked bags are $0 with no change fee via the Travel with Transfarency® benefit, you’ll receive 25 percent back on eligible inflight purchases and you can expedite the boarding process with two complimentary EarlyBird Check-in® upgrades each year (an up to $50 value).

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 international flights with global carriers, hotel stays, rental cars, gift cards, event tickets, merchandise and other unique experiences (redemption value may vary).

Bankrate’s Take: Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card worth it?

Yes, for frequent Southwest fliers aiming for A-list status with the airline.