- Attainable initial bonus
- 6,000-point annual anniversary bonus
- Strong earning rates for people who fly often and always with Southwest
- $99 annual fee
- High regular APR
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- 6,000 anniversary points each year.
- Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
- Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
- Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
- 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- Member FDIC
- More Details & Reviews About Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Credit Card Review Summary
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a good credit card that’s worth it for people with good credit or better who regularly fly with Southwest Airlines and want to earn free flights. This Southwest credit card offers more than $1,000 in airfare from first-year rewards alone.
Unlike most travel rewards cards, whose points and miles tend to carry no more than one cent of value apiece, each Southwest Rapid Rewards point equates to a bit more than 1.37 cents, on average, when redeemed for a free flight. In other words, 50,000 points are redeemable for up to $685 in airfare, and the 6,000-point bonus you’ll receive each account anniversary will almost cancel out the previous year’s $99 annual fee.
Aside from the annual fee, the obvious downside to this offer is that you can only redeem points for flights with Southwest Airlines.
Southwest Credit Card Highlights
Good Initial Bonus
Although you should never use an initial rewards bonus as an excuse to overspend, spending an average of $334 per month for the first 3 months will earn you the 50,000 points. That's a pretty nice initial bonus.
Annual Anniversary Present
Each year, on the anniversary of the date you opened your account, you will receive 6,000 bonus points. That equates to about $82.2 in airfare but is all you need to book many one-way Southwest flights.
Rapid Rewards Purchases
You won’t be earning cash back, but the 3 points that you will normally receive for each $1 spent through Southwest Airlines does equate to about 4.11% in Rapid Rewards Cash Back. For example, buying $5,000 in Southwest airfare would earn you 15,000 points. Those 15,000 points would then equal roughly $205.5 when redeemed for a free flight, according to WalletHub’s analysis of Southwest fares and point pricing. You’re therefore being paid quite the premium over most rewards cards in exchange for limiting your travel to certain providers.
All Other Purchases
This card provides 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshare, 2 points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. One point is worth about 1.37 cents, on average. In contrast, the average cash back credit card has a base earning rate of only 1.12%.
Southwest Credit Card Lowlights
$99 Annual Fee
With all this card offers, it’s perhaps easy to overlook what it takes in return. A $99 annual fee isn’t all that egregious relative to other top-shelf rewards cards for excellent credit, but it will effectively cancel out your anniversary points bonus.
Potential For A Very High Regular APR
You will be assigned an interest rate from 20.49% - 27.49% (V), based on your overall creditworthiness. For context, the average good-credit credit card has an APR of 21.2% and the average excellent-credit credit card has an APR of 15.16% according to our latest Credit Card Landscape Report. Southwest doesn’t compare favorably to either benchmark. The fact that the high end of its APR range is above the rate charged by the average store card (26.97%) similarly isn’t a good look.
So if you don’t want to see your capacity to earn free travel diminished by erosive finance charges, you’ll make sure to pay your Southwest Card’s bill in full every month.
Other Things To Consider About Southwest Credit Card
No Foreign Transaction Fee
In the past, this would have amounted to a largely empty benefit because Southwest only flew domestic routes and someone in a position to rack up a lot of foreign transaction fees likely would have chosen to open a credit card affiliated with an air carrier operating in their destination of choice.
But now that Southwest has added flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, “no foreign transaction fee” is an essential feature. If the Southwest Card continued to charge foreign transaction fees, consumers who travel to the airline’s newly-added destinations would have a more complicated decision in terms of becoming brand-loyal Southwest Airlines passengers. Sure, the airline is known for low fares and the card offers solid rewards on tickets booked, but is seeing every purchase you make in your destination get inflated by 3% worth restricting your ability to comparison shop for flight deals? That would have been a tough sell considering the other lucrative no foreign transaction fee travel rewards credit cards that are available.
2 Free Checked Bags Per Flight
This is a perk of flying Southwest regardless of whether you have its eponymous Premier Card. So while this feature will certainly save you money, it’s not an outright reason to submit an application.
No Seat Restrictions, Change Fees or Blackout Dates
Southwest Airlines doesn’t have assigned seats, so seating restrictions for reward flights are kind of a moot point. The same is true of change fees because Southwest Airlines simply doesn’t charge them. And while you don’t need to be a cardholder to avoid blackout dates either – a free membership in Rapid Rewards will provide that – it is nice to have the reassurance that red tape won’t derail redemption.
Southwest Credit Card vs. The Competition
Air travel is a competitive business. The same can also be said of the travel rewards credit cards that help you lift off more often at less of a cost. Any analysis of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card therefore is not complete without consideration of other popular offers.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
JetBlue Plus Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
|Bonus Offer||50,000 points||50,000 points||60,000 points||75,000 miles|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 3 points / $1||1 - 2 points / $1||1 - 6 points / $1||2 - 5 miles / $1|
|Purchase Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Transfer Intro APR||N/A||N/A||0% for 12 months|
Transfer Fee: 5% (min $5)
|Regular APR||20.49% - 27.49% (V)||20.49% - 27.49% (V)||20.49% - 29.49% (V)||20.24% - 28.24% (V)|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|