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, which is the Southwest personal card with a $99 annual fee (which is neither the highest nor lowest annual fee).
Southwest Airlines Premier Card Basics For September 2020
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.
Many people like flying with Southwest Airlines because of two free checked bags, lack of change and cancelation fees, and great service. Furthermore, having a Southwest Airlines credit card can earn you Companion Pass, which is one of the best deals in domestic travel.
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 40,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus
The Southwest Airlines Premier Card has a welcome bonus of 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 within the first three months.
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 business credit card.
Beyond the restrictions related to which Southwest cards you have, Chase cards are subjected to the 5/24 rule, meaning you typically won’t be approved if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months.
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 portfolio.
Southwest Premier Card Offers Up To 2x Points
The Southwest Airlines Premier Card offers the following return on spending:
- 2x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines purchases
- 1x Rapid Rewards points on all other purchases
That’s not the most exciting rewards structure, given how many credit cards out there nowadays have big bonuses on popular categories.
Southwest Card Coronavirus Spending Bonuses
A lot of consumer behavior has changed in light of coronavirus. As a result, we’ve seen card issuers add some limited-time perks to cards to make sure cardmembers keep them.
While the Southwest Cards don’t have any formal additional coronavirus benefits, note that Chase has some targeted spending bonuses on cards, which can offer bonus points for purchases in some categories. You can check if you’re eligible.
Earn Companion Pass With Southwest Credit Cards
The rewards structure on this card isn’t industry-leading, though the reason you may want to put spending on this card is for another reason.
One of the very best values in travel is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, and you can earn that exclusively through credit card spending (or credit card bonuses) on a Southwest credit card.
With Southwest Companion Pass you can have someone travel with you for the entire year (whether you are paying cash or redeeming points), 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.
Ordinarily, 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, as well as Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses.
However, this year Southwest is giving all Rapid Rewards members 25,000 points towards Companion Pass, meaning you only need 100,000 points to qualify.
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 Rapid Rewards 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 when redeeming for Wanna Get Away fares (Southwest’s best value fares), each dollar of airfare costs 76-78 Rapid Rewards points.
In other words, 6,000 bonus points get you just nearly $80 annually in Southwest airfare. That covers nearly 80% of the annual fee right there.
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.
Temporary Coronavirus Benefits
Earn 5X points/$1 on Southwest purchases, up to $2,000 spent per month for travel booked between August 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020. You must register for the promotion beforehand.
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 $80 worth of airfare, which nearly covers the $99 annual fee, by my math.
However, beyond that, there’s not much benefit to this card, other than if you intend to put spending on the 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 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 nearly $100 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 doesn’t offer this)
- 20% savings on onboard drink and Wi-Fi purchases (the Premier Card doesn’t offer this)
In other words, for the $149 annual fee you’re getting points that will get you about $100 worth of airfare on Southwest, plus a $75 Southwest credit annually. For anyone who flies Southwest with any frequency, they’re basically paying you to have the card, since that’s about $175 worth of value right there.
That doesn’t even factor in the upgraded boardings and savings for onboard purchases. The card really is a no brainer.
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 then you have to spend on a Southwest card, since Ultimate Rewards points don’t count towards the 125,000 point requirement
- 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 2x points on dining and 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 spend per quarter; the card has no annual fee
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) offers 1.5x points on everyday spend; 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 spend; the card has no annual fee
Southwest Premier Card Summary
All Southwest personal cards have increased welcome bonuses at the moment, so now is the time to apply for these cards. The Southwest Premier Card is a good mid-range credit card.
You’re earning 6,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points per year, and I value those at around ~$80, getting you most of the way to covering the annual fee.
- 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 going for 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.