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

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

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Editor's Rating

?

  • On Chase's Secure Website

Editor's Rating

?

  • On Chase's Secure Website

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best of Southwest’s consumer cards, offering excellent value for both the loyal Southwest customer and the occasional traveler.

Citi is an advertising partner

There's much to love about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card if you're an aficionado of the Dallas-based airline. Besides currently including their famous Companion Pass as part of the welcome bonus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a host of other great benefits for Southwest flyers: 7,500 Rapid Rewards points, an annual $75 Southwest travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year and 20% off in-flight purchases. The card also offers good travel protections and $0 foreign transaction fees.

The card does carry a $149 annual fee, but if you routinely fly Southwest, the benefits will likely outweigh the yearly cost. In this post, we'll explore the benefits that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has to offer, and how you can maximize the value of this product.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$149

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Excellent

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Pros

  • Enjoy 7,500 Rapid Rewards points every cardmember anniversary
  • Take advantage of a $75 Southwest annual travel credit (applies to airfare)
  • Enjoy four upgraded boardings per year
  • Receive 20% off in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $149 annual fee
  • Return on spend is less than many other travel credit cards
  • The card locks you into earning Rapid Rewards points rather than a flexible, transferable currency
{"backgroundColor":"gray","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"full pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"half pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n \u003Ch3 class=\"ShortcodeList--title\"\u003EPros\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--icon-check-circle\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Enjoy 7,500 Rapid Rewards points every cardmember anniversary\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Take advantage of a $75 Southwest annual travel credit (applies to airfare)\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Enjoy four upgraded boardings per year\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Receive 20% off in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n $0 foreign transaction fees\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"half pad align-left clearfix\"\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n \u003Ch3 class=\"ShortcodeList--title\"\u003ECons\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--icon-times-circle\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n $149 annual fee\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Return on spend is less than many other travel credit cards\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n The card locks you into earning Rapid Rewards points rather than a flexible, transferable currency\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"none"}

Sign-up bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is currently offering a pretty standard sign-up bonus, along with a 3X point bonus on dining purchases:

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining purchases for the first year.

Who's eligible to earn this bonus? If you're currently a cardholder of another personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card or have received a new cardmember bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card within the past 24 months, you'll be ineligible for this offer. In addition, consider the Chase 5/24 rule that limits new credit card account approvals.

What it's worth: Around $975 in Southwest airfare

Who's eligible to earn this bonus? If you're currently a cardholder of another personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card or have received a new cardmember bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card within the past 24 months, you'll be ineligible for this offer. In addition, consider the Chase 5/24 rule that limits new credit card account approvals.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWhat it's worth:\u003C\/strong\u003E Around $975 in Southwest airfare\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWho's eligible to earn this bonus?\u003C\/strong\u003E If you're currently a cardholder of another personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card or have received a new cardmember bonus on the Southwest Rapid Rewards\u00ae Priority Credit Card within the past 24 months, you'll be ineligible for this offer. In addition, consider the \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"What's the Chase 5\/24 Rule? Everything You Need to Know\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/chase-5-24-rule\"\u003EChase 5\/24 rule\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E that limits new credit card account approvals.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

This isn't the most valuable sign-up bonus currently available, and cardholders trying to time their application for a larger bonus should note that the card has offered much larger bonuses in recent months. However, those who are standing by waiting for travel to resume may appreciate the extra points on dining purchases.

What can you get with 65,000 Rapid Rewards points?

While we peg the value of the 65,000 Rapid Rewards points offered as part of the welcome bonus at around $975, the actual value will depend on how you use them. The points are nearly enough for 26 short one-way hops, such as San Jose to Los Angeles, a flight that is available for just $49 or 2,510 Rapid Rewards points at time of writing. This would provide you with a value of $1,128 after factoring in the $5.60 TSA fee you pay for each award ticket. If you fly all of these trips with a companion for free using the pass, you'll have already received over $1,000 in value from your card.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could redeem around 25,000 points for a nonstop transcontinental round-trip between Oakland and Baltimore — cash tickets for this route currently sell for around $370. There are other ways to use Rapid Rewards points (for gift cards, hotel stays and merchandise) but these options provide far less value than travel on Southwest Airlines.

Earning points

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

How does this compare to other credit cards? These are unfortunately mediocre earning rates, even considering the high value of Rapid Rewards points. The earning potential of the Southwest Priority card is one of its few drawbacks.

For example, a 2% cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer will provide you a higher return than using your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, as we peg Rapid Rewards points at around 1.5 cents each. Even earning 2x Rapid Rewards points on Southwest airlines purchases is mediocre — meanwhile, an alternative card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card will earn you 2x flexible Ultimate Rewards points for travel purchases (including flights), which can then be transferred to Southwest Rapid Rewards or any of the other partner programs.

What are Rapid Rewards points worth?

We value Rapid Rewards points at around 1.5 cents per point — better than the average rewards program point. Southwest points are also very straightforward and easy to redeem: There's no complicated redemption chart to deal with, nor are there blackout dates or restrictions — as long as a flight has available seats, you should be able to book it with points.

Value: Above average

Ease of redeeming: Easier than average, as all seats are available as awards

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch3 id=\"How\"\u003EWhat are Rapid Rewards points worth?\u003C\/h3\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EWe value Rapid Rewards points at around 1.5 cents per point \u2014 better than the average rewards program point. Southwest points are also very straightforward and easy to redeem: There's no complicated redemption chart to deal with, nor are there blackout dates or restrictions \u2014 as long as a flight has available seats, you should be able to book it with points.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EValue:\u003C\/strong\u003E Above average\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EEase of redeeming:\u003C\/strong\u003E Easier than average, as all seats are available as awards\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Redeeming points

With no blackout dates or restrictions on award seats, Southwest makes redeeming Rapid Rewards points extremely easy. Southwest offers flights to numerous destinations throughout the lower 48 states, all the major Hawaiian islands, Puerto Rico and 14 international destinations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. (Head over to Southwest.com to check out the options available for using your Rapid Rewards points.) The number of points required for a ticket is correlated to the cash price of the fare. Southwest award prices start at around 2,600 points and can climb to over 29,000 for a one-way ticket.

The value you get for your Rapid Rewards points depends on the ticket type. Southwest offers three tiers of tickets: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select. Wanna Get Away fares are the cheapest type, but they're also the most restrictive. Both Anytime and Business Select tickets are fully refundable.

However, the issue of ticket refundability is less of a concern when redeeming Rapid Rewards points, as all Southwest award tickets are fully refundable up until 10 minutes prior to flight departure.

This makes the decision easy: You're usually best off redeeming points for less expensive Wanna Get Away fares.

Business Select
Anytime
Wanna Get Away
Fully refundable if you cancel your flight
Same-day change
Same-day standby
Priority boarding A1-A15
Fly By (priority security lane)
Complimentary premium drink

If you're using your Southwest Companion Pass, you'll first need to book your own award ticket. Then visit the My Trips section of your account and find the Add Companion link. This will walk you through adding your companion.

{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIf you're using your Southwest Companion Pass, you'll first need to book your own award ticket. Then visit the My Trips section of your account and find the Add Companion link. This will walk you through adding your companion.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Other Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card benefits

Although the card's earning rates are mediocre, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has a fantastic array of benefits that could make up for this drawback and the card's $149 annual fee. Here we explore each of the card benefits and the value they provide.

Every year after your account anniversary you'll be given 7,500 Rapid Rewards bonus points. We value these points at around $112, which can offset the bulk of the annual fee. These points are redeemable just like any other points earned from any of the many ways to earn Rapid Rewards points.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a $75 annual credit towards Southwest purchases every cardmember year. This credit is applied automatically to your credit card statement after making a Southwest Airlines purchase (excluding upgraded boardings and in-flight purchases). This is not an "incidental" credit, like those offered by some other products — you can use this $75 annual credit for airfare purchases.

The card also offers four upgraded boardings per year. Southwest uses a unique boarding system where everyone is assigned a boarding number based on when they check in for their flight. You then board in order and select any open seat. To get to the front of the line for boarding (positions A1 - A15), Southwest allows customers to purchase an upgraded boarding position at the ticket counter or at the gate on the day of travel. The card reimburses you for four of these purchases.

Tier qualifying points (TQPs) are what you accrue to earn Southwest Airlines elite status. Southwest's two status levels, A-List and A-List Preferred, offer a range of benefits for their most frequent flyers, including priority boarding and check-in and a 25% bonus on your base point earnings. You can augment your path toward status by spending on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Every $10,000 spent on your card will earn you 1,500 TQPs, up to a total of 15,000 TQPs annually (which would otherwise require a cumulative $100,000 in spend).

Along with all the Southwest Airlines-specific benefits, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also offers travel insurance benefits. This includes car rental insurance (secondary in the U.S. and primary abroad), lost luggage coverage of up to $3,000 per passenger and baggage delay insurance of up to $100 per day for the purchase of essential items when your luggage is delayed for at least six hours.

Like many travel credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. You can freely use your card abroad without racking up these additional charges.

How does the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card compare to other cards?

While the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a great array of benefits, it does also come with a fairly high annual fee of $149 per year; this may make it less enticing for infrequent Southwest customers. However, you may find some other Southwest card options more appealing.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

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

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points per year toward A-list status
  • $0 foreign transaction fees

Where this card diverges is its lower $99 annual fee, accompanied by fewer airline benefits. At first glance, you've saved $50 over the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with additional benefits that more than make up for its annual fee, such as the $75 annual travel credit, a larger anniversary bonus and four upgraded boardings per year.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Benefits
  • 7,500 point anniversary bonus = $112.50
  • $75 annual travel credit = $75
  • Four upgraded boardings @ $30 each = $120
  • 6,000 anniversary bonus points = $90
Value of benefits$307.50$90
Net value$307.50 - $149 annual fee = $158.50$90 - $99 annual fee = ($9)
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website

Even with its higher annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the solid winner in terms of value, even if you fly Southwest infrequently.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card is even more scaled down in terms of both benefits and the annual fee. This card offers the following benefits:

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • A lower anniversary bonus: 3,000 points per year

Cost-wise, this card is the most affordable option, with an annual fee of just $69. The 3,000 annual bonus points are worth $45, which means the net value is -$24. The annual fee may be less, but the overall value of the card is less compared to the Southwest other cards. You'll also be hit with foreign transaction fees with this card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • On Chase's Secure Website

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers the flexibility to earn 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. You can Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The 2x earning rate does apply to flights on Southwest, which means that this card earns points just as quickly as the co-branded Southwest credit cards. Plus, the points you earn with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card are flexible: You can transfer points to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, as well as a variety of other travel partners (including Hyatt and United Airlines) on a 1:1 basis.

You can also redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, where your points are worth 25% more. The card enjoys $0 foreign transaction fees and offers increased travel insurance protections beyond what you get with the Southwest branded cards, including primary car rental insurance. With a $95 annual fee, it's also less costly to keep in your wallet compared to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Is The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card worth it?

Given the slew of perks offered by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you could easily argue that it is the best Southwest personal credit card among the three options. Its benefits could easily outweigh the card's relatively high $149 annual fee, even for infrequent Southwest Airlines customers. And if you travel with Southwest frequently and tend to buy in-flight Wi-Fi and earn A-List status, the card is even more compelling.

For those that can't stomach the $149 annual fee, it may still be worth considering the other Southwest card options. If you don't want to be locked into earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is another excellent card worth considering.

Still not interested? Check out the array of best travel credit cards for 2021 to see if any meet your needs.

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).

  • On Chase's Secure Website