Mastercard Black Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers a 40,000-point sign up bonus, 2x points on Southwest spending, and a 6,000-point anniversary bonus—all with just a $99 annual fee. This beats the Mastercard Black card, which charges a $495 annual fee.

The Winner

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is a better value for your annual fee

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers tremendous value for the $99 annual fee—and it's one of the best credit cards for loyal Southwest Airlines customers.

2x points on Southwest flights. You'll earn two points for every dollar you spend on Southwest Airline flights, as well as hotels and rental car partners.

A special anniversary bonus. To celebrate your cardmember anniversary, you'll get 6,000 anniversary points each year—which is equivalent to about $60—helping offset the annual fee.

Take this card on your next trip overseas. The Rapid Rewards Premier card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, saving you up to 3% on spending outside of the United States.

Travel Activity Booking Behaviour (2017)

Why You Should Consider These Credit Cards

Both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card and the Mastercard Black card offerrewards that benefit frequent travelers.

You're the perfect customer for the Southwest card if they're your preferred airline

To find out whether the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card is the right card for you, answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a credit score greater than 700?
  • Are you a Southwest Airlines enthusiast who lives near a Southwest hub?
  • Do you travel frequently?

If you answered yes to the questions above, then this is a great card to add to your wallet to help you earn miles that can be redeemed for free trips and hotel stays.

If you like a luxe card with travel benefits, the Mastercard Black should probably be in your wallet

Curious whether the Mastercard Black card is a good fit? Answer the following questions to find out:

  • Do you have a credit score greater than 720?
  • Do you travel frequently and usually pay for airport lounges?
  • Are you planning on redeeming points for free travel?

If you answered yes to the questions above, then the Mastercard Black card may be a better fit for you.

The takeaway

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers two points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and partner hotels and rental cars—making it a better bet for Southwest loyalists than the Mastercard Black card.

The Winner's Strengths

The Southwest card is stronger because it has a much lower annual fee

With the Southwest card, you'll pay $396 less in annual fees than you would with the Mastercard Black card.

You'd have to charge a lot on your Black card to make up the difference.

People love it because the generous bonus helps them earn the coveted companion pass

When you spend $1,000 within three months of opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card, you'll earn 40,000 points.

This gets you more than one-third of the way toward earning a Companion Pass (you need to earn 110,000 points or fly 100 flights within a calendar year to qualify).

The Companion Pass is a lucrative travel perk since it allows a person of your choosing to fly with you on all flights for two years for free—though you will be responsible for paying taxes and fees.

Plus, most points you earn qualify towards securing elite status.

The biggest customer complaint about the Southwest card is that the points aren't great for long international flights

Southwest is primarily a domestic airline, though it does fly to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

But customers say the Rapid Rewards points aren't great for international travel, anyway.

You'll get a better value redeeming the points for short-haul domestic flights.

The takeaway

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card has a hefty 40,000-points sign-up bonus that can help you earn a coveted Companion Pass—but you're better off redeeming points for domestic travel rather than international flights.

Domestic Airline Passenger Bookings Are Slowly Declining

Counter-Argument

Then again, Mastercard Black may suit you better if you're not near a Southwest hub

If you don't typically fly Southwest, or most of your travel takes you outside of the United States, then the Mastercard Black card may be a better fit.

Travel in style. The Mastercard Black card entitles you to complimentary access to airport lounges in the Lounge Club, 24/7 access to Luxury Card Concierge, and room upgrades.

You'll also receive complimentary food and beverages and spa credits when you book travel through Mastercard's Luxury Card Travel portal.

A sweet $100 airline fee credit. Mastercard Black cardholders receive a credit for up to $100 each year on airline baggage and other fees.

Earn 2% back when you redeem for travel. When you redeem your Mastercard points for travel, you'll get 2% back on your purchases.

0% interest for the first 15 months. When you transfer a credit card balance onto your Mastercard Black card within 45 days of opening the card, you'll score 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles.

This is three months longer than the promotional rate offered by many competitors, even the loved Bank of America Travel Rewards card.

The Mastercard Black card is popular because of its free Global Entry

Consumers who travel around the globe often say that Global Entry, which lets you go through U.S. customs more quickly, is worth every penny.

The Mastercard Black card covers the cost of your Global Entry application fee (a $100 value).

The biggest customer complaint about Mastercard Black card is its $495 annual fee

While the Mastercard Black Card comes with luxe travel benefits, it does have a premium price tag—an annual fee of $495.

Many customers say that if you don't travel often enough, you are better off with a travel rewards card like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, which only charges $99 a year.

The takeaway

The Mastercard Black card offers luxe travel perks—free airport lounge access, $100 travel credit and 2% points value when redeemed for travel—but it comes with a hefty $495 fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is still a better bet because it offers travel perks for only $99 a year.

How They Compare: A Breakdown

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card Mastercard Black card
How high of a credit score do you need?

>700

>720

Average APR?

20.49%

15.99%

Annual fee?

$99

$495

How big of a sign-up bonus do you get?

40,000 points when you spend $1,000

None

How much do you need to spend to get the bonus?

3 months

n/a

How many points do you get for every dollar?

2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest or partner hotels and car rental companies

1 point on everything else

1 point

Any restrictions?

None

None

If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars?

2% on Southwest purchases

1% on everything else

Each point is worth 2% when redeemed for travel and 1.5% when redeemed for cash

How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)?

$5,000 on Southwest

($10,000 on everything else)

$25,000 (when redeemed for travel)

Rewards and Bonuses

The Southwest card offers a solid sign-up bonus

Of the two travel rewards cards, only the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers a sign-up bonus.

You'll earn 40,000 points (worth around $400) when you spend $1,000 within three months.

Unfortunately, the Mastercard Black card does not offer any bonus when you open the card.

Benefits

The Southwest card offers Visa Signature or Visa Platinum benefits

Depending on your credit score, you will either get the Visa Platinum or the higher-level Visa Signature travel and purchase protection benefits.

Worry-free shopping. The card offers extended warranty and protects new purchases against damage or theft for 120 days,

Protect yourself while traveling. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers trip lost baggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, emergency roadside assistance, and coverage for theft and collision damage on your rental car.

Mastercard offers you extensive travel benefits

In addition to a 24/7 concierge, you'll get extended warranty and price protection, as well as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, and auto rental collision waiver.

Free Luxury Magazine subscription. Cardmembers receive Luxury Magazine, an exclusive, members-only quarterly publication covering a broad range of categories—including travel, fashion, real estate, vehicles, and technology.

Airline Passenger Bookings: Credit Card vs Cash

Costs and Fees

Both cards charge an annual fee

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card charges $99 a year, while the Mastercard Black card will cost you $495 a year.

The Southwest card has no foreign transaction fee

You will save up to 3% on purchases you make outside of the United States as a result.

Other fees are typical. If you make a late payment, you'll be subject to a $37 fee.

Balance transfers and cash advances will result in a 5% fee.

The Mastercard Black card has a hefty cash advance fee

Other typical fees apply. You'll pay a 3% fee on balance transfers, 5% on cash advances, a $37 late payment fee, and other standard credit card fees.

But, at least there's no foreign transaction fee.

Customer Service

Consumers weren't raving about the customer service from both Chase and Mastercard.

They complained about long wait times when calling customer service at both companies, and incorrect or unhelpful customer support.

Key Digital Services

Both companies offer digital tools to help you earn more points and make online purchases quickly

In addition to managing your account, viewing credit card transaction history, and paying your bills online or via the app, both companies offer digital tools to make shopping online easier and more lucrative.

Southwest's Chrome extension helps you rack up the points

Earn extra Southwest Rapid Rewards points by shopping through Southwest's online shopping portal using your Southwest credit card.

Now, you can add an extension to your Google Chrome web browser that will allow you to activate rewards on whichever retailer's website you are shopping on.

You can earn between 1-20 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent.

Unless they are described as bonus points, these points count toward the 110,000 Southwest points you need to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

Mastercard offers the Masterpass Digital Wallet

Masterpass is a digital wallet that you can use online and in stores.

It stores your credit card and shipping information, saving you from filling out long checkout forms and scrambling for your wallet.

The Digital Wallet Trend (2017)

FAQs

  • What does each card provider offer new customers as incentives?

    The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers a 40,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend $1,000 within three.

    The Mastercard Black card will give you 0% interest for 15 billing cycles when you transfer your credit card balance within 45 days.

  • What does each card provider offer as ongoing incentives for loyal customers?

    You'll earn two points for every dollar spent with Southwest when you charge it on your Rapid Rewards Premier card.

    The Mastercard Black card's points can be redeemed for travel at a 2% value.

  • What are the interest rates for each card provider?

    The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card's interest rate ranges from 16.990-23.99%.

    The Mastercard Black Card will charge you interest of 15.99% flat.

  • Does either card have an annual fee?

    Yes. You'll pay $99 a year for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card and $495 annually for the Mastercard Black card.

  • What about a foreign transaction fee?

    Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee.

  • What credit score range should you be in before applying for each card?

    You'll want to have excellent credit for the Mastercard Black card (>720) and very good credit for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card (>700).

  • How do I apply for each card?

    To apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card, visit the Chase website.

    If you'd like to sign up for the Mastercard Black card, you can apply on the Mastercard website.

  • How do I cancel each card?

    If you'd like to cancel either card, just call the customer service number on the back of your credit card.

    That way, you'll reach a customer service agent who specializes in your credit card.

    With both cards, you'll have to pay off your balance before the account can be closed.

    Be sure to redeem any points available before closing the account, or you risk forfeiting them.

Earn free travel when you book with your Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card

For loyal Southwest Airlines travelers who live close to a Southwest hub and tend to fly domestic, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is a good credit card to own.

Remember, you'll get a 40,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend just $1,000 in three months.

You'll also earn two points for every dollar you spend on Southwest.

From free first and second luggage and no change fees for changing your travel plans, Southwest doesn't nickel and dime you.

And every year after your anniversary of owning the card, you'll get an extra 6,000 anniversary points!

  • The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers two points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and partner hotels and rental cars—making it a better bet for Southwest loyalists than the Mastercard Black card.
  • The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card has a hefty 40,000-points sign-up bonus that can help you earn a coveted Companion Pass—but you're better off redeeming points for domestic travel rather than international flights.
  • The Mastercard Black card offers luxe travel perks—free airport lounge access, $100 travel credit and 2% points value when redeemed for travel—but it comes with a hefty $495 fee. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card is still a better bet because it offers travel perks for only $99 a year.
  • The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points, while the Mastercard Black card does not offer any bonus when you open the card.
  • Both cards offer purchase protection and travel benefits.
  • Both cards charge an annual fee but no foreign transaction fees.
  • Neither Chase nor Mastercard offers customer service that is beloved by consumers.
  • Southwest and Mastercard offer digital tools to make it easier and more rewarding when you shop.

If you're a frequent traveler, it will also be worth your while to check out our picks for the best credit cards for air miles and points.

Do you use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card?

How has the company worked out for you?

Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.


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