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Is it worth it to apply for the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card?

Cashing In with Tony Mecia

Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. Every week, he answers readers’ questions about credit card rewards programs in his “Cashing In” column.

Ask Tony a question, or see if your question has already been answered in the Cashing In answer archive.

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Southwest’s new Priority card: Is it worth it?

Southwest Airlines and Chase are offering a new premium card loaded with perks – and a higher annual fee. Should you get it?

If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, you might want to take a look at Chase’s new Southwest card.

    Expert Q&A

    Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

    Dear Cashing In,

     I just saw that Southwest Airlines came out with a new credit card. I fly Southwest a few times a year. Does it make sense to get the new card? – William

    Dear William,

    You’re asking the right question – if you only fly Southwest a few times a year, is the new premium Chase Southwest credit card worth getting.

    Airlines and the banks they work with typically offer multiple versions of airline reward cards to appeal to different kinds of customers, ranging from a basic card with a low annual fee and meager rewards to those with higher annual fees and greater rewards.

    The new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card comes with a $149 annual fee. While the Priority card is the most expensive of the three Chase Southwest cards, it also is potentially the most lucrative.

    Let’s look a little closer at the three different Southwest cards that are now available:

    See related:New Southwest card launches with 65,000-point bonus

    3 different Chase Southwest cards to choose from

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

    • Annual fee: $149
    • Sign-up bonus: 40,000 Southwest miles after spending $1,000 in first three months; additional 25,000 miles after spending $15,000 in first year; plus 7,500 miles each year on anniversary date.
    • Earning: 2 miles per $1 spend on Southwest, 1 mile per $1 on all else.
    • Other perks: $75 annual travel credit, 4 free upgraded boardings per year, 20 percent off in-flight purchases.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

    • Annual fee: $99.
    • Sign-up bonus: 40,000 Southwest miles after spending $1,000 in first three months; plus 6,000 miles each year on anniversary date.
    • Earning: 2 miles per $1 spend on Southwest, 1 mile per $1 on all else.

    Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

    • Annual fee: $69.
    • Sign-up bonus: 40,000 Southwest miles after spending $1,000 in first three months; plus 3,000 miles each year on anniversary date.
    • Earning: 2 miles per $1 spend on Southwest, 1 mile per $1 on all else.

    You can see that the three cards are similar in many respects, in that they earn miles on purchases in the same way and give you a healthy 40,000 miles after a meager amount of initial spending.

    If you want to dial up the perks, you pay a little more in annual fees, so which card to get is going to depend on the value of those perks to you.

    Why new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is worth considering

    If you are considering applying for one of the Southwest cards, you should take a hard look at the new offering, the Priority card – especially if you are a regular Southwest customer:

    • The $75 annual travel credit applied to Southwest purchases effectively knocks the price of the card down to $74 a year ($149 annual fee minus the $75 you save on Southwest tickets). That’s just $5 a year more than the basic Plus card.
    • You get the priority boarding (spots A1-A15) four times a year.
    • Plus, you have the opportunity to earn 25,000 additional miles for spending $15,000 in a year, plus more miles annually, plus a discount on in-flight purchases.

    Interestingly, the new card builds in several features to encourage you to hang on to the card for the long term and to make it your primary card.

    By giving you perks on your anniversary date, it discourages applicants from applying for the card then quickly closing the account just to reap miles.

    And by requiring a hefty $15,000 spend in the first year to earn the additional 25,000 miles, the card is designed to ensure you actually use it in place of other cards.

    Tip

    Tip: When considering an airline credit card, take a look at the benefits the card may offer beyond the rewards structure or sign-up bonus. These may include priority boarding, in-flight purchase discounts or elite status.

    Why Southwest cards are so valuable

    Southwest miles tend to be valuable because surveys consistently show that the airline makes more award seats available than just about any other airline.

    Also, note that the 65,000 miles you can earn in sign-up bonuses from the new Priority card can count toward one of the best deals out there, the Southwest Companion Pass.

    This requires accumulating 110,000 Southwest miles in one year and gets you almost-free passes for a traveling companion on any Southwest flight you take for a year.

    However, in the fine print, there are two important caveats:

    • First, people who already have a Chase Southwest card, or who have received a sign-up bonus on a Chase Southwest card in the last 24 months, are ineligible for a new sign-up bonus with the new Priority card.
    • Second, since this is a Chase card, you are unlikely to be approved for this new card if you have been approved for five or more credit cards from any combination of banks in the last 24 months (a restriction known as the Chase 5/24 rule).

    But if you fly Southwest regularly and don’t currently have a Southwest card, by all means, the new Priority card is worth considering.

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    Published: July 20, 2018

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