Credit Card Review: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

by joeheg

When Southwest only had two personal co-brand cards, the Premier was the better of the two. Since the introduction of the Rapid Rewards Priority card, the Premier card is now the middle card in the portfolio. Is the card worthwhile getting, or has it become the Jan Brady of Southwest co-brand cards, always getting ignored because everyone is looking at the flashier sister?


If you decide that you want to sign up for the Southwest Premier card, or any of the Southwest credit cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our link. We receive Southwest points for each referral, and that helps us keep Your Mileage May Vary HQ going strong.

Southwest Premier

Annual Fee

$99 Annual Fee

Sign Up Bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Premier card is 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Over the past year, this bonus has been as high as 60,000 points, and for a time, Southwest offered a Companion Pass as the signup bonus. 50,000 points are worth $650 when used to book Southwest flights. I’ll let you decide if you want to sign up now or wait to see if the bonus might go up again (I’m betting it will).

Note: To receive this bonus, Chase puts the following restrictions on applications.

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

This card is also subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program as follows:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 on local transit and committing, including rideshare
  • 2 points per $1 on internet, cable and phone services; select streaming.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

I’m unclear about which purchases for hotels and rental cars will earn two points. Is it through any company that partners with Southwest, or do you have to book through Southwest? The documentation on this benefit is very vague on which expenses will qualify.

Card Benefits

The Southwest Premier card does have some benefits for keeping it past the first year. Unlike most airline co-brand cards that offer a free checked bag or priority seating, those benefits don’t mean anything with Southwest, so they offer something different.

  • 6,000-anniversary points each year. Valuing Southwest points at 1.3 cents each, that’s a $78 value. But that’s like buying Southwest points, and I hate to purchase points. What else?
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In each year. Each EarlyBird costs $15-$25, so that’s up to a $50 savings.
  • Earn tier qualifying points – You’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases annually. TQPs can be used to count toward qualification for Rapid Rewards A-List or A-List Preferred status. A-List starts at 35,000 TQP. You can use this to get over the top if you’re close to qualifying, but that’s about it.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Points earned with the card count towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass. Some people find ways to manufacture enough spending to receive a pass each year.
  • Cardholders get a 10,000-point boost towards a Companion Pass each year. These aren’t redeemable points, as they only count towards the pass.
  • 25% back on inflight purchases.

Ways to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points

The points you earn with the signup bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. From there, you can use the points to book flights on Southwest. The number of points needed for a particular Southwest® flight is set by Southwest and will vary depending on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare type, point redemption rate, and other factors, and is subject to change at any time until the booking is confirmed.

Figure that you’ll get approximately 1.3 cents per Southwest point. How much you’ll pay for a ticket is directly related to how much that ticket costs. The nice thing is that you’ll never have a blackout date from redeeming points on Southwest. Prices might be high, but you’ll always be able to use points as long as there’s a cash ticket available.

Final Thoughts

If you think the Southwest Premier card is right for you, here’s our referral link. 

I’ve had this card and held onto it for a few years. However, upon reflection, I realized that the only benefit it was giving me was buying Southwest points for 1.65 cents each. This was not a wise decision as these points could only be redeemed for 1.3 cents of value, meaning I was losing money every year. Eventually, I closed the account.

Since then Southwest has significantly improved the card. They’ve added bonus categories besides once related to Southwest Airlines spending. In addition, the two EarlyBird Check-In credits and the 6,000 points each year more than cover the $99 annual fee. Some of the other benefits, like earning TQP for spending $10,000 and a Companion Pass boost are good, but if you’re flying on Southwest that much, I think the the Priority card might be a better choice.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Carol December 12, 2019 - 3:18 pm

This card has become pointless after getting the Sapphire preferred card. Only use it if there is a promotion offering extra bonus points with spend. Will cancel before it renews again.


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