Southwest Premier Card Review: Solid Card for Southwest Loyalists



Our take: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a solid choice for people who prefer Southwest Airlines. Its earning power and benefits easily cover the card’s annual fee.

Pros

  • Receive 6,000 anniversary points each year
  • Valuable benefits for Southwest travelers
  • Earns Companion Pass and A-List qualifying points

Cons

  • Does not include travel protections
  • Limited redemption options for Southwest points
  • Cannot book premium cabin flights

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Highlights

  • Card type: Airline, Southwest, Travel
  • Welcome Bonus: 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual Fee: $99

Rewards: Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, 1X points on all other purchases.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card Overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a solid choice for people who “LUV” to fly Southwest. It has a reasonable fee of under $100, and its benefits can easily cover the cost when you fly Southwest regularly. The card earns bonus points on purchases with Southwest and its hotel and rental car partners, plus extra points on local transit and streaming, cable, internet and phone services. Plus, your spending can earn points towards qualifying for A-List status and the airline’s Companion Pass. Cardholders are rewarded for renewing their card each year with anniversary points and EarlyBird Check-in credits.

Who is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card card good for?

The Southwest Premier Card is ideal for travelers who like to fly Southwest but aren’t ready to commit to the higher annual fee of the Southwest Priority Card. While this card’s annual fee of $99 is higher than the Southwest Plus Card (the airline’s entry-level card), the card’s 6,000 anniversary points each year, higher earnings and other perks are worth the extra money. The extra 3,000 points are worth a little over $40, which exceeds the difference in price by itself.

For travelers flying to Southwest’s international destinations, you’ll save money with the Premier Card because it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you stick with the lower-cost Plus Card, you’ll have to pay those fees. Additionally, Southwest travelers who want to earn A-List status are also better off with the Premier Card. It earns 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 you spend, but the Plus Card does not.

Who shouldn’t get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card card?

People who want to travel internationally may be disappointed with the Southwest Premier Card. While Southwest offers limited flights to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, it doesn’t fly to Europe, Asia, Africa or South America. It also doesn’t fly to Canada, which borders the U.S. to the north. Instead, those travelers should apply for a credit card from an airline that flies internationally or partners with airlines that do.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: How to earn rewards

The Southwest Premier card offers four primary ways to earn rewards for cardholders. These opportunities allow cardholders to turn every purchase into Rapid Rewards points towards future travel.

Welcome bonus

As a new cardholder, you can earn a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Spending just under $350 per month during the promotional period enables you to earn the welcome bonus on this card. This card’s minimum spending requirement is also much lower than the $3,000 to $4,000 typically required from a travel credit card.

Category bonuses

Southwest Premier cardholders can earn up to 3X points when making purchases in the card’s bonus categories. This highest bonus category of 3X points on Southwest® purchases, which includes flights, upgrades to another fare class, fees, inflight purchases and more.

When you book hotels and rental cars with Southwest partners, you’ll earn 2X points. The card also earns 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. The final 2X categories are select streaming services and internet, cable and telephone services.

Everyday purchases

Not all of your purchases earn bonus points, but they will earn at least 1X points. With Southwest points worth an average of 1.4 cents each, you’re earning the equivalent of 1.4% back toward travel. There are no limits on the number of Rapid Rewards points you can earn each year.

Referring others to the card

Chase Refer A Friend gives cardholders the opportunity to earn Rapid Rewards points when they refer friends and family. Each successful referral earns 20,000 points, up to a maximum of 100,000 points per year. The bank may send a Form 1099 for the value of the points, which can increase your taxable income.

How to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card rewards

Like many rewards programs, Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed in many ways. Redemption options include Southwest flights, gift cards, merchandise, hotels, experiences, events and more. However, many of these options offer subpar value, so we’re highlighting those that provide the biggest return.

Book Southwest flights

Southwest is popular among travelers because of its low fares, two free checked bags and lack of change or cancellation fees. Rapid Rewards members can redeem points for any seat on any flight without blackout dates. If there’s a cash ticket available, you can book it with points. However, the downside is that Southwest does not offer business or first class flights, so you can’t get extreme value for its points. Instead, each point is worth about 1.4 cents each toward Wanna Get Away fares. You can book other fares, but they generally offer lower value.

Pay Yourself Back

Cardholders may be familiar with the Pay Yourself Back feature from other Chase credit cards. With Pay Yourself Back, you can redeem points for statement credits that cover annual fees or eligible purchases made within the last 90 days on your card. Through March 31, 2024, cardholders can redeem up to $300 worth of points toward grocery purchases. When you redeem points with Pay Yourself Back, you’ll receive 0.8 cents per point. This isn’t a high-value redemption, but it is a good way to turn points into cash when you don’t have immediate travel plans.

Rapid Rewards Access Events

It is hard to place a specific value on exclusive events since many aren’t available for sale to the general public. These events vary throughout the year, and they often have a limited number of tickets for sale. At the time of this article, options included private concerts with Eli Young Band and Echosmith, a Live in the Vineyard event and a golf and pickleball getaway in Cabo San Lucas. For example, tickets to the Echosmith concert were available for 5,000 points (worth approximately $70) and included complimentary cocktails, appetizers and a seated dinner.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card rates and fees

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Purchase APR: 21.49%–28.49% variable

Additional benefits

In addition to earning and redeeming points, the Southwest Premier Card offers benefits that enhance the card’s value.

  • Anniversary bonus. When you renew the card, you’ll receive 6,000 anniversary points each year worth approximately $84.
  • EarlyBird Check-ins. Check into your flights before the 24-hour window with EarlyBird Check-in. Cardholders get two EarlyBirds free per year that avoid extra fees starting at $15.
  • Discount on inflight purchases. Get 25% back on inflight purchases of WiFi, drinks and snacks.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement. Your checked or carry-on luggage is covered against loss or damage for up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance. When your baggage is delayed by six hours or longer, you’ll receive up to $100 per day for each passenger (maximum of three days).
  • No foreign transaction fees. When making purchases outside the U.S., you won’t be charged hidden fees that can be up to 3%.
  • Purchase protection. New purchases are covered against damage or theft for 120 days after the purchase date. Submit claims up to $500 per item, with a maximum of $50,000 per account.
  • Extended warranty protection. Receive an extra year on manufacturer warranties on eligible items.
  • Earn A-List points. For every $10,000 you spend each year, you’ll receive 1,500 A-List tier qualifying points toward elite status.
  • Companion Pass. All points earned on purchases, including the welcome bonus, count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. Plus, cardholders get a boost of 10,000 points each year, which makes it easier to qualify.
  • Complimentary DashPass. Receive free DoorDash DashPass membership through December 31, 2024. This is a value of $9.99 per month.

Credit cards similar to Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

The Southwest Premier Card offers attractive benefits to travelers who prefer Southwest Airlines, but there are other cards that may be a better fit based on their spending habits, goals and travel plans.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Travelers who like Southwest but want more redemption options should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Its points transfer to 14 airlines and hotels, including Southwest, at a 1:1 ratio. Additionally, points can be redeemed for cash back, travel, gift cards and more. When you book travel through Chase, you’ll get 25% more points.

The Sapphire Preferred earns 3x points on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming services, plus 2x points on travel purchases. These bonus categories focusing on everyday purchases may earn more points on everyday purchases than the limited category bonuses of the Southwest Premier Card. Sapphire travel protections also offer greater peace of mind since the Premier Card’s benefits only protect your luggage. With the Sapphire card, you’ll get trip cancellation, interruption and delay protection, plus primary rental car coverage, baggage delay insurance, purchase protection and an extended warranty.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Frequent Southwest travelers may be better off with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. While it has a higher annual fee than the Southwest Premier Card ($149 vs. $99), its $75 annual Southwest credit and four Upgraded Boardings more than makeup for the difference. The welcome bonus, earning power and bonus categories of both cards are the same, so you’ll earn the same number of points no matter which of these cards you use.

Upgraded Boardings start at $30 per segment and claim the best boarding position available between A1 and A15. The Early Bird Checkins that come with the Premier Card start at $15, but they don’t guarantee a boarding position in the A group. Both programs are subject to availability, and you may not be able to use either benefit on your flight.

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

The Southwest Premier is an excellent option for travelers who want to earn Rapid Rewards points but aren’t ready to commit to the higher annual fee of the Southwest Priority Card. It earns 3X points on Southwest® purchases and includes numerous benefits for Southwest flights, elite status and the Companion Pass. This card is a keeper year after year because of its anniversary bonus and two complimentary EarlyBird Check-ins each year more than cover the cost of its annual fee.

Frequently asked questions

How much is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card annual fee?

The annual fee for the Southwest Premier Card is $99. To offset this cost, it includes 6,000 anniversary points each year worth $84 toward flights and two EarlyBird Check-ins that are worth at least $15 each. If you enjoy flying Southwest Airlines, these benefits are worth the annual fee.

Can I upgrade from Southwest Plus to Premier?

Yes, you can contact Chase customer service and request an upgrade from Southwest Plus to the Premier Card. However, you generally won’t earn a welcome bonus when upgrading. For this reason, many customers close their Plus Card and apply for a new Premier Card for the opportunity to earn a bonus.

Is upgrading to the Southwest Priority Card worth it?

People who travel on Southwest frequently will find value in upgrading to the Southwest Priority Card. Although it has a $149 annual fee, it includes four Upgraded Boardings and an annual $75 Southwest credit. The credits reduce your net out-of-pocket cost to just $74, which is lower than what you’ll pay for the Premier Card.

Please note that card details are accurate as of the publish date, but are subject to change at any time at the discretion of the issuer. Please contact the card issuer to verify rates, fees, and benefits before applying.



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