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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review: Is It Worth Applying For?

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review: Is It Worth Applying For?

Not only one of the best Southwest credit cards, but a great airline card all-around.
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
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Editor's Rating

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4.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is one of several cobranded cards bearing the Southwest name. This card offers premium travel rewards, perks and money-saving benefits, with no foreign transaction fees and the opportunity to earn an annual companion pass. It could be a solid option for frequent flyers who prefer Southwest Airlines to other carriers and don't mind paying a $149 annual membership fee to rack up travel points.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review: Top-shelf travel rewards for Southwest frequent flyers

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines flights and travel bookings at Southwest hotel and car rental partners. All other purchases, including travel booked through other carriers, earn 1 point per dollar spent. That's typical of other travel credit cards, but where this card shines is its travel extras and incentives.

Earn a Southwest companion pass faster

Arguably, one of the most attractive features of the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program is the Southwest companion pass. This pass allows one person to fly with you free, excluding airline taxes and fees, every time you purchase or redeem points for a Southwest flight. To qualify for this benefit each year, you either have to fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. You'll earn the pass for the rest of the current year plus the following full calendar year.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card can give you a jump on earning those qualifying points for the first year. You can Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.

Points you earn on purchases count toward the total, and cardmembers can earn an additional 7,500 bonus points after their card anniversary. This bonus is applied to the account automatically on each anniversary. Members can also earn up to 10,000 points for referring friends to the card, up to a maximum of 50,000 additional points per year.

Save money on Southwest travel annually

Cardmembers enjoy a $75 Southwest annual fee credit each year. This perk is automatically applied as a statement credit to your account each anniversary year. To qualify for the annual fee credit, you'll need to use your card to pay for Southwest Airlines purchases. Upgraded boardings and in-flight purchases don't count toward your yearly spend to qualify.

There's no minimum spending requirement you need to meet to take advantage of the $75 annual fee credit. Since the $75 is applied to your statement as a credit, you can use it to cover travel or other purchases, or apply it toward the annual fee.

Upgrade your boarding for free

If you book upgraded boardings for a Southwest Airlines flight using your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you can receive reimbursement for the cost of up to four upgrades per year. To qualify, you must purchase the upgraded boarding on the day you plan to travel at the ticket counter or departure gate.

Upgraded boarding reimbursements are applied to your account as a statement credit. You can either purchase all four upgraded boardings allotted for the year at the same time or purchase them on separate flights.

Get 20% back on in-flight purchases

If you plan to buy in-flight drinks or Wi-Fi, you can get 20% of those purchases back when you pay for them using your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Like the other perks highlighted so far, the 20% back is received as a statement credit.

There's no limit on the amount you can receive back for the year total on in-flight purchases. You'll just need to use your card to pay for the purchases, and your account must be open and in good standing.

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-list status

Earning A-list status in the Rapid Rewards program opens the door to benefits such as priority boarding, priority check-in and security lane access, 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned on flights, free same-day standby, and a dedicated customer service phone line. You need to earn at least 35,000 tier-qualifying points or book 25 qualifying one-way flights per calendar year to earn A-list status.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you can earn 15,000 tier-qualifying points per year. That gives you a jump on achieving A-list status, leaving you with just 20,000 points to make up by booking through the Rapid Rewards program.

ValuePenguin's verdict: Good value for frequent Southwest travelers

This card is promising for anyone who flies Southwest Airlines regularly and wants to earn a sizable number of points toward the companion pass or to qualify for A-list status in the Rapid Rewards program. The $149 annual fee is a bit high, but between the sign-up bonus, getting 20% back on in-flight purchases and the $75 annual statement credit, it may not be difficult to earn that amount back.

Booking award travel with this card is also less complicated than it could be with other travel cards. Cardmembers can book unlimited reward seats with no blackout dates or seat restrictions. This card also comes with valuable travel protections, including travel accident insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay reimbursement.

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

There are two reasons travelers may consider a different card. The first is the $149 annual fee. Compared to Southwest's other cobranded card options, the Rapid Rewards Priority Card is the most expensive.

The other potential drawback has to do with transferring points. Points earned with this card can only be used to book reward travel with Southwest. If you're interested in using points to book with a different airline from time to time, another card may be more suitable. We've highlighted three alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card that are worth a look.

Midrange rewards with a reasonable annual fee: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Our thoughts

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with many of the same features and benefits as the Priority Card, including:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening.
  • Earn up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points per year toward A-list status
  • No foreign transaction fees

Where this card diverges is the annual fee and its extra perks. The annual fee drops from $149 for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to $99 for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, making it a more affordable option. However, cardmembers don't get benefits such as the $75 annual travel credit, 20% back on in-flight purchases or the four upgraded boarding reimbursements each year.

Basic travel option for Southwest loyalists: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Our thoughts

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is more scaled down in terms of both benefits and the annual fee. This card still earns 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, as well as 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Members also have the opportunity to Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, earn an additional 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening. The anniversary bonus for this card is slightly lower, at 3,000 points per year.

Cost-wise, this card is the most affordable, with an annual fee of $69. But unlike the other two, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card does charge a foreign transaction fee of 3%, so it may not be the best choice for overseas travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website
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Our thoughts

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers the flexibility to earn 2 points per dollar spent on any airline (including Southwest), along with 2 points per dollar spent on dining purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. With Chase you can Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more. Plus, you can transfer points to travel partners on a 1:1 basis and you'll pay no foreign transaction fees. With a $95 annual fee, it's also less costly to keep in your wallet compared to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Compare card rewards and benefits

Choosing the right credit card for travel matters if you want to maximize rewards and benefits. Use our card comparison tool to estimate the amount of travel rewards you could earn using different spending scenarios.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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