Chase and Southwest have a great portfolio of credit cards at three different price points. In this post, I wanted to take a closer look at the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, the Southwest personal card with a $99 annual fee (which is neither the highest nor lowest annual fee).
Southwest Airlines Premier Card Basics For January 2022
The Southwest Airlines Premier Card has a $99 annual fee, making it the mid-range card in the Chase & Southwest portfolio.
What’s interesting is that generally speaking all Southwest personal cards have the same welcome bonuses, which you don’t typically see with other products. Typically higher annual fee cards have bigger bonuses, but that’s not the case with Southwest.
With that in mind, which Southwest Airlines credit card is the best option? Let’s take a look at the details of this card, and then I’ll share my take.
Southwest Premier Card Bonus: 40K Rapid Rewards Points
The Southwest Premier Card is offering a welcome bonus where you can earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
The card isn’t available to anyone who currently has a Southwest Rapid Rewards personal card, or anyone who has received a welcome bonus on a Southwest Rapid Rewards personal card in the past 24 months. However, you are eligible if you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards business credit card.
Southwest Premier Card $99 Annual Fee
The Southwest Premier Card has a $99 annual fee, and you can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost. Southwest’s personal credit cards have annual fees of $69, $99, and $149, so this is the “middle child” of the Southwest & Chase personal card portfolio.
Southwest Premier Card Rewards Structure
As far as the Southwest Premier Card’s rewards structure goes, the card offers the following:
- 3x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines purchases
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
- 1x Rapid Rewards points on all other eligible purchases
It’s good that the card has some bonus categories, though there are ultimately more rewarding cards out there for everyday spending.
Earn A-List Status With Southwest Premier Card
In addition to being able to earn Companion Pass through spending on the card, the Southwest Premier Card also lets you earn unlimited Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs). Specifically, you can earn 1,500 TQPs towards A-List status for every $10,000 spent on the card.
A-List is Southwest Airlines’ version of status, and offers perks like priority boarding, a 25% points bonus, same-day standby, priority check-in and security lane access, and a dedicated phone number.
A-List status ordinarily requires earning 35,000 TQPs in a calendar year, so spending on a Southwest Premier Card could help you earn that. This is the only personal Southwest card that offers that feature. Whether or not that’s worth it depends on how much you’d otherwise fly with Southwest.
Earn Companion Pass With Southwest Credit Cards
One of the very best values in travel is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, and you can be on your way to earning it with this bonus.
With Southwest Companion Pass you can have someone travel with you for the entire year (whether on a cash ticket or award ticket), and just pay taxes and fees for them. This is such an incredible deal, and basically doubles the value you can get from flying Southwest.
Companion Pass requires earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points per calendar year, though only certain types of points accrual qualify, including Southwest credit card spending and welcome bonuses.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Southwest Premier Card has no foreign transaction fees. This is one benefit over the $69 annual fee Southwest Plus Card, as that card has 3% foreign transaction fees.
Southwest Airlines Premier Card Benefits
The Southwest Airlines Premier Card offers some benefits that could make the card worth keeping long term. How do the perks compare to Southwest’s lower and higher annual fee cards?
Southwest Premier Card 6,000 Bonus Points
On your cardmember anniversary every year, you’ll receive 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points. Southwest Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based frequent flyer program, and you can generally expect that you’ll need around 83 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar of airfare you book.
In other words, 6,000 bonus points get you just around $72 in Southwest airfare annually. That covers over 70% of the annual fee right there.
Southwest Premier Card EarlyBird Check-Ins
The Southwest Premier Card offers two EarlyBird check-ins per anniversary year. This can get you a better boarding position, and would ordinarily cost $15-25 each, so that’s potentially a $30-50 value. That’s quite a nice perk, and between this and the anniversary bonus points, you should be able to recoup your entire annual fee right there.
Southwest Premier Card 25% Savings On Inflight Drinks & Wi-Fi
The Southwest Premier Card offers 25% savings on inflight purchases of Wi-Fi and drinks. Simply pay with your card, and you’ll automatically receive a statement credit for that amount.
One of the great features of Chase cards is access to Chase Offers, which provides savings on purchases with all kinds of retailers. The program wasn’t launched that long ago but has already saved me a significant amount of money.
Is The Southwest Premier Card Worth It?
The Southwest Airlines Premier Card is Southwest’s mid-range card, and the annual fee is in line with many other co-branded airline credit cards, at just under $100.
On an ongoing basis, the 6,000 point anniversary bonus can potentially get you around $72 worth of airfare, and then you’re getting two EarlyBird check-ins per year, potentially worth $30-50. If you value those perks, that should more than cover the annual fee right there.
However, there might be a better strategy if you’re looking to acquire a Southwest Airlines credit card.
Tip: Apply For The Southwest Priority Card Instead
If you’re going to pick up a personal Rapid Rewards credit card, I can’t recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card (review) enough. The card has a $149 annual fee, which at first is a turn-off to some people. Why would you want to pay an extra $50 over the benefits of the Southwest Premier Card?
Well, the benefits more than justify it, in my opinion. The Southwest Priority Card offers:
- A 7,500 point anniversary bonus annually, getting you around $90 worth of airfare (that’s 1,500 more points than what’s offered by the Premier Card)
- A $75 Southwest Airlines travel credit annually, which counts towards virtually any Southwest Airlines purchase (the Premier Card doesn’t offer this)
- Four upgraded boardings per year, when available; you’ll be reimbursed for the purchase of boarding positions A1-15 on the day of departure (the Premier Card offers two EarlyBird check-ins per year, but not four upgraded boardings per year)
In other words, for the $149 annual fee you’re getting points that will get you about $90 worth of airfare on Southwest, plus a $75 Southwest credit annually. For anyone who flies Southwest with any frequency, you’re basically being paid to have this card, since that’s around $165 worth of value right there. That doesn’t even factor in the four upgraded boardings per year.
To me, the Priority Card is an obvious choice over both the Plus and Premier products.
Tip: Earn Ultimate Rewards Points Instead
Chase Ultimate Rewards is a transfer partner with Southwest Rapid Rewards, and points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. This means that you could earn points at a faster rate through Ultimate Rewards than through Rapid Rewards, and your points will be more flexible (since you can also transfer them to other airlines and hotel programs).
So, should you earn Rapid Rewards points directly with a Southwest Airlines credit card, or with a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card?
- If you’re trying to earn Companion Pass or A-List status then you have to spend on a Southwest card, since Ultimate Rewards points don’t count towards the requirements for earning the Companion Pass
- If you don’t care about Companion Pass and just want to earn as many Rapid Rewards points as possible, earn points with Ultimate Rewards, and then transfer them over
For context, some of the best cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points include the following:
- The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review) offers 3x points on dining, online groceries, and select streaming services, and 2x points on travel; the card has a $95 annual fee
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve® (review) offers 3x points on dining and travel, plus a $300 annual travel credit; the card has a $550 annual fee
- The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases annually on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines; the card has a $95 annual fee
On top of that, the following four no annual fee cards earn points that can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio in conjunction with one of the above cards:
- The Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories, on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter, plus 3x points at drugstores; the card has no annual fee
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) offers 3x points at drugstores and 1.5x points on everyday spending; the card has no annual fee
- The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review) offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases each anniversary year on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, plus 2x points on the first $25,000 spend in combined purchases each anniversary year on gas stations and restaurants; the card has no annual fee
- The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review) offers 1.5x points on everyday spending; the card has no annual fee
The Southwest Premier Card is a great mid-range credit card. It has a nice welcome bonus, plus ongoing perks that justify the annual fee, between the 6,000 Rapid Rewards points annually, and the EarlyBird check-ins.
- I’d argue that the $149 annual fee Southwest Priority Card is worth it for just about everyone, given the huge incremental benefits (an extra 1,500 points, plus a $75 annual Southwest credit, and more)
- If you’re not particularly interested in the Companion Pass, you’re much better off earning points with Chase Ultimate Rewards and then transferring them to Southwest Rapid Rewards, given that it gives you higher points earning rates and more flexibility
For everything you need to know about the best credit cards for earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points, see this post.