Best Domestic Frequent Flyer Program: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

By Christina Majaski. Last updated 18 April 2017. 0 comments

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Frequent domestic travelers love the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. Not only is Southwest Airlines one of the most popular airlines, the card offers perks such as free first and second checked bags, priority boarding, and no foreign transaction fees. The reputation, in addition to the many features included with the card, makes it an attractive card for frequent travelers. (See also: 5 Best Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards)

How This Card Works

You can earn two points for each dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases as well as two points for each dollar spent on participating hotel and car rental partner purchases, and one point for each dollar spent on all other purchases. There is an annual fee $99.

Bonus offer: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

These points can be redeemed for flights, gift cards, car rentals, and hotel stays. Points are worth as much as 1.4 cents per point, with the most value in redeeming for Wanna Get Away flights, which are Southwest's least expensive tickets.

Other Benefits

Bags fly free. Southwest Airlines allows free first and second check bags, which with other airlines, can cost as much as $60 per flight.

No change fees. Southwest Airlines also does not charge change fees, which is an important benefit in the event you need to change your flight. If you have a family emergency, for example, you could end up paying a change fee of as much as $200 with other airlines.

Anniversary bonus. You'll also receive an anniversary bonus of 6,000 points each year on your anniversary date.

Balance transfer bonus. Earn one point for every $1 in balance transfers, up to 15,000 points, within the first 90 days of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% ($5 minimum) will apply for each transfer.

Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs). You can receive a bonus of 1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent with this card. TQPs are used to earn elite statuses with Southwest Airlines that qualify for additional flight benefits. For example, A-List Preferred (the middle status between A-List and Companion Pass), requires 50 qualifying one-way flights or 70,000 TQPs within a calendar year, and includes added perks such as free inflight Wi-Fi, Priority Check-In and Boarding, and a 100% point earning bonus on Southwest flights.

Costs

  • $99 Annual Fee
  • 16.74%-23.74% Variable APR
  • 5% Balance Transfer Fee ($5 minimum)
  • $0 Foreign Transaction Fee

Pros

Sign-up bonus. If you spend $1,000 with your card within the first three months of opening the account, you can receive a bonus of 40,000 points. This is enough for two round trip Wanna Get Away fares, where each point is worth approximately 1.4 cents. (See also: 5 Best Sign-Up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards)

Balance transfer bonus. If you transfer a balance within the first 90 days of opening your account, you can receive a balance transfer bonus of one point for each dollar transferred, up to 15,000 points. There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, but if you are planning on transferring a balance from a higher APR card, you can enough points for at least one more free flight. (See also: 5 Best Credit Cards with No Balance Transfer Fees)

No foreign transaction fee. There are many travel rewards cards which still charge foreign transaction fees as much as 3% on purchases made abroad. This card does not charge this fee, which allows you to fully maximize the rewards potential, especially if you travel outside of the United States frequently. (See also: Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees)

Cons

Slightly higher annual fee. Although you receive a higher sign up bonus and additional perks with the Premier version, the annual fee for the Rewards Plus card is $30 less at $69. You also earn the same amount of points per dollar, which is something to consider when choosing between the two cards. The Discover it® Miles allows you to earn unlimited 1.5x miles on every purchase which is then matched after your first year. (See also: 5 Best Credit Cards with No Annual Fees)

Points expiration. Your points don't expire as long as you have flight or partner activity every 24 months. This is something to consider if you only plan on taking the occasional trip every few years. You will lose the points you have accumulated if you don't have earning or redemption activity at least once, every couple years. Alternatively, there is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which has no expiration for the miles you earn. (See also: 5 Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)

Who This Card Is Best For

Because there is no foreign transaction fee, if you frequently travel outside of the United States, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is an important card to carry with you and more than justifies the difference in the annual fee charged by the Plus version of the card, if you are choosing between the two. This card is also best for those who will use their anniversary bonus, ideally on Wanna Get Away fares, in order to help compensate for the annual fee of $99.

The information related to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card has been collected by Wise Bread and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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