The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa offers a great annual bonus and is one of the best ways to get started earning the valuable Southwest Companion Pass.
6,000 points a year. While there’s a $99 annual fee, every year on your card anniversary you get 6,000 Rapid Rewards points, which can be worth almost the fee in travel value.
Points toward status. All the points you earn with the card count towards Companion Pass qualification, and you can also earn your way toward A List status with your spending.
No foreign transaction fees. You can use the card abroad without the hassle of foreign transaction fees.
Not great for long international flights on other airlines. You can use your points to book international flights to places Southwest doesn’t fly, but they don’t stretch as far as when you use them for Southwest’s own flights. A better option is to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which earns points you can transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards any time, as well as several other airline programs like United MileagePlus at full value.
Annual fee. There’s a $99 annual fee for the card.
If you’re looking for a simple credit card to help you get the most out of your airline rewards, look no further than the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa card. With redemptions as low as 5,000 points each way, it’s hard to find a better value for short-haul domestic flights.
Add to that the fact that Southwest has now added a few international routes, including the Caribbean, Mexico and a few Central America destinations, this card packs some serious value.
The Southwest card is not for everyone, and does carry a hefty $99 annual fee that is charged on your first billing cycle when signing up. If you’re looking for a simple no-fee card, you should look at our list of no fee cards like the Amex Everyday Card.
Earning points with the Southwest Visa card is fairly straightforward.
You can earn 2x points on every $1 spent at Southwest Airlines, as well as Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental Partners. Everything else earns 1 point per dollar spent.
The card offers an anniversary bonus of 6,000 points each year and if you value your Southwest points at 1.5 cents per point, that would mean your 6,000 bonus points are worth $90. Compare that to the $99 annual fee, and you can see why it’s not hard to justify the annual fee if you plan to book Southwest flights.
Southwest Airlines has an extensive flight map with a lots of domestic destinations including including Seattle, Nashville, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Southwest has also added some awesome international destinations, including Cabo San Lucas, Montego Bay, Cancun and Aruba.
You can check out ALL of Southwest’s destinations here.
Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines does not have any flights to Hawaii at this time. Though you can use your points to book flights on partner airlines to get to Hawaii, the conversion rate for this transaction is poor, and you’re better off using other airline miles to get to Hawaii.
Southwest Airlines charges for award tickets based on the cash price of each flight, with 3 ttiers of tickets you can book; “Business Select”, “Anytime”, and “Wanna Get Away.”
The Wanna Get Away fares are BY FAR the best value for your points. Here are a few example fares found on the date of this post:
Chicago to Cancun: 32,530 points (and $74 in taxes/fees due to international travel)
San Francisco to Los Cabos: 32,540 points (and $92 in taxes/fees due to international travel)
Dallas to Orlando, June 2016 – 18,152 points (and $11.20 in taxes/fees)
As you can see, your miles can take you a long way. For reference, these trips on other airlines may cost quite a few more miles.
See some examples below:
Chicago to Cancun: 35,000 miles (and $80 in taxes/fees)
Dallas to Orlando, June 2016 – 35,000 (and $11.20 in taxes/fees)
Comparing the miles needed, especially on the shorter Dallas to Orlando flight, Southwest uses almost half as many points.
Southwest Airlines has two Tiers of status you can earn; A-List and A-List Preferred. Here’s the benefits breakdown:
The Southwest Premier Visa card is the only card that can earn qualifying points toward this status. To earn A-List status, you need to earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points per calendar year. To earn A-List Preferred status, you need to earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points per calendar year.
For every $10,000 you spend on the card (up to $100,000), you earn 1,500 Qualifying Tier Points (Up to 15,000 per calendar year). You would still need an additional 20,000 points, which can be earned by flying on Southwest Airlines. The earning structure is as follows:
So, if you only flew Wanna Get Away fares, to earn the additional 20,000 points for A-List Status, you would need to spend $3,334 on flights within the calendar year. To move yourself up to A-List Preferred, that would be an additional $5,834 spent on flights.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the absolute BEST perks on any airline. Once earned, you can use it for a FREE companion ticket whether you purchase your ticket with points or cash, only paying taxes/fees on the companion ticket. This is an incredible value, and you can use the pass over and over and over again.
To earn a Companion Pass, you must earn 110,000 Southwest Airline miles within a calendar year. The Companion Pass is then good for the year you earned it, as well as the entire next year.
The quickest way to achieve this would be to sign up for the Premier card, then the Business Select card (or Plus card if you do not have a business) at a time when they both have a 50,000 point bonus, earning you 100,000 bonus miles. Then you only need to spend $10,000 total between the two cards, and you will have earned the companion pass.
If you aren’t able to get the larger bonus, or two Southwest cards and need to use other points to get to the 110,000 qualifying amount, there are a few other options.
There are several hotel programs that allow you to transfer points to Southwest AND they still count toward your Companion Pass earning. (Note: Chase Ultimate Rewards points can transfer to Southwest directly, but do NOT count toward companion pass requirements.)
Hyatt Gold Passport. You can transfer 5,000 Gold Passport points to earn 2,400 Southwest points. A better value is transferring 50,000 Gold Passport points, as you earn a bonus 6,000 points, giving you 30,000 Southwest points that qualify toward your companion pass. To get Hyatt points, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
Marriott Rewards. The transfer rate for Marriott Rewards points starts at 10,000 points for 2,000 Southwest points. The rate gets better the more you transfer, with 140,000 Marriott points equaling 50,000 Southwest points. You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio, and the Marriott Chase cards have a decent sign up bonus as well.
There are a few other programs that can transfer, but the ratios aren’t as good. You can see them all here.
There are a couple other cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred. These points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, but, as mentioned above, the transferred points do NOT count toward a companion pass. This card has a $95 annual fee, waived the first year. Points also transfer to United MileagePlus and several other airline and hotel programs, giving you more flexibility than a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. You should carry this card instead of the Rapid Rewards Premier if you want the flexibility to use points on other airlines and save for big international trips.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus. The other Southwest branded card is the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus. It has a lower $69 annual fee, but also a smaller anniversary bonus (3,000 points) and the card does NOT give you the opportunity to earn Tier Qualifying points.
The Southwest Premier Visa card is a great way to earn valuable airline points to grab some great value tickets within the U.S. and select international destinations. With Southwest’s easy to use rewards system, no fees for checked bags or itinerary changes, and opportunity of getting the Southwest Companion Pass, this card is one of the best airline card options on the market.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?
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Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card - $85 annual fee.