Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Review

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With more than 90 flight destinations spanning the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico, Southwest has taken on a large market share of budget-conscious travelers. The company has a strong reputation among its most frequent flyers due in part to its relatively low fares, no baggage fees and a solid rewards program. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers a way to boost frequent flyer rewards over time, making it a sound choice for loyal Southwest travelers.

Southwest RR Premier

Underwritten by Chase, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is one of three rewards cards offered by the airline that provides frequent flyers the opportunity to earn points toward redeemable miles, gift cards, and other cardholder perks. Let’s take a look at the basics.

The Basics

For each dollar spent on Southwest airlines flights or hotel and car rental partners, cardholders earn two rapid rewards points; all other purchases made on the Rapid Rewards Premier credit card earn accountholders a single point. Rapid rewards points can be redeemed for Southwest Airlines flights to any of the airline’s destinations or for international flights offered through more than 50 global carriers partnered with Southwest. Cardholders may also redeem rapid rewards for more than 70 partner merchants for as little as 3,000 points. Points earned on the Rapid Rewards Premier credit card may also be used to redeem hotel rooms or rental cars throughout the United States, or merchandise listed through the Southwest website.

In addition to a robust rewards redemption program, cardholders don’t have to be concerned with rewards expiring after a certain amount of time. As long as the card remains open and in good standing, your rapid rewards remain useable. Credit card holders are also unlimited in the amount of rewards that can be earned over time.

Cardholders don’t have to fret over seat restrictions or blackout dates when rewards are redeemed, and no change fees are assessed if flights have to be changed. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card definitely stands out among similar travel rewards cards in offering these added perks.

Unique Perks

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card has an added rewards bonus equal to 50,000 points for new cardholders who spend a minimum of $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. On top of that boost in rewards, cardholders receive an added 6,000 points at each account anniversary, making it even easier to accumulate rewards.

For frequent Southwest flyers, the Rapid Rewards Premier card is incredibly attractive in that it also offers an additional 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 in purchases, capped at 15,000 tier-qualifying points each calendar year. Travelers who earn at least 35,000 tier-qualifying rewards each year qualify for A-List Status, which provides the following added perks:

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security lane access
  • Priority check-in
  • 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned each flight
  • Priority standby status
  • A-List member dedicated phone line

As if these benefits weren’t enough for the loyal Southwest fan, a companion pass is available for rewards members who earn at least 110,000 points. The Southwest companion pass allows flyers to choose one person to fly with them to any destination, at any time, for a whole year.

The Fine Print

As with any credit card, applicants should be aware of the nitty gritty details. For the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, there is no promotional introductory interest rate, even for the most qualified applicants. The annual percentage rate starts at 16.24% and can go up as high as 23.24% for purchases; the cash advance rate is 25.24%. All interest rates assessed on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card are variable, meaning they will fluctuate with broad market interest rate movements.

For cardholders interested in balance transfers, no promotional interest rate is available at this time. The annual percentage rate applied to balance transfers is the same as the interest rate offered at the time the card is established. However, well-qualified applicants have the opportunity to earn up to 15,000 rewards points on balance transfers successfully completed within the first 90 days of account opening. Cardholders should be aware that a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5 is assessed on the entire amount transferred, whichever is more.

Travel credit cards rarely offer such a variety of perks without a cost, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is no exception to this rule. An annual fee of $99 is charged on an annual basis at the cardholder’s anniversary. Fortunately, no fees are assessed when redeeming rewards.

According to Chase, applicants must have outstanding credit in order to qualify for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. This means that a low debt-to-income ratio must be in place for borrowers and co-borrowers, along with no outstanding delinquent credit accounts. Past bankruptcies, accounts in collections, or high revolving debt balance relative to credit limits may disqualify an applicant, or may increase the initial interest rate applied to purchases or balance transfers put on the card.

The Verdict

Southwest Airlines is not every traveler’s cup of tea, but for loyal fans of the cost-conscious airline, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is an exceptional choice for a travel card. Rapid rewards are earned not only on Southwest fares purchased through the card, but also on everyday purchases like gas or groceries and partner purchases such as hotel stays and rental cards. Cardholders have the opportunity to boost total rewards earnings by taking advantage of special balance transfer offers and a 50,000 utilization rewards bonus applicable within the first three months after account opening. Southwest credits another 6,000 rewards each anniversary of account opening simply for being a customer in good standing.

The rewards are a great feature of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card, but frequent flyers also have the benefit of no blackout dates when redeeming rewards for airfare, and no seat restrictions. Rewards never expire, and there is no cap on earnings. Cardholders do need to be aware of the annual fee of $99, as well as the annual percentage rate charged on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. For travelers with excellent credit and a penchant for the Southwest experience, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is a strong contender in travel credit cards.