Review: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Card

I review dozens of credit card offers each week to find the best deals. Check out more on our credit card page.

The key to getting the most value from airline credit cards? Using your miles for the longest, most expensive flight award possible. As long as you stay flexible and avoid peak travel times, you can redeem some very valuable flight awards.

Yet finding award flights during holidays has been nearly impossible, and those of us redeeming miles for a short trip are literally selling ourselves short. But Southwest Airlines turned that common wisdom on its head when they changed their award system last year.

With the new Rapid Rewards program, each point is worth a fixed value toward any seat for sale. So you can now book several short flights instead of one long one, and booking trips for the holidays is no harder than any other time. Southwest Airlines offers its Rapid Rewards Visa card from Chase in Plus and Premier versions to help customers earn more points toward award seats on any of their flights.

Advantages…

  • Earn Rapid Rewards points. Two Rapid Rewards points are earned per dollar spent at Southwest Airlines, with 1 point per dollar being earned for most other purchases.
  • Get a sign-up bonus. The current offer is for 25,000 bonus points after making your first purchase with this card. That’s enough for more than $400 in award flights.
  • Get a companion pass. All points earned with this card count toward an annual companion pass, one of the best deals in the air. The companion pass allows you to designate someone – family member, friend, anyone – who will receive a free ticket when traveling with you. This effectively doubles the value of any purchased flight or reward ticket. For example, my wife received the companion pass last year after earning the necessary 110,000 points. Now I travel with her for free on every flight, even reward tickets.
  • Annual renewal bonus. Each year when you renew their card, you receive a bonus. The Rapid Rewards Plus card has an annual fee of $69 and an annual bonus of 3,000 points, worth $50. The Premier version has an annual fee of $99 with a bonus of 6,000 points, worth $100. Clearly, the Premier version is a better deal, providing you can turn those points into travel.
  • Earn tier-qualifying points. The Premier version of the card offers 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 points annually. These points allow customers to reach the A-List status faster and receive priority check-in, security screening, and boarding.

Disadvantages…

  • High interest rate. Those who carry a balance should look to pay off their debt, not earn rewards for spending. That’s especially true here. This card has a standard APR of 15.24 percent – significantly higher than the most competitive non-reward cards.
  • No perks. Many other airline reward cards include perks such as priority boarding and bag fee waivers. On the other hand, Southwest Airlines doesn’t have any bag fees for the first two bags.
  • Annual fee. The current offer doesn’t waive the first year’s annual fee as previous offers have. Only after being a cardholder for a year will you receive bonus miles for paying the annual fee.
  • Not great for last-minute awards. One of the nice things about most frequent flier programs is that last-minute fares are a bargain. With the new system at Southwest, award flights without advance notice are expensive, just as with paid flights.

Bottom line…

Get it if: You fly a lot of shorter, domestic flights, and you love Southwest’s policies of no bag fees and no change fees.

Forget it if: You like to use miles for last-minute flights or trips in first class.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon
9 Hidden Ways to Get More Out of Amazon

You don’t have to be a Prime member to take advantage of these little-known perks of shopping on Amazon.

How to Get Rid of 6 Hard-to-Sell Things
How to Get Rid of 6 Hard-to-Sell Things

Find out where to sell, donate or recycle items — and feel good about it.

7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales
7 Things You Should Buy at Estate Sales

Here’s what an experienced estate sale shopper considers a great find.

What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?
What Is Umbrella Insurance, and Do I Need It?

Umbrella insurance picks up where car and homeowners insurance leaves off. Do you need it? Here’s how to know.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.