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Southwest Airlines recently introduced an addition to its credit card portfolio in the form of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, and it has instantly become the airline's best offering. The card offers ongoing rewards that are in line with those offered by leading airline cards. However, it's the card's outstanding sign-up bonus—worth more than $1,000—where the card really shines. Before applying, we recommend you read into what makes the card stand out and how it compares against other leading cards.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Benefits and Features
- How Does This Card Compare Against Other Southwest Cards?
- Alternative Cards to Consider
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review: The Best Southwest Card Available
The best thing about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is that it pays for itself, provided you use its benefits or meet the minimum spending requirements for its bonus. For instance, we currently value the card's bonus at more than $1,000, which means the card can essentially cover its own annual fee for a few years. That value doesn't even take into account the card's annual travel credit, which adds an additional $75 in value each year.
Another major draw of this credit card is that its current welcome bonus (ending 2/11/19) will give you the Companion Pass through 2019 after spending $4,000 in three months. This is one of the most valuable airline perks in existence, easily worth thousands of dollars each year. Normally, you'd have to earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within a single year to earn the pass for the remainder of that calendar year, plus an additional 12 months. The current welcome offer makes it much easier to earn the pass.
The Companion Pass is a buy one, get one free ticket that you can use on any Southwest flight. No other airline offers a companion pass worth this much. All the points you earn through the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card count toward the 110,000-point requirement. Read more about the program here, and learn why this alone might justify applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
Beyond the bonuses, the card also offers great ongoing rewards, but it's people who fly with Southwest frequently who will get the most out of the card. Cardholders are able to skip the frenzy at the gate by taking advantage of upgraded boardings, and they'll enjoy discounts on select purchases made in-flight. Even better, the card allows you to earn tier-qualifying points. Provided you earn enough tier-qualifying points, you'll earn status with Southwest and unlock even more perks, such as priority check-in and bonus points on each flight.
The one major downside of the card is the limited international flight destinations. Therefore, if you often fly outside of the U.S., you may want to consider a different card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. Both of these cards will fare better for international travel. Just keep in mind that they won't give you access to any Southwest-specific perks or the ability to earn status.
Bottom Line: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has all the makings of a great credit card: a valuable sign-up bonus, great ongoing rewards and solid benefits. Overall, this is one of the better credit card offers available for getting free flights, especially for anyone who frequently flies with Southwest.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Benefits and Features
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Cardholders will pay a $149 annual fee and will earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest Airlines purchases. They'll also earn 2 points per dollar spent at Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. Cardholders earn 1 point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. These points can be redeemed for free flights, gift cards, hotels, car rentals and merchandise. However, we estimate that points are most valuable when you use them for Southwest Airlines flights.
Cardholders earn 30,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. We currently value Southwest points at 1.7 cents each, meaning if you meet the spending requirements, the 30,000 points can be worth $510. You'll also get 7,500 anniversary points for every year that you have the card.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also features a $75 annual travel credit, which essentially works as a $75 discount on Southwest flights. For instance, airfare from Dallas (Love Field) to New York City (LaGuardia) currently costs $323. Assuming you use the annual travel credit, the plane ticket would only cost you $248, plus taxes and fees. Cardholders can also get upgraded on four boardings per year, which allow you to get an A1 to A15 boarding position. Once you're on the plane, you'll receive a 20% discount on in-flight purchases, such as beverages and movies, provided you use the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card vs Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the third consumer credit card offered by Southwest, and it's also one of the airline's best offerings. Although the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with the highest annual fee of the bunch, it also provides solid benefits and rewards. For instance, out of the three Southwest consumer credit cards, this is the only one to offer an annual travel credit. Of the three cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also provides the most anniversary points.
So what's the best Southwest card? If you're considering applying for a Southwest credit card, we recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. It has the highest annual fee, but it offers enough rewards to offset the cost. For an in-depth comparison of other Southwest credit cards, you can read our analysis here.
To see why the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best Southwest Airlines credit card, consider the math below.
|Card||Anniversary points||Value||Annual fee||Net value|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||6,000 bonus points||$102||$99||+$3|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||3,000 bonus points||$51||$69||-$18|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||7,500 bonus points + $75 travel credit||$203||$149||+$54|
How Does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Stack Up to Other Cards?
For anyone who wants to use the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to get a Southwest Companion Pass, your search is over, as this card is hands-down the best option. However, if the Southwest Companion Pass isn't at the top of your wishlist and you would like to evaluate other potential options, we take a look at how the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card compares to other leading card options, below.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the better card for anyone who flies with multiple airlines frequently or prefers shopping for the cheapest fare, rather than staying loyal to a single carrier. That's because, unlike the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns a 2.5% rewards rate (2 points per dollar multiplied by the 1.25 bonus when redeeming for travel on the Chase portal) on all airline purchases, whether you buy a ticket from Southwest, American Airlines or JetBlue. Furthermore, the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can be transferred on a 1:1 basis to several airline and hotel loyalty programs.
It's worth noting that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lacks a travel credit and it also doesn't offer any airline-specific perks. Therefore, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card will remain the better pick for travelers who are loyal to Southwest Airlines. In summary, you should apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you fly with multiple airlines, and apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card if most of your air travel is through Southwest. Regardless of which you choose, both cards offer great benefits.
- $0 annual fee for the first year; $95 after that.
- Earn 2x points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases.
- Earn 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Much like the comparison made above, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is the better choice for people who fly with more than one airline since its miles can be redeemed for flights across multiple airlines. It also has the benefit of earning 2 miles for every dollar you spend on the card, unlike the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, where you'll only earn 2 points for certain purchases. Although the card doesn't have an annual travel credit, it does offer to pay $100 toward an application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, which can help you get through security lines faster.
Ultimately, both of these credit cards can make excellent picks for the correct user. The better card for you will depend on your spending habits. We recommend applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card if you fly with Southwest frequently, and applying for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card if you don't place a high value on airline-specific perks, like priority boarding. In the end, both cards offer excellent value.
- Earn 2 miles on every dollar spent.
- The annual fee is $0 the first year and $95 after that.
- Get a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
- Get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening.