Chase offer three co-branded credit cards with Southwest. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the middle offering of these three, bringing a balance of benefits along with a low annual fee. This article looks at the card in more detail, and explains its benefits and who it would best suit.
Card basics and annual fee
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the middle of the range of three Southwest card offerings from Chase. It charges an annual fee of $99, with no waiver or reduction for the first year. The leading difference between the three cards is the annual fee. The basic level Plus card charges $69 and the top Priority card a hefty $149.
The standard APR is between 17.99 percent and 24.99 percent, and there is no discount or introductory zero percent APR offer.
No foreign transaction fees
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card does not charge any transaction fees on purchases made overseas (this does not apply to ATM withdrawals). This is a major improvement over the lowest cost Plus card, which is unfortunately limited in use as a travel card by adding a transaction fee.
Great sign up bonus
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers a sign up bonus for new cardholders of 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for initial spending of just $1,000 over the first three months.
Used for Southwest fares, these points could be worth more than $600 in our experience. This is an excellent bonus for such a low spending target, making it potentially worth taking out the card just for this!
Earn at least one point per dollar on all spending – more with Southwest
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card awards points for all spending, both in the US and overseas, at the following rates:
- Two points per dollar for all spending with Southwest Airlines (including Southwest Vacations packages)
- Two points per dollar with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
- One point per dollar on all other spending
This is a slightly disappointing offering, given the annual fee charged for the card. Several other cards offer higher earnings rates than this. The excellent Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for example, offers two Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for all travel and dining spend.
There is no reason though that you can’t combine the use of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card with another card to maximize earnings.
Extra annual points bonus – just for having the card
Many cards offer a sign on bonus to tempt new applicants, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card goes further than this. Each year that you hold the card you will get a 6,000 Rapid Rewards point bonus.
Get a boost towards the Southwest Companion pass – free travel for a year!
The Southwest companion pass is a popular and valuable offering from the airline. It’s a good reason to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or any of the other Southwest cards.
The Companion Pass allows a designated companion to fly with you for free when you book one cash or reward ticket (the extra ticket just charges taxes and fees). You can even change your designated companion three times per year. The pass is awarded when you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within one year.
All points earned through the card, including the sign on bonus of 40,000 points, count towards the points required for the Southwest Companion Pass. This is a major benefit of the card. If you transfer points from another scheme (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards) into the Rapid Rewards program, these will not count towards the Companion Pass requirement.
For more details about the Companion Pass, and the Rapid Rewards program take a look at our guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards.
Spending Rapid Rewards points
There are plenty of ways to spend points within the Rapid Rewards program – with the best value normally being to use them for Southwest domestic or international flights. For more, see our guide to the best ways to spend Rapid Reward points.
If you opt for the best value (but more restricted availability) ‘Wanna Get Away’ fares you should see a value of around 1.7 cents per point. ‘Anytime’ fares offer more choice, but at a lower value of around 1.1 cents per point. You can also use miles with an extensive set of international partners, but at a lower value again of around 0.8 cents per point.
Earn tier qualifying points
Rapid Rewards points are the award currency of Southwest Airlines, but they do not contribute to elite status with the carrier. This is awarded based on ‘tier qualifying points.’ These are mainly earned from flights, but the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card also offers a boost here. This is another advantage over the Plus card; it does not offer any tier qualifying points.
The card awards 1,500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 in purchases per year (up to a total of 15,000 points). This is, unfortunately, a low award for a high spending target, but it may still help you. The lowest elite level of A-List requires 35,000 tier qualifying points.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good choice for the occasional traveler with Southwest, but who wants the ability to earn Rapid Reward points, a top sign up bonus and credit towards the excellent Southwest companion pass!
The Premier card is a much better choice than the basic Plus card. The removal of transaction fees on overseas purchases makes it much more usable. And the inclusion of some benefits with Southwest is of course very useful. For the more regular Southwest traveler, the extra benefits with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card are worth the extra fee in our opinion.
If you have no interest in the Southwest companion pass or flights, you may want to look at alternate cards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are both excellent travel cards. These will allow conversion of points earned to Rapid Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, along with wider earning and redeeming benefits.