Home » Travel » Southwest Credit Card review: Is the Premier worth the $99 annual fee?

Southwest Credit Card review: Is the Premier worth the $99 annual fee?

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Aug 14, 2016, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

The information related to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Who should get this card?

If you’re looking for a simple credit card to help you get the most out of your airline rewards, look no further than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. With redemptions as low as 5,000 points each way, it’s hard to find a better value for short-haul domestic flights.

Add to that the fact that Southwest has now added a few international routes, including the Caribbean, Mexico and a few Central America destinations, this card packs some serious value.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is not for everyone, and does carry a $99 annual fee that is charged on your first billing cycle when signing up. If you’re looking for a simple no-fee card, you should look at our list of no fee cards like the The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

How does it earn points?

Earning points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is fairly straightforward.

You can earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

The card offers an anniversary bonus of 6,000 points after your Cardmember anniversary and if you value your Southwest points at 1.5 cents per point, that would mean your 6,000 bonus points are worth $90. Compare that to the $99 annual fee, and you can see why it’s not hard to justify the annual fee if you plan to book Southwest flights.

southwestplane

Where can you fly with Southwest points?

Southwest Airlines has an extensive flight map with a lots of domestic destinations including including Seattle, Nashville, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New Orleans.

Southwest has also added some awesome international destinations, including Cabo San Lucas, Montego Bay, Cancun and Aruba.

You can check out ALL of Southwest’s destinations here.

Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines does not have any flights to Hawaii at this time. Though you can use your points to book flights on partner airlines to get to Hawaii, the conversion rate for this transaction is poor, and you’re better off using other airline miles to get to Hawaii.

How many Southwest points do you need for flights?

Southwest Airlines charges for award tickets based on the cash price of each flight, with 3 ttiers of tickets you can book; “Business Select”, “Anytime”, and “Wanna Get Away.”

The Wanna Get Away fares are BY FAR the best value for your points. Here are a few example fares found on the date of this post:

Chicago to Cancun: 32,530 points (and $74 in taxes/fees due to international travel)

chicagocancun

San Francisco to Los Cabos: 32,540 points (and $92 in taxes/fees due to international travel)

sfoloscabos

Dallas to Orlando, June 2016 – 18,152 points (and $11.20 in taxes/fees)

dallasorlando

As you can see, your miles can take you a long way. For reference, these trips on other airlines may cost quite a few more miles.

See some examples below:

American Airlines

Chicago to Cancun: 35,000 miles (and $80 in taxes/fees)

aadvantageprice

Delta Airlines

Dallas to Orlando, June 2016 – 35,000 (and $11.20 in taxes/fees)

Comparing the miles needed, especially on the shorter Dallas to Orlando flight, Southwest uses almost half as many points. 

Earning Status

Southwest Airlines has two Tiers of status you can earn; A-List and A-List Preferred. Here’s the benefits breakdown:

A-List

  • Priority Check-in and Fly By Priority Lanes (where available)
  • A dedicated A-List phone line
  • Reserved checkin
  • Standby priority
  • A 25 percent earnings bonus on all eligible revenue Southwest flights

A-List Preferred

  • Priority Check-in and Fly By Priority Lanes (where available)
  • A dedicated A-List phone line
  • Reserved checkin
  • Standby priority
  • A 100 percent earnings bonus on all eligible revenue Southwest flights
  • Free inflight WiFi on equipped planes

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is the only card that can earn qualifying points toward this status. To earn A-List status, you need to earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points per calendar year. To earn A-List Preferred status, you need to earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points per calendar year.

For every $10,000 you spend on the card (up to $100,000), you earn 1,500 Qualifying Tier Points (Up to 15,000 per calendar year). You would still need an additional 20,000 points, which can be earned by flying on Southwest Airlines. The earning structure is as follows:

  • Wanna Get Away Fares: 6x points per dollar spent
  • Anytime Fares: 10x points per dollar spent
  • Business Select Fares: 12x points per dollar spent

So, if you only flew Wanna Get Away fares, to earn the additional 20,000 points for A-List Status, you would need to spend $3,334 on flights within the calendar year. To move yourself up to A-List Preferred, that would be an additional $5,834 spent on flights.

The Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is a great perk — once earned, you can use it for a free companion ticket whether you purchase your ticket with points or cash, only paying taxes/fees on the companion ticket. This is an incredible value, and you can use the pass over and over and over again.

To earn a Companion Pass, you must earn 110,000 Southwest Airline miles within a calendar year. The Companion Pass is then good for the year you earned it, as well as the entire next year.

The quickest way to achieve this would be to sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, then the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card at a time when they both have a 60,000 point bonus, earning you 120,000 bonus miles, which is enough for the Companion Pass.

Other Cards That Earn Southwest Points

There are a couple other cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

 Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardThese points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, but, as mentioned above, the transferred points do NOT count toward a companion pass. This card has an annual fee of $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95. Points also transfer to United MileagePlus® and several other airline and hotel programs, giving you more flexibility than a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. You should carry this card instead of the Rapid Rewards Premier if you want the flexibility to use points on other airlines and save for big international trips.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. The other Southwest branded card is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. It has a lower $69 annual fee, but also a smaller anniversary bonus (3,000 points) and the card does NOT give you the opportunity to earn Tier Qualifying points.

Summary

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a great way to earn valuable airline points to grab some great value tickets within the U.S. and select international destinations. With Southwest’s easy to use rewards system, no fees for checked bags or itinerary changes, and opportunity of getting the Southwest Companion Pass, this card is one of the best airline card options on the market.


Recommended Posts:

45,000 point Wyndham offer returns for 3 free all-inclusive nights

The information related to the Wyndham Rewards Visa and Wyndham Rewards Visa with No Annual Fee cards has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions may have changed, expired, or are no longer available since publication. Update: the 45,000 point offer […]

Read More

June 29, 2017

A 50,000 mile Cathay Pacific Visa bonus (not for beginners)

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card is offering 35,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days of account opening. Also, earn 25,000 bonus miles when you spend an additional $7,500 in the first 12 months. This offer expires June 30, 2018. The bonus alone will get you a roundtrip flight between New […]

Read More

August 10, 2017