Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card review: Earn the Companion Pass from a single welcome bonus, and your points won't expire

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Review: Is the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier the best credit card for you?

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Until March 10, 2021, all of the Southwest personal cards are offering an excellent welcome bonus: Earn a Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 

This is a great offer for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card ($69 annual fee), and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card ($149 annual fee), especially if you plan to fly Southwest often in the next year. With a Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can fly with you on paid and award flights for just the cost of taxes and fees, so this limited-time bonus could save you lots of money. 

If you’re considering the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll want to compare it to the other Southwest cards, because you can only have one personal version at a time. It’s a good choice if you’ll use the card while traveling overseas, because it doesn’t add foreign transaction fees. Plus, the 6,000 Southwest points you’ll receive each account anniversary are worth about $90 in Southwest airfare, which nearly cancels out the annual fee.

However, if you prefer flexibility, a card that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points might be a better choice. Southwest is one of 13 Chase airline and hotel transfer partners, and cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® have broader bonus categories and more benefits. 

Bottom line: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offer is worth considering if you fly Southwest and can take advantage of the Companion Pass. Other Southwest cards deserve a look, too — the best one for you depends on how often you fly Southwest and if you can make the most of the benefits. 

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Comparison: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier vs other Southwest personal cards

Like other Chase cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank in the past 24 months, you’re not eligible. You also won’t be approved if you currently have any Southwest personal card or have received the bonus from one in the past 24 months.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

 

Annual fee

$99

$69

$149

Rewards rate

2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

1 point per dollar on everything else

2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

1 point per dollar on everything else

2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

1 point per dollar on everything else

Welcome bonus

Earn a Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Earn a Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Earn a Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Anniversary points

6,000

3,000

7,500

Other benefits

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

N/A

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

$75 annual Southwest travel credit

4 upgraded boardings per year when available

20% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi

 

Foreign transaction fee

No

Yes

No

 

 

Learn more

Learn more

Learn more

Comparison: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier vs other airline credit cards

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

United℠ Explorer Card

Annual fee

$99

$99, waived for first 12 months

$95, waived first year

Rewards rate

2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

1 point per dollar on everything else

2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases

2x miles at eligible restaurants and gas stations 

1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases

2x miles on eligible United purchases

2x miles on restaurant/delivery service purchases, and hotel stays booked directly with the hotel

1 mile per dollar on everything else

Welcome bonus

Earn a Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Anniversary points

6,000

N/A

N/A

Other benefits

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

Free first checked bag on domestic AA itineraries 

Preferred boarding

$125 American Airlines flight discount certificate each card anniversary year in which you spend $20,000 or more

25% back on American Airlines inflight purchases

 

Free first checked bag on United flights

Priority boarding

25% back on inflight purchases

2 one-time United Club airport lounge passes

 

Foreign transaction fee

No

No

No

 

Learn more

Learn more

Learn more

How to use rewards from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

Southwest points never expire, so when you’re ready to travel again you can redeem your points for flights within the US (including Hawaii), and to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Even with the ongoing pandemic, Southwest has added new routes, so you’ll have plenty of options when you decide to plan a trip.

It’s easy to use Southwest points — there’s no award chart to figure out or blackout dates to work around. The number of points required for a Southwest award flight depends on the price of a paid ticket, and on average, you can expect to get a value of about 1.5 cents per point toward the cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares.

Booking an award flight is a straightforward process — just search on the Southwest website the same way you would for a paid ticket. You’ll have the ability to toggle between the cash price and the points cost, so it’s easy to compare.

You’ll almost always get the best value by using your points for Southwest flights, but as a Southwest credit card holder you’ll have other options for redeeming your points. The More Rewards program allows you to use points for merchandise, gift cards, car rentals, hotels, cruises, experiences, and international flights on other airlines. The value per point varies depending on the redemption.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card benefits and features

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with handy benefits that can give you a boost toward elite status and give you peace of mind when you travel or make big purchases.

Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is widely considered to be one of the best deals in travel. It allows you to bring a designated companion along on paid and award flights for just the cost of taxes and fees (typically about $6 on domestic flights) — and you can use your Companion Pass an unlimited number of times while it’s valid.

The limited-time bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with a Companion Pass that’s valid until February 28, 2022. If you’re able to use it frequently, this bonus could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in airfare (or in points).

Normally, to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll need to accumulate 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year, and points earned from the bonus and spending on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card count toward that total. It makes the most sense to qualify for the Companion Pass early in the year, because it’s valid for the rest of the year in which you earn it and the entire year after.

However, as a result of the pandemic, Rapid Rewards members with accounts that were open as of December 31, 2020, will receive 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points for 2021 — effectively reducing the requirement to just 100,000 points for the calendar year. If you decide to earn a Companion Pass the old-fashioned way (so it’s valid until the end of next year), the points from the welcome bonus will help you qualify.

Anniversary points bonus

Each year when you renew your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll receive 6,000 points, which are worth around $90 in Southwest airfare. That’s almost enough to offset the entire $99 annual fee.

Earn A-List elite status faster

If you’re aiming for Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred elite status, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card can give you a boost. You’ll earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 in eligible net purchases with card, up to 15,000 points per year. Normally the only other way to earn TQPs is through paid flights on Southwest, and to earn A-List status, you’ll require 35,000 TQPs in a calendar year.

A-List status is worth pursuing if you fly Southwest frequently, because it comes with perks like priority boarding, a 25% bonus on points earned from flying, priority check-in and security at select airports, and same-day standby. The next level up, A-List Preferred, requires double the amount of TQPs but offers a 100% points bonus and additional benefits like free inflight Wi-Fi.

Car rental insurance

When you use your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to pay the full cost of your car rental and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver, you’ll get coverage for damage due to collision or theft. This coverage is secondary to your own personal policy in the US, but primary overseas (or if you don’t have your own insurance).

Purchase protection and extended warranty

New purchases you make with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card are covered for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. You can also save money because the card extends the time period of a US manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.

Lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay insurance

When you use your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to pay for your fare, you (and your immediate family) are covered if your checked or carry-on luggage is lost or damaged by the carrier, up to $3,000 per passenger.

And if your bags are delayed by six hours or more, you’re eligible for up to $300 in reimbursement ($100 a day for up to three days) for essential items like toiletries and clothing.

Other travel protections

If you’re approved for the Visa Signature version of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll get access to travel and emergency assistance services, which can help arrange things like medical and legal referrals when you’re away from home. Just be aware you’re responsible for the cost of any services arranged.

All cardholders also get travel accident insurance, which covers accidental death or dismemberment when you use your card to pay for your air, bus, train, or cruise transportation. Visa Signature cardholders get up to $500,000 in coverage, and Visa Platinum members get up to $250,000.

You’ll also get access to a roadside dispatch hotline, which can arrange services like towing and jumpstarts when you’re on the road. Again, you’ll be responsible for the actual cost of the service, which gets billed to your card. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardCiti Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit CardChase Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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