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LUV at First Flight: The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

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Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Southwest Airlines has legions of fans, which has allowed it to grow substantially in the U.S. and even some international destinations. This may be because Southwest is known for doing things differently than other airlines, such as charging no change fees and offering two checked bags for free to all customers. The Texas company also offers the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card from Chase, which works differently than most airline credit cards.

What Is the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card From Chase?

Southwest Airlines Credit Card

Cardholders earn two points for every dollar spent on Southwest purchases, as well as purchases made with hotel and car rental partners, plus 6,000 bonus points on their anniversary. All other purchases are worth one point. As a signup bonus, cardholders can earn 40,000 bonus points after they spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

As part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program, cardmembers receive no blackout dates, the ability to earn points on every purchase with no caps, and the assurance their points will never expire as long as the account remains open. Points can also be redeemed for hotel stays, car rentals, exclusive events, and merchandise. There is a $99 annual fee for this card but no foreign transaction fees. This card carries a variable APR of 17.49% to 24.49% on purchases and balance transfers, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply.

Pros & Cons of the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card

This card offers an easy way to earn valuable Rapid Rewards points. But it’s not the card itself that makes these points valuable. It’s the customer-friendly policies of Southwest. While other airlines offer a single free checked bag to cardmembers, Southwest offers two free bags to everyone. Furthermore, its policy of no change fees makes it easy to book a flight using dollars or points and know you won’t have to pay an outrageous fee if your plans change (you will pay the difference in fare, if applicable).

Other important advantages include the ability to earn Tier Qualifying Points, which allow cardholders to reach elite tiers faster. Finally, the card has no foreign transaction fees, a nice perk when you take advantage of Southwest’s rapidly growing list of international destinations.

Still, there is one major weakness to Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. With other rewards programs, cardholder can redeem their points and miles for business and first-class reservations and realize several cents in value per point or mile. Not only does Southwest’s revenue-based redemptions preclude this chance to realize greater value from your points, the airline doesn’t offer first class on any of its planes. Finally, the $99 annual fee may be too expensive for those who don’t earn enough points to justify it. It also may be a poor fit for those who carry a balance, which could offset rewards.

Who Should Get This Credit Card?

This is a great card for fans of Southwest Airlines who are looking for a way to pad their Rapid Rewards balance. It also makes sense for those who are close to reaching the next level of elite status in Southwest’s program and need some Tier Qualifying Points to get there. Finally, this is a great card for international travel, as it has no foreign transaction fees.

Before You Apply

As with any credit card you’re considering, it’s a good idea to check where your credit stands first. You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com, where you’ll also get tips for how to improve.

If you understand the card’s terms, feel it fits your personal needs, and think you’ll use it often to offset the high annual fee, this card may be a great match for you. If you’re unable to meet the card’s requirements, however, it may be best to wait to apply for the card until your scores have improved.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

This article has been updated. It was originally published on December 10, 2015.


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