If you love traveling throughout the U.S. and Caribbean like I do, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card might be for you. Offering easy to earn points that translate into free and reduced airfare, this is one of my favorite airline cards around.

Southwest is already known for low fares and great service. Now that it’s added destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, it’s become an even better option for those wanting to travel slightly closer to home. In addition to making your flights even cheaper, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card provides a ton of benefits to help you travel in style. Let’s check it out!

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card Highlights

Think the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card may be for you? Here are a few things you need to know:

  • Signup Bonus: Now is the perfect time to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card. For a limited time, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points when you open a new account and spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Those points are usually good for 2 round-trip tickets to the Caribbean!
  • Anniversary Bonus: Every year, you’ll earn a 6,000 point bonus on your cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn Points for Spending: Get 2X points for every dollar spent with either Southwest or select hotel/car rental partners. Get 1X points on everything else.
  • No Blackout Dates: Unlike some airline rewards programs, you’ll never have to worry about blackout dates.
  • Fare-based Pricing: You can even use your points to book flights that are on sale! With Southwest, cheaper fares means fewer points.
  • Free Checked Bags: Adding checked bags to your flights can really add up. With Southwest, you get to check your first two bags for free.
  • No Expiration: Your points don’t expire for as long as you keep your account open.
  • Counts Toward Companion Pass: The points you earn with this card count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. With this benefit, you can fly a companion with you for free, even if you paid with points. You can read our Companion Pass review here.

Where It Shines

There’s a lot to like about the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card. As we mentioned, right now, you can earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. That’s good for 2 round-trip flights to the Caribbean, if you’re flexible. Plus, those points count toward the 110,000 points you’ll need to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. This offer only comes around a couple of times a year, so take advantage of it while you can. And if you like to fly Southwest like I do, you should jump on this offer right away.

As much as I love a good signup bonus, I also love that redeeming my Rapid Rewards® Points is based entirely on the actual airfare price. Southwest flights are often the cheapest available, but they also run some ridiculous deals throughout the year. I’m talking about domestic round-trip tickets for less than $100! And since the point redemption is fare-based, each time Southwest runs a sale, my points stretch even further. Plus, there are no blackout dates or rewards caps. That means I can use my points on any flight with available seating…and I can still check 2 bags for free!

Oh yeah, have I mentioned that Southwest now flies to 11 destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean? It’s true! You can now use your points to book free flights for your entire family to places like Jamaica, Costa Rica, Belize, and Aruba. That’s pretty sweet, especially if you’re a beach bum like me.

Tips for Getting the Most From Your Card

If you want to get the most of your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card, be sure to use it whenever you book travel through Southwest or their participating hotel and rental car partners. You’ll earn 2X points on every dollar spent, which really adds up if you’re a frequent traveler, you can also check out our Complete Cheap Vacations Guide for more tips on how to save while traveling. Also, use your points to book flights when they’re on sale. Because redeeming your points is based on the actual fare price, you can really stretch those points further.

The best way to use the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card is to pair it with another card. Doing so can help you earn even more free travel and could help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass. If you are a business owner, you should definitely consider the business version of the card as well. You’ll double your signup bonus and be within a hair of the points needed for the Companion Pass.

Better yet, pair the Southwest Card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With this card, you’ll also earn a 50,000 point signup bonus, but you’ll have to spend $4,000 in 3 months. Those points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® loyalty program AND they count toward the Companion Pass. If you decide not to transfer them to Southwest, you can still redeem them for $500 in gift cards at places like Kohl’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more. Or, redeem them for $625 in other travel products when booked through the Chase portal. You can also transfer them to loyalty programs through travel partners like Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and United Airlines. There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year. Read our complete review.

What You May Not Like

Although the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card is one of our favorite airline cards, there are some things you need to watch out for.

  • Annual Fee: There’s a $99 annual fee which is not waived. Of course, the signup bonus more than makes up for it the first year. But, if you don’t travel much or don’t use the points, the fee may not be worth it to you.
  • No Flights to Europe or Asia: Although Southwest now travels all around the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, it does not offer any flights to popular international destinations in Europe or Asia. If you’re wanting to book travel there, you should look at other cards.
  • Points Don’t Transfer: Personally, we love flying Southwest whenever we travel domestically or to the Caribbean. However, if you don’t like Southwest or don’t live near a Southwest hub, this may not be the card for you. Consider other travel rewards cards instead.

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Most of the major airlines now have their own co-branded credit cards that allow you to earn points and save on flights. If you’re looking to head to Europe or Asia, you might consider the Citi®/AAdvantage® Platinum Select Mastercard® or the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card instead.

The Discover it Miles card is a great way to save money on your travel costs. Read our complete review to see if it's a good fit for you!Looking for a more flexible rewards program that you can use with any airline? Try the Discover it® Miles Card. There is no annual fee, and you redeem miles as a statement credit. That means you can use your miles with any airline or hotel and never have to worry about blackout dates. The card earns an unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar spent across all categories. Plus, Discover doubles your miles after your first year! So, if you’re looking for a flexible program with no fees, the Discover it® Miles Card is a great alternative. Check out our complete review, or learn how to get yours here.

Wrapping Up

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card is a great way to earn cheap flights with Southwest Airlines. The points are easy to earn, the benefits are great, and they can be used toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass (which happens to be my favorite perk of all). Southwest has always been my favorite airline for domestic flights. But now that they’re serving destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card makes getting to some of my favorite places even cheaper.