Southwest Priority credit card review: Valuable perks for frequent Southwest travelers
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new 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 Airlines has a legion of fans — largely due to its flexible change/cancellation policies and offering two free checked bags for all passengers. Unlike other airlines, Southwest doesn’t offer lounges, premium cabins 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, and its current sign-up bonus offers a healthy point bonus.
But are its benefits valuable enough to warrant the $149 annual fee? And is now the right time for you to apply? Let’s find out.
Southwest Priority Card Welcome offer
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card currently offers a welcome bonus of 60,000 bonus points plus a 30% off promo code after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. TPG values Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, meaning 60,000 points are worth $900.
This is the first time Southwest has offered a promo code as part of a sign-up bonus on a credit card. The code will appear directly in your Southwest.com account within eight weeks of meeting the spending requirement. It can be used — only once — on a single one-way or round-trip Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime and Business Select fare, and is available for use until October 31, 2024.
Given it is a single-use promo code, it would be best to save this for a more expensive ticket. You'll get the biggest savings when using the code for round-trip travel and/or during peak travel periods like the summer or the holidays.
Note that the welcome bonus will count toward earning the carrier's venerated Companion Pass, which typically requires 135,000 points in a calendar year.
Related: 13 lessons from 13 years’ worth of Southwest Companion Passes
All Southwest cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means if you’ve opened five or more 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.
Earning points with the Southwest Priority Card
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 apps.
- 2 points per dollar on internet, cable and phone services; select streaming.
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
This is a wide variety of bonus categories compared to other airline credit cards, though top travel cards are typically even more lucrative.
Related: The best rewards credit cards for each bonus category
Redeeming points with the Southwest Priority Card
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, meaning the number of points you need for a flight will fluctuate, but you’ll rarely encounter times when you can’t use your points. Plus, if your plans change, you can redeposit your award without penalty.
While Southwest’s Rapid Rewards points won’t help you fly in first-class suites, they can provide great value. For instance, you can fly from Los Angeles (LAX) to Chicago-Midway (MDW) for just 8,091 points one-way, depending on the time of year. Meanwhile, other airlines often charge 10,000 miles or even more (assuming you can find availability).
If you book during one of Southwest’s flash sales, you could score awards for less than 2,500 points one-way. You can even fly to fun faraway destinations like Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico with your Southwest points.
Southwest Rapid Rapid Rewards Priority benefits
The Southwest Priority card offers the following benefits:
- 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.
- 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.
- 25% inflight savings: Receive 25% back (as 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, and the annual fee is $149.
Which cards compete with the Southwest Priority Card?
Southwest Airlines currently offers three personal cards — all with the same sign-up bonus. Thus, it can be difficult to choose the right one.
- If you want Southwest benefits with a more modest fee: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has the same welcome bonus but extra perks to justify its $99 annual fee. These include 6,000 anniversary bonus points, 2 EarlyBird check-ins per year, 25% back on inflight purchases and 1,500 TQPs towards A-List status for each $10,000 spent on the card. For more details, read our full review of the Southwest Premier card.
- If you want a Southwest card with an even lower annual fee: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus has a $69 annual fee and an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. You’ll also receive 2 EarlyBird check-ins every card anniversary. For more information, read our full review of the Southwest Plus card.
- If you want points you can use with Southwest and other airlines: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer 1:1 to Southwest — as well as a wide range of airlines — for making flight redemptions. You’ll get numerous travel protections, a $50 annual hotel credit and robust earning categories, and the card has a $95 annual fee. For more information, read our full review of the Sapphire Preferred.
For more options, check out our full list of travel credit cards.
Related: Comparing the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, Premier, and Plus Credit Cards
Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card worth it?
If you fly Southwest at least a few times each year, you will come out ahead with the Southwest Priority Credit Card. The card’s everyday earning rates aren't the most lucrative out there, but impressive built-in perks like upgraded boardings, a $75 annual travel credit and a 7,500-point anniversary bonus easily make up for it.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the most rewarding of Southwest Airlines’ personal credit cards, with a solid sign-up bonus and the most benefits of any of the airline’s offerings. If you fly Southwest often, it's the card for you.
Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Benét J. Wilson, Jennifer Yellin, Joseph Hostetler, Christina Ly and Ryan Smith.