Southwest Priority credit card review: Valuable perks for Southwest flyers

May 30, 2022

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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’s personal credit cards, with a $75 annual Southwest credit and 7,500 anniversary bonus points. 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.

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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 new 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.

In This Post

 

Who is this card for?

(Photo by 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.

Current Sign-up bonus

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.

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 at the ticket counter or gate 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.
  • 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 insuranceextended 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.
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
(Photo by 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 Points Flight Screenshot

(Screenshot courtesy of 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 feature Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Southwest 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 perks 25% 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 points N/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-In 2 per year. 2 per year. N/A.
Foreign transaction fee 3%. 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 photo by Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock.

Citi Premier® Card

This card offers a 80,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Plus, earn 3 ThankYou points per $1 at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and on air travel and hotels. 1 ThankYou point per $1 on all other purchases.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Regular APR
18.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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