If you love traveling throughout the U.S. and Caribbean, 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 has long been known for low fares and great service. By adding destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, and (in late 2018 or early 2019) Hawaii, it’s become an even better option for those wanting to travel slightly closer to home.
Rewards card enthusiasts will also love the airline’s co-branded credit cards. 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: You’ll earn 40,000 bonus points when you open a new account and spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. In many cases, these points are almost enough for 2 round-trip tickets to the Caribbean, although it depends on your dates and airports.
- 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 at Southwest.
- 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. Southwest allows you to check your first two bags for free.
- No Expiration: Your points don’t expire for as long as you keep your account open.
Obviously, there is a lot to like about this card. And, compared to other airline cards, we think the points offer a ton of value.
Where It Shines
Want to know more? Of course you do!
As we mentioned, right now, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card offers a 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. In some cases, that’s good for 2 round-trip flights to the Caribbean, if you’re flexible.
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, your points stretch even further during these sales. 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 14 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. Southwest will also begin their long anticipated service to Hawaii late in 2018 or early 2019.
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. 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. Check out our “Beginner’s Guide to Credit Card Rewards” for more tips.
A premium rewards card can make a great match too!
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card you’ll earn a 50,000 point signup bonus, but you’ll have to spend $4,000 in 3 months to do it. Your Chase rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the Rapid Rewards loyalty program. If you decide not to transfer them to Southwest, you can transfer them to other loyalty programs through travel partners like Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and United Airlines. They are also worth $500 in gift cards at places like Kohl’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more; or, you can redeem them for $625 in travel when booked through the Chase portal. There is a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived for the first year.
This is almost always the first rewards card we recommend. The points are flexible, valuable, and our favorite type to earn.
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: Whenever we travel domestically or to the Caribbean with our whole family, Southwest is usually a great option. 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.
- No Double Dip for Companion Pass – Unforuntanately, Southwest recently updated it signup bonus policy concerning their two consumer credit cards. You may no longer earn a signup bonus on a second Southwest consumer card if you’ve earned a new member card bonus within the previous 24 months. While earning points on the card still counts toward the pass, it makes earning the Companion Pass significantly harder.
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. However, with co-branded cards, you’ll only be able to use the points you earn with that particular brand of airline. That’s not always a problem, but it could be.
For a more flexible option, consider the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. This card offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. This translates into a statement credit of $500 toward travel expenses. You can also earn an enormous 10 miles per dollar spent when you book stays at participating hotels through their portal. There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived for the first year.
These are some of the most flexible points and miles you’ll find. You can use the to book airline tickets, excursions, and other travel experiences when you pay with your card.
If you’re looking for cheap flights throughout the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, Southwest is a great place to start. This card can make it even cheaper.
With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card, points are easy to earn and the benefits are good. Since points are tied to airfare prices, you can use the points you earn to save even more during sales. And, you’ll definitely want to pair it with another card to earn even more points.
If you do all that, you’ll save big bucks when flying with Southwest!