Update: For a limited time, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card is again offering a 50,000 point bonus for new card members. Check out details here.
If you love to fly Southwest and travel often, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card might be the travel card for you. With excellent rewards and a great bonus option available now, it could help you earn free airline travel. Here’s what you need to know about this travel rewards credit card:
With the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, you’ll earn two points per $1 spent at Southwest Airlines and on certain partner hotel and car rental purchases. Rapid Rewards hotel partners include Best Western, Choice Hotels, Mlife, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Rental car partners include Alamo, Budget, and Payless. You can also get double points on purchases from SuperShuttle ExecuCar, from certain retailers, and even from some energy companies. You can get the full list of Rapid Rewards partners here.
On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 spent.
What about the bonus offer? Right now, when you spend $2,000 on purchases within three months of opening your card account, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points. You’ll also earn 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember Anniversary.
To redeem Rapid Rewards points, you can purchase Southwest Airlines tickets for an average redemption rate of 1 cent per point. You can also redeem points for additional items like hotel stays, gift cards, and experiential events. However, you’ll get the most value for your points when you redeem them for a plane ticket from Southwest.
Recapping the rewards: If you earn both bonuses during your first year of membership, that’s 31,000 points, which is worth about $310 in airfare. With some of Southwest’s low prices, that could net you a round-trip domestic ticket. And, that doesn’t include any spending you do with the card during that first year.
One of the biggest benefits to the Rapid Rewards program is that it offers unlimited seats with no blackouts. If the flight has seats available, you can book a ticket (or tickets) with your rewards. Plus, your points don’t expire so long as you have activity on your account within the past two years.
The Rapid Rewards card is good for international travelers, since it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Southwest only has a handful of international destinations, but the More Rewards program adds an additional benefit by allowing you to redeem Southwest points for international flights with other airlines.
You can combine your Rapid Rewards card with your general Rapid Rewards membership to achieve high-tier rewards more quickly. For instance, you need 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points per calendar year to qualify for A-List Status, which gives you priority check-in and boarding, 25% more points per flight, standby priority, and a dedicated A-List Member help line. You can use your credit card to earn up to 15,000 of those Tier Qualifying Points per year, so you can reach A-List Status more quickly.
Plus, you can count any point earned on this credit card towards the 110,000 points you need for your Companion Pass status. The Companion Pass lets one designated person fly with you for free at any time for an entire year. It’s a great way to have your spouse tag along for business trips or to take vacations and pay less in airfare.
The Rapid Rewards credit card comes in different levels, and each level offers additional travel benefits. With the Signature level, you’ll get auto rental damage waiver benefits, baggage delay and lost luggage insurance, roadside dispatch, travel accident insurance, and travel emergency assistance. At the Platinum level, you’ll get all of these benefits except for the emergency assistance services.
Both options of this Visa card offer extended warranty protection on purchases as well as purchase protection for up to $500 per claim or $50,000 per account.
One of the main drawbacks of the Rapid Rewards Visa is that it has a $99 annual fee. Unlike most travel cards, this isn’t waived the first year. This fee is basically offset by the annual 6,000 bonus points, but this is still something to consider when choosing this card.
Also, this isn’t the most versatile travel card for earning points. Others offer better points benefits for everyday purchases and more ways to redeem points at full value.
Who it’s For
If you already enjoy flying Southwest, or could learn to love Southwest over other airlines, this could be the credit card for you. Frequent travelers will find it easy to earn rewards quickly through the Rapid Rewards program, and the benefits of Companion Pass and A-List status are huge.
If you already travel frequently, you won’t find it hard to earn plenty of rewards with this card. Just be sure to fly Southwest, and use this credit card when booking your flight. Get even more bang for your buck and get your hotel room and rental car with this card by booking through Southwest partners.
You’ll find more details and links to the online application here.