Executive Summary -
This is the "elite" version of two SouthWest affinity cards. It comes with better features than the regular version and will appeal to frequent flyers of SouthWest Airlines. We'll kick off this review by highlighting all its' key benefits.
SouthWest has two consumer version of their Rapid Rewards affinity card and this version is the "premier" one and has more perks than the regular version. They difference is that this card allows you to get to the "A-list" faster through spending on the card. It's now time to look at the key features.
Earning SouthWest Points - Like most frequent flyer affinity cards, this card allows you to earn double points when you fly with SouthWest and AirTran directly (note: SouthWest has merged with Airtran). But more importantly, you can also earn double points when you use your card to book Rapid Rewards Hotel partners and also their car rental partners. That means that the hotels and car rentals you book will have to be from SouthWest site. So the card encourages you to use both SouthWest, AirTran and their hotel and car rental partners. But in return, you get the chance to earn more points. SouthWest is the only card that we know that has this feature. For other regular purchases, the standard one mile per dollar applies (as in most other cards).
Aside from earning regular miles, card members also get 6,000 anniversary bonus miles every year. This is an improvement over the "regular" version, which only gives you three thousand anniversary bonus miles. Key question is how much is this 6,000 miles worth. Well, it gets you a $100 wanna get away fare (the cheapest fare structure for SouthWest).
Wanna Get On To A-List Faster? - Like most frequent flyer programs, the SouthWest Rapid Rewards has various tiers as well. Rather than calling them Silver, Gold and Platinum (or something similar), the tiers are companion pass, A-List Preferred and A-List. A List is the lowest tier among them all.
To qualify for the A-List, you need to fly either 25 one-way flights a year or get 35,000 qualifying points. The benefits that you get include priority boarding, priority check-in and lane security lines, 25% earning bonus miles, dedicated phone lines and standy priority.
The great thing about this card is that you can earn extra qualifying points simply from spending on the card. This is how it works. For every $10,000 that you spend, you get 1,500 qualifying points. You can earn up to 15,000 qualifying points each year. That means that if you spend $100,000 a year on the card, you get an extra 15,000 qualifying points, which will help you achieve elite status faster.
The ability to earn qualifying points from credit card spending is only available on this version of the card and not on the regular version.
No Foreign Transaction Fees - Another highlight of this card is that they do not charge any foreign transaction fees. While most people flying on SouthWest will be flying domestic flights, you can also use your Rapid Reward points to book international flights. And should you choose this as your main card and you do travel overseas, then this feature might come in handy.
As with most airline affinity cards, this one comes with some sign up bonuses, which we will explore in our next section.
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