The Southwest Rapid Rewards card is a favorite among burn and churn enthusiasts. The card, serviced by Chase, provides a solid sign-on bonus of 40,000 points, enough for a round-trip fare to most destinations, and then some. To qualify for the bonus points, you must spend $1,000 within the first three billing periods.
There are, currently, three SW cards to choose from: Premier, Plus, and Business. For the purposes of this review, I’ll be focusing on the Premier card. There are a few differences between the three. Notably, a more generous sign-on bonus for Business, which requires a bit more spend, and the non-waived foreign transaction fees for the Plus card. As is standard with most travel cards, the SW Premier offers no foreign transaction fees.
The strongest case for this card is simply the ease in which points can be redeemed. I don’t know of a company better than SW when it comes to booking rewards points. The booking system is incredibly intuitive and the cancellation policy is generous. Reward points can be used for direct flight bookings with SW, and a variety of travel bookings, like partner hotels and car rentals.
Points are earned at a rate of 2/$1 spent directly with SW and on Rapid Rewards partner hotels and rental car purchases. All other purchases earn at a 1/1 rate. I find these spending categories to be somewhat inefficient with standard household spending. Unless you frequently shop through the SW portal, it’s hard to maximize the long-term value of the card.
There is a $99 annual fee, which is applied to the first billing statement and impacts the immediate value of the card. Quite a few travel cards waive the fee for the first year. The annual fee is offset somewhat on the card member anniversary date, in which you are rewarded with 6,000 Rapid Rewards points.
Overall, I find it’s a fine card, but one I’d dump after getting the initial bonus. In fact, that’s exactly how I used it. It will certainly help you book a trip at a heavily discounted rate, even with the initial fee, but I don’t care for the limited spending categories or use of point options. Even with the anniversary bonus, I found that there are other cards with higher long-term value.
The information herein is should not be considered prescriptive financial advice. Travel Fanboy receives no commission or compensation from any credit card issuer or affiliated companies. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone.
For information on how the churn and burn process can impact your credit score: Churn and Burn Credit Score Guide