Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card review: Fast track to the Companion Pass

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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. The card is also offering its highest-ever sign-up bonus. 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. It even offers an all-time high bonus of 100,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements.

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 comes with 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.

Sign-up bonus: Up to 100,000 points

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is offering up to 100,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements:

  • 50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • 50,000 additional points after spending a total of $12,000 on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening

That’s 100,000 bonus miles after spending $12,000 during your first year of cardmembership. Considering you only need to earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points to achieve the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, this bonus is a fast-track to achieving one of the best deals in travel.

With the Companion Pass, you can bring along a friend or family member every time you fly Southwest for just the cost of taxes and fees (often around $11.20 each way). Earning 112,000 points means you’re nearly 90% of the way there.

The Southwest Companion Pass is good through the calendar year you earn it and the following calendar year. So to maximize your window to use it, earn it as early into 2022 as possible, rather than earning the pass this year, as 2021 is nearly over.

Just note that the date your points post is the year in which they will count toward a Companion Pass. For example, if you were to open this card and spend $2,000 on purchases in November, 50,000 points will post to your account before 2022. These will not count toward earning the Companion Pass in 2022.

Related: How to use the Southwest Companion Pass

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, up to $100,000.

In addition to the Southwest-specific benefits, the card comes with lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insuranceextended warranty, 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, they 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 6,454 points one-way, depending on the time of year. Meanwhile, American Airlines and United typically charge 12,500 miles (assuming you can find saver-award availability).

(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?

All three cards are currently offering the same sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 miles after meeting tiered spending requirements:

  • 50,000 points for spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • 50,000 additional points after spending a total of $12,000 on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening

The difference between the cards comes in the form of perks and annual fees. Let’s take a look at the earning rates, perks, and annual fees across all three personal Southwest credit cards:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Annual fee $69 $99 $149
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 N/A N/A $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. Earn 1,500 TQPs for each $10,000 spent.
Upgraded boardings per year (when available) N/A N/A 4
Early Bird Check-In 2 per year 2 per year N/A
Foreign transaction fee 3% None None

The Southwest Priority Card is the obvious choice for anyone who flies Southwest two or more times a year. The card’s 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.

Other cards that effectively earn Southwest points are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. 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 2022)
  • 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

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 100,000-point offer.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson, Jennifer Yellin, and Joseph Hostetler.

Featured photo by Angel DiBilio/Shutterstock.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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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