When Southwest only had two personal co-brand cards, the Premier was the better of the two. Since the introduction of the Rapid Rewards Priority card, the Premier card is now the middle card in the portfolio. Is the card worthwhile getting, or is it the Jan Brady of Southwest co-brand cards, always getting ignored because everyone is looking at the flashier sister?
If you decide that you want to sign up for the Southwest Premier card, or any of the Southwest credit cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our link. We receive Southwest points for each referral, and that helps us keep Your Mileage May Vary HQ going strong.
$99 Annual Fee
Sign Up Bonus
The current sign up bonus for the Southwest Premier card is 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Over the past year, this bonus has been as high as 60,000 points, and for a time, Southwest even was offering a Companion Pass as the signup bonus. 40,000 points are worth $520 when used to book Southwest flights. I’ll let you decide if you want to sign up now or wait to see if the bonus might go up again (I’m betting it will).
Note: To receive this bonus, Chase puts the following restrictions on applications.
The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products
This card is also subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.
When spending on the card, you earn points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program as follows:
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest and with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
I have to be honest, I’m a bit unclear about which purchases for hotels and rental cars will earn two points. Is it through any company that partners with Southwest, or do you have to book through Southwest? The documentation on this benefit is very vague at which expenses will qualify.
Only earning 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases is disappointing because you can earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on Southwest airfare with the Sapphire Reserve and 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, so there’s no benefit on spending on the card for the bonus categories, even on Southwest purchases.
The Southwest Premier card does have some benefits for keeping it past the first year. Unlike most airline co-brand cards that offer a free checked bag or priority seating, those benefits don’t mean anything with Southwest, so they offer something different.
- 6,000-anniversary points each year. Valuing Southwest points at 1.3 cents each, that’s $78 value. But that’s like buying Southwest points, and I hate to purchase points. What else?
- Earn tier qualifying points – You’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually, which equals 15,000 TQP. TQPs can be used to count toward qualification for Rapid Rewards A-List or A-List Preferred status. A-List starts at 35,000 TQP, so this will get you almost halfway, but $100,000 is a ton of money to spend. Figure you can use this to get over the top if you’re close to qualifying, but that’s about it.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Points earned with the card count towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass. Some people find ways to manufacture enough spending to receive a pass each year.
Ways to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points
The points you earn with the signup bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. From there, you can use the points to book flights on Southwest. Here are the values for redemptions:
- Wanna Get Away – 76-78 points per dollar
- Anytime and Business Select – 78 points per dollar
That’s around a value of 1.3 cents per Southwest point. How much you’ll pay for a ticket is directly related to how much that ticket costs. The nice thing is that you’ll never have a blackout date from redeeming points on Southwest. Prices might be high, but you’ll always be able to use points as long as there’s a cash ticket available.
If you think the Southwest Premier card is right for you, here’s our referral link.
Full disclosure: I’ve had this card before. I kept it for a few years, but really all I was doing was buying Southwest points for 1.65 cents each. Considering that all I could with those points was redeem them for 1.3 cents of value, I was losing money every year I kept the card. Eventually, I closed it. It would have made sense to keep the card for some account activity if I needed to keep my Southwest miles from expiring. Now that Southwest miles no longer expire, that’s no longer important.
If you’re an infrequent Southwest flyer and just want to get the signup bonus, and that’s all, the Southwest Priority card will do that. 41,000 points for $99 and $1,000 in spending isn’t a bad deal. However, if you buy at least four Southwest tickets a year and can use the Priority Boarding upgrades and $75 credit, the Priority card might be a better choice.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary