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Southwest Priority credit card review: Valuable perks for Southwest flyers

Nov. 06, 2022
12 min read
Southwest Boeing 737 on Runway
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.


Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the most rewarding of Southwest Airlines' personal credit cards, offering a $75 annual Southwest credit and 7,500 anniversary bonus points.

With a healthy sign-up bonus and the most benefits of any of the airline's offerings, this is the card to get if you're a Southwest loyalist. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

Southwest has made a name for itself with its customer-friendly travel policies and reputation of going above and beyond for passengers. Unlike other airlines, it doesn’t offer lounges, any type of premium cabin or even seating with extra legroom. But it does offer a full suite of cobranded credit cards to help frequent flyers fulfill their Southwest travel goals.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the most premium personal credit card in the Southwest lineup. It offers hundreds of dollars in value with Southwest each year, plus a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

But are its benefits valuable enough to warrant the $149 annual fee? Let’s find out.

Who is this card for?

OWEN CL/UNSPLASH

The Southwest Priority Card is the highest-earning (and most expensive) consumer Southwest card. It’s best suited for those who are loyal to Southwest and fly with the airline regularly.

All Southwest cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means if you’ve opened more than five credit cards in the past 24 months (from all banks, not just Chase), you may not be approved. Also, you can’t open a new personal Southwest card if you currently have one open or if you earned a sign-up bonus in the past 24 months on any personal Southwest card.

Welcome offer: A fast-track to the Companion pass

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is currently offering 50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. TPG values Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, meaning 50,000 points are worth $750.

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What’s more, though, is that those 50,000 bonus points count toward earning the airline’s ultra-valuable Companion Pass, which is potentially worth thousands of dollars depending on how often you and a partner fly.

The Southwest Companion Pass is basically a two-for-one benefit that allows the holder to bring a designated friend or family member along on any Southwest flight they take. With the Companion Pass, you just pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket, sort of like you would on an award ticket. Even better, the Companion Pass can be applied to both paid and award tickets. So if you regularly fly with another person, this one perk can be very, very lucrative.

In order to attain the Southwest Companion Pass, you need to earn 135,000 qualifying points (up from 125,000 points; effective Jan. 1, 2023) or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. By earning the sign-up bonus with this card, you’re already more than halfway there.

While Southwest is raising the qualifying benchmark for the Companion Pass by 10,000 points from 2023, cobranded credit card holders will get a 10,000-point boost either at the beginning of the year (for existing cardholders) or within 30 days of opening an account (for new members).

So you'd earn 50,000 points with this sign-up bonus, plus 10,000 additional points, meaning you'd need 75,000 more to hit that qualifying threshold. Once you do your pass will be good for the rest of that calendar year and the following one.

Related: Southwest Airlines adds more Hawaii routes

Main benefits and perks

Even casual Southwest flyers should have no trouble using the following card perks to offset the card’s $149 annual fee:

  • 7,500-point anniversary bonus: Each year on your card-opening anniversary, you’ll receive 7,500 Rapid Rewards points, worth about $112, based on TPG’s valuations.
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit: During each cardmember year, you’ll receive a $75 travel credit that can be used on most Southwest purchases, including tickets (but excluding upgraded boardings and inflight purchases), dropping the card’s actual cost to $74.
  • Four upgraded boardings per year: Use your card to pay for A1-A15 boarding spots and you’ll be reimbursed the cost up to four times per year. Ordinarily, upgraded boarding costs between $30 and $50 per round-trip upgrade, depending on the itinerary, so this perk can be worth up to $200 per year. As of August 2022, you can now purchase upgraded boardings online, through the app or at the airport.
  • 25% inflight savings: Receive 25% back in the form of a statement credit after you use your card to purchase inflight drinks, Wi-Fi, messaging and movies.
  • Tier qualifying points boost: Earn 1,500 TQPs that count toward A-List and A-List Preferred status for each $10,000 you spend in a calendar year.

In addition to the Southwest-specific benefits, the card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, extended warranty coverage and purchase protection. The card has no foreign transaction fees, so you can make purchases overseas without accumulating extra charges.

And while this isn’t a card benefit, don’t forget that all Southwest flyers don’t pay change or cancellation fees, get two free checked bags and have access to the easy-to-use Rapid Rewards program. These policies alone are enough to convince many to invest their rewards earnings with Southwest.

Earning and redeeming

Here’s what you’ll earn with the Southwest Priority Card:

  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases.
  • 2 points per dollar spent with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners.
  • 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
MAX PROSPERI

Redeeming points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is very straightforward. Southwest award prices are directly tied to the cash value of the ticket. In other words, points maintain a fairly constant value and you should never have a hard time redeeming them. Plus, if your plans change, you can redeposit your award without penalty.

Some points and miles enthusiasts stay as far away from these types of rewards currencies as possible, but they can often provide significantly greater value than traditional airline miles. For instance, you can fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago (MDW) for just 5,743 points one-way, depending on the time of year. Meanwhile, American Airlines and United often charge 10,000 miles or even more (assuming you can find saver-award availability).

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

If you book during one of Southwest’s flash sales, you could score awards for less than 1,500 points one-way. You can even fly to fun faraway destinations like Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

How does the Southwest Priority compare with other Southwest personal cards?

Southwest Airlines currently offers three personal cards. Both the Priority and Premier cards offer the same sign up bonus as the Priority, so it can be difficult to choose the perfect card for your wallet.

Let’s take a look at the earning rates, perks, and annual fees across all three personal Southwest credit cards:

Card featureSouthwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Annual fee$69.$99.$149.
Sign-up bonus
50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.50,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Anniversary points bonus 3,000 Rapid Rewards points.6,000 Rapid Rewards points.7,500 Rapid Rewards points.
Earning rates
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases.
  • 2 points per dollar spent with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners.
  • 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

 

  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases.
  • 2 points per dollar spent with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners.
  • 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases.
  • 2 points per dollar spent with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners.
  • 2 points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2 points per dollar on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Other perks25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi.25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi.$75 annual Southwest travel credit.

Four upgraded boardings per year (when available).

25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi.

Tier qualifying pointsN/A.Earn 1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in a calendar year (with no limits).Earn 1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent in a calendar year (with no limits).
Upgraded boardings (when available)N/A.N/A.4 per year.
Early Bird Check-In2 per year.2 per year.N/A.
Foreign transaction fee3%.None.None.

The Southwest Priority Card Credit Card is the obvious choice for anyone who flies Southwest two or more times a year. The $75 travel credit effectively drops the card’s annual fee to $74.

Factor in its 7,500-point anniversary bonus, worth $112.50 according to TPG’s latest valuations, and you’ll actually come out $38.50 ahead just by having the card. This is before even considering the card’s other perks.

However, the Southwest Priority card doesn’t just compete with other Southwest cards. It also can go head to head with more general travel cards — which may even offer a direct pathway to earning Rapid Rewards points.

Two cards that effectively earn Southwest points are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Southwest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can easily transfer your points earned with either of these cards to the airline. The Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee and earns:

  • 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal.
  • 5 points per dollar on Lyft (through March 2025).
  • 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and online groceries (excludes Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs).
  • 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal.
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.

It also offers valuable travel benefits, including primary car rental coverage and trip delay protection.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

Meanwhile, the Sapphire Reserve offers 3 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases plus many of the same travel protections as the Sapphire Preferred. In addition, you’ll enjoy a $300 annual travel credit along with Priority Pass lounge access. However, it does come with a notably higher annual fee of $550.

If you value the flexibility of a transferable points program like Chase Ultimate Rewards (but still want the choice to convert your earnings to Southwest points), then one of these cards may be your best bet.

Otherwise, if you’re after Southwest-specific perks when you travel, the Southwest Priority card could make a lot of sense.

Bottom line

If you fly Southwest at least a few times each year, you’re sure to come out ahead with the Southwest Priority Credit Card.

The card’s everyday earning rates leave something to be desired, but impressive built-in perks like a $75 annual travel credit and 7,500-point anniversary bonus easily make up for it.

Apply here for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Benét J. Wilson, Jennifer Yellin, Joseph Hostetler and Christina Ly.

Featured image by ANGEL DIBILIO/SHUTTERSTOCK
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023