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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

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  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$149
  • Sign Up Bonus 85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

If you’re looking for a Southwest credit card stacked with travel rewards and perks, this is it. Although it has the highest annual fee of Southwest consumer cards, you could easily offset the fee if you travel Southwest frequently.

Practical Perks and a Reasonable Annual Fee for Frequent Southwest Flyers

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card isn’t your average premium credit card. It seems downright modest compared to the behemoths. But what it lacks in glamor, it makes up for with substance. In exchange for a relatively reasonable $149 annual fee, it packs many perks to improve your travel experience on a notoriously egalitarian airline. If you are a loyal Southwest flyer looking to fast-track your way to a Companion Pass® or want extra points for your next Southwest flight, the Priority card can get you there.

 

Pros

  • Although there's a $149 annual fee, the $75 Southwest annual travel credit makes the card much more affordable for frequent flyers
  • 7,500 anniversary bonus points as a cardmember

Cons

  • Higher annual fee may not be a fit for some
  • Must fly Southwest with some frequency for card to make sense

Card Highlights

Southwest already offers flyers two free checked bags and a free carry-on. The airline has no premium cabin or seat selection. So which Priority credit card perks make flying Southwest more pleasant? Benefits include bonus points, travel credits and upgraded boardings:

  • 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on local transit, internet, phone services and select streaming services
  • 7,500 anniversary points
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • Four upgraded boardings per year when available
  • 25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi
  • No foreign transaction fees

Frequent Southwest flyers will get the most value out of this card, especially those who tend to choose this airline over others.

Sign-Up Bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card comes with a generous sign-up bonus:

  • Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

That bonus offer will go a long way toward domestic flights and even international destinations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

It should be noted that other, less-expensive Southwest consumer cards also offer the same sign-up bonus. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, on the other hand, justifies its higher fee in ways other than the sign-up bonus.

What Our Credit Card Experts Are Saying

“Southwest Airlines is the go-to airline for our family of six for domestic travel, so it was a no-brainer to get a co-branded card. I chose the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card over other options despite the higher annual fee for access to upgraded boardings. The $75 annual Southwest credit helps me recoup some of that fee, anyway.

“Timing is everything when applying for Southwest credit cards. We’ve earned the Southwest companion pass several times by timing our card applications and spending to earn sign-up bonuses. And with a large family, having one family member fly for free (except for taxes and fees) is a huge savings.”

Kevin Payne Writer

Earning Rewards

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers generous rewards in common spending categories. These rewards can add up if you spend a lot on commuting, streaming and travel. Depending on your spending habits, you could make this your go-to card for purchases.

Here's how you earn rewards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card:

  • 3x points on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2x points on internet, cable, and phone services and select streaming services
  • 1x points on all other purchases

However, earning Southwest elite status may be the best way to earn more points. In addition to other advantages, obtaining A-List status earns 25% more points on Southwest purchases, and A-List Preferred earns 100% more. 

You can get a head start on achieving elite status by taking advantage of the Priority card's bonus of 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) per $10,000 in purchases. Even better, that number drops to $5,000 starting January 1, 2024, making it even easier to achieve A-List status. The more you spend with this Southwest card, the more you can earn.

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Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

$69 1x - 2xPoints More Info

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

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Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

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$95 1X-10XPoints More Info

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Redeeming Rewards

Your options for redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards are somewhat limited compared to most other airline cards. You can redeem your Rapid Rewards points for:

  • Gift cards: You can redeem points for gift cards from many popular brands and retailers.
  • Merchandise: Points can be redeemed for merchandise ranging from electronics to home products.
  • Hotel stays: Redeem for hotel stays at over 70,000 hotels worldwide.
  • Experiences: This can include cruises, spa packages, kayaking, and more.
  • Southwest flights: Southwest doesn’t partner with any major airlines, so members are limited to redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points on Southwest flights. Slickdeals values Rapid Rewards points at about 1.4 cents, which is not bad compared to other airline valuations.

Southwest credit card members get access to More Rewards, which includes international flights and hotels, events, rental car bookings and gift cards. While that makes the card more appealing, remember that the redemption value isn’t great. You’ll get less than 1 cent per point on international flights, which is not ideal.

Card Benefits and Perks

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers generous benefits that offset the $149 annual fee. Southwest isn’t a flashy airline, so these benefits are as flashy as it gets:

  • 7,500 points every cardmember anniversary
  • $75 in Southwest Airlines travel credits per year
  • Upgraded boarding up to four times per year
  • Accelerated path toward A-List status
  • In-flight discounts
  • Travel insurances
  • No foreign transaction fees

7,500 Bonus Points Every Cardmember Anniversary

Priority cardholders earn 7,500 bonus points annually for renewing and paying the annual fee. This is a pretty valuable perk since earning 7,500 points would require a minimum of $2,500 in credit card spending. Your 7,500 Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be worth about $100 on many flights. Even occasional Southwest flyers will find value in this benefit.

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$75 Annual Southwest Travel Credit

The card’s $75 annual travel credit is one of the most valuable recurring perks. You can use it on virtually any Southwest purchase, including flights and vacation packages. In-flight purchases and upgraded boardings are excluded. The credit applies cumulatively throughout the cardmember year, so you don’t have to use it all on one purchase.

Four Upgraded Boardings Per Year

If you’ve ever flown Southwest, you know what a hassle the boarding process can be. If you don’t check in for your flight exactly 24 hours in advance, you’ll end up in a late boarding position. Translation: You’ll end up sitting in the back with no overhead space left and possibly in a middle seat. 

With the four annual upgraded boardings from the Southwest Priority Credit Card, members can avoid this hassle and get automatic Group A1–15 boarding. Simply purchase an upgraded boarding with your Southwest Priority Credit Card (when available), and you’ll get a statement credit.

1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for Every $10,000 Spent ($5,000 in January 2024)

If four upgraded boardings a year aren’t enough, you can spend your way to A-list status with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. The card earns 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent. And that number is decreasing to $5,000 in January 2024. Southwest A-List status normally requires 35,000 TQPs and includes priority boarding. 

If you make it to 70,000 points, you’ll reach A-List Preferred status. At this level, you’ll enjoy the same perks as A-List members, plus complimentary Wi-Fi and 100% bonus points on paid flights. What's more, as of November 6, 2023, A-List Preferred status members can also get two free drinks per eligible flight.

25% Back on In-Flight Purchases

Southwest doesn’t offer much for sale during flights, so the 25% discount on purchases won’t go very far. You can use it to pay for Wi-Fi, which costs $8 per day, or alcoholic beverages. Otherwise, the airline doesn’t sell food, so you won’t get much value from this benefit unless you’re traveling with a group.

Simply charge your purchases to your Southwest Priority Credit Card, and you’ll get 25% back as a statement credit within 1-2 billing cycles.

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Insurance

Whether traveling or staying put, you want your valuables to be protected in case of damage or theft. The Southwest Priority Credit Card gives you peace of mind with four types of protection:

  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per passenger.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 per day for three days when your luggage is delayed over six hours.
  • Extended warranty: Extends eligible warranties of three years or less by one additional year.
  • Purchase protection: Covers purchases for 120 days against damage or theft, up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.

DashPass

Cardmembers who sign up by Dec. 31, 2024, can enjoy a year of free DashPass. Membership includes free deliveries through DoorDash and Caviar. DashPass normally costs $9.99 per month or $96 per year. If you already pay for it, this benefit can largely offset the Southwest Priority Credit Card’s $149 annual fee.

Drawbacks

When considering the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, it's essential to weigh both its advantages and disadvantages. While this card provides significant benefits to frequent Southwest Airlines flyers, some aspects may discourage potential cardholders.

  • $149 annual fee may be a deterrent. The card's advantages—such as annual travel credits and upgraded boardings—might be able to offset this fee, but only loyal Southwest Airlines passengers can truly benefit from these advantages. For those who don't regularly fly with the airline, these benefits may not be worth the high annual fee.
  • Rewards structure is fairly limited. Cardholders don't get many points unless they spend money directly with the airline or on select purchases related to travel and transportation. This means the card is not ideal for everyday spending if you're looking to maximize your points.
  • Minimal reward redemption options. Points can only be redeemed for Southwest flights or their hotel and car rental partners, gift cards or merchandise. This limits the flexibility typically associated with more general travel credit cards, which allow points to be redeemed for a broader range of travel-related purchases or for cash back.
  • No 0% introductory APR period. Many other cards provide this benefit, which can be a big help for new cardholders who have big purchases coming up or want to transfer a balance from another high-interest card.
  • Southwest presence is limited in certain areas: Southwest Airlines is a low-cost carrier with few international flight options. If you frequently travel internationally, this card may be less useful. Also, if you live in a city where Southwest doesn't have many flights, the rewards on this card may be ineffective.

Comparison With Other Southwest Cards

Compare Southwest Consumer Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee Intro Bonus Perks Learn More

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

$69 85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
$99 85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

$149 85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 25% back on inflight drinks & Wi-Fi
  • 4 upgraded boardings when available

The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the premium card of the three co-branded Southwest cards. It has the same welcome bonus as the other two cards, with a few more travel perks thrown in. 

It also has no foreign transaction fees, which is great for international travelers. Meanwhile, the Rapid Rewards Plus card has a 3% foreign transaction fee. That amounts to a $30 fee for every $1,000 spent. 

When choosing a Southwest card, consider which perks you’ll get the most value from. The Priority credit card offers plenty of perks that offset the $149 annual fee, but only if you use them every year.

Annual Fee

The Priority Credit Card has a $149 annual fee. It’s the most expensive Southwest credit card on the market. 

However, benefits such as the $75 in annual travel credits cut the annual fee in half. And, depending on the flight for which you redeem them, the four upgraded boardings per year have the potential to exceed the cost of the fee.

Other Fees

Aside from the annual fee, here are some common fees you might encounter with this card:

  • Interest charges
  • Late payment fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Cash advance fees

The good news is the Southwest Priority Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for those who frequently make international purchases.

Recommended Credit Score

One factor to consider when applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is your credit score. This card is generally intended for applicants with good to excellent credit. It is important to note, however, that the card issuer, Chase, does not officially publish minimum credit score requirements.

While a specific credit score is difficult to determine, many financial experts and cardholders recommend a credit score of 670 or higher to increase your chances of approval. 

It's also important to remember that Chase doesn't just look at your credit score when reviewing your application. Your income, existing debts, and credit utilization rate are all important considerations.

How the Southwest Priority Credit Card Compares to Other Travel Cards

Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee Rewards Rate Learn More

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

85,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,190 (85,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

$149 1x - 3xPoints More Info

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

United℠ Explorer Card

60,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Limited-time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $840 (60,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$95 More info

$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

1x - 2xPoints More Info

Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays and United® purchases. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

$95 1x- 5xPoints More Info

Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is a strong contender among airline credit cards due to its high rewards rate on Southwest purchases and perks like upgraded boardings and annual travel credit. 

However, its benefits are primarily tied to Southwest Airlines, making it less versatile than general travel cards that allow points to be used across multiple airlines or travel services.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs United℠ Explorer Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card and the United℠ Explorer Card cater to different types of travelers and have distinct benefits. The Southwest Priority Credit Card is best suited for frequent domestic flyers because it has a strong domestic network but a limited international presence. The card offers solid perks for Southwest devotees and loyalists, but it does, however, have a high annual fee.

On the other hand, the United Explorer Card would be preferable if you frequently fly United Airlines, particularly internationally because of United's extensive global coverage. The card comes with two United Club℠ one-time passes each anniversary year, a free first checked bag, priority boarding, and a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. The annual fee is $95, which is waived for the first year. It's an attractive option, especially for those who are looking for a few more comforts at the airport while waiting for their flights.

Consider your travel habits and which card perks you value most when making your decision. If you're a frequent Southwest flyer who can make the most of the unique card benefits, the Southwest Priority Credit Card would be a good fit, despite its higher annual fee. The travel credits and bonus points earned each anniversary year can also help offset this cost.

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

For a $95 annual fee, travelers should consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® if they want to earn rewards on a wider variety of travel expenses as well as on regular spending like dining and online grocery purchases (excluding purchases from Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs).

These rewards rates, especially in light of the Sapphire Preferred Card's 25% point value boost when points are redeemed for Chase Travel℠, may be significantly more valuable for many than the Southwest Priority Credit Card's rewards. The Sapphire Preferred's flexible points can even be exchanged for cash back at a 1 cent per point rate, or you can get even more value by transferring points to any of Chase's numerous airline and hotel partners, including Southwest.

However, if you're looking for airline-specific perks, the Priority Credit Card may be preferable because it offers loyalty benefits that a more general travel card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, does not.

Who Should Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card?

Those who travel frequently with Southwest Airlines will benefit the most from carrying the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. Indeed, for devoted Southwest loyalists, the card's benefits, such as the annual travel credit, anniversary bonus points and accelerated rewards earnings on purchases from Southwest, can add up to significant savings.

On the other hand, the card may not be a good fit for those who don't often fly with Southwest Airlines. The card's rewards system is centered on purchases with Southwest, and its perks are geared toward frequent Southwest flyers. If you don't regularly use this airline or if you prefer more flexibility with your rewards redemption, you may want to consider a more general travel or cash-back credit card.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The worthiness of the Southwest Priority Credit Card largely depends on how often you fly with Southwest Airlines. The card's benefits, such as 3x points on Southwest purchases, an annual $75 Southwest travel credit and 7,500 anniversary points, can provide significant value to frequent Southwest flyers. However, those who don't travel often with Southwest may not find the card's high annual fee to be justified.

  • Upgrading to the Southwest Priority Credit Card can be beneficial if you frequently fly with Southwest. The Priority Credit Card comes with additional perks not offered by the lower-tier Southwest cards, such as the $75 annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year and a higher anniversary points bonus.

  • You are entitled to four upgraded boardings per year as a Southwest Priority cardholder. To use this benefit, purchase an upgraded boarding with your card at the airport, and a statement credit for the cost of the upgraded boarding will be applied to your account. This benefit is contingent on its availability.

  • Rapid Rewards is Southwest Airlines' frequent flyer program, and membership does not inherently grant priority boarding. However, certain fare types and credit card holders, such as those with the Southwest Priority Credit Card, do have access to priority boarding benefits.

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Ariana Arghandewal

Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser, an online publication dedicated to rewards travel topics. She brings over a decade of experience writing about travel, points, miles and credit cards. Her expertise includes her roles as an editor for distinguished travel and finance publications such as NerdWallet, The Points Guy and FlyerTalk. She has also authored many articles featured in major financial news & travel channels like Forbes, U.S. News Weekly, Business Insider & Fodor’s Travel.