Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review

Updated: February 6, 2024

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Updated: February 6, 2024

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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
4.5 rating
4.5 rating
4.5 / 5
Rewards Value:4.0
Annual Percentage Rate:4.0
Rewards Flexibility:3.0
Features:4.0
Issuer Customer Experience4.0

In a Nutshell:

It lacks the heft of most elite airline cards, but for loyal Southwest flyers, this card offers enough value to justify its higher fee.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2:1 on local transit, commuting (including rideshare), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
Very Good

Sign-up Bonus

Limited-time offer: Earn a Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Very Good

Annual Bonus

  • 7,500 points on your card anniversary
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points each calendar year
Excellent

Annual Fee
$149

Poor

APR
21.49% - 28.49% Variable

Average

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • Unlimited rewards seats
  • Use miles for airfare, gift cards, merchandise, car rentals, cruises, hotel stays, access to exclusive events
  • No change fee
  • No booking fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • One-way rewards tickets permitted

Cons

  • No stopovers permitted on rewards tickets
  • Limited options for international travel
  • You can only book rewards flights on Southwest, since Southwest doesn’t have airline partners
Very Good

Chase Customer Service Ratings

  • J. D. Power 2021 customer satisfaction rating: 807 (30% of issuers in this category ranked higher)
  • 24/7 customer service?: Yes
  • Online chat available?: No
  • Google Play Store mobile app rating: 4.3/5
  • Apple Store mobile app rating: 4.8/5
Very Good

Other Notable Features: $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 4 Upgraded Boardings per year (when available), 25% discount on in-flight purchases, no foreign transaction fees, 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 spent (up to $100,000/15,000 TQPs per year), 2 free checked bags.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is the highest-tier co-branded Southwest consumer travel rewards card. Many of its features are also found on the entry-level and mid-tier options, but the Southwest Priority card goes further.

The Rapid Rewards Priority card offers a number of perks that can easily offset its $149 annual fee, including four upgraded boardings per year (when available) and a $75 annual travel credit. The card also carries a higher anniversary bonus than other Southwest cards. These two perks should stand out for frequent Southwest flyers who want to reach Southwest A-list status or earn the coveted Companion Pass down the line.

But unless you’re looking for Southwest-specific benefits, this may not be your best option as a travel card. It lacks several features you can find with other airline credit cards, like automatic priority boarding on every flight for you and your companions, discounted or complimentary lounge access and a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. If you don’t care which airline you fly and would rather earn rewards on everyday purchases like groceries, gas and dining than on flights, you may get better value out of a general-purpose travel rewards card.

Why you might want the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

If you frequently fly with Southwest, the Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is a great way to earn points, especially thanks to its high annual bonus. And though the card comes with a high annual fee, it offers more valuable perks than other Southwest cards.

Valuable sign-up bonus

For a limited time, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card sign-up bonus gives you a chance to earn one of the most coveted perks in all of rewards travel: The Southwest Companion Pass®. You can earn a Companion Pass good through Feb. 28, 2025 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first three months as a cardholder.

This is a terrific offer if you frequently fly Southwest with another person. The Companion Pass lets you pick a companion to fly with you for free (minus taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way and $11.20 round-trip) on any flight you book with cash or points. For as long as the pass is valid, there’s no limit to how many flights you can take. This bonus offer is especially impressive considering you typically need to earn 135,000 points from qualifying purchases or take 100 qualifying one-way flights to earn the Companion Pass.

The exact value of the Companion Pass is hard to pin down since this will depend on how often you use it and the value of the tickets it covers. However, if you take five flights per year that cost around $150 each and bring a companion with you, this perk could be worth roughly $750.

The 30,000 bonus points are just the cherry on top, worth around $450 on their own based on Bankrate’s latest airline mile valuations, which give Rapid Rewards points a value of around 1.5 cents per point. That’s not bad given the card’s annual fee, and should at least offset the card’s cost for at least the first couple years.

Anniversary credits and bonus points

The Southwest Priority card also comes with a 7,500-point bonus every year on your account anniversary. This might not seem like much, but it could be worth over $110 in airfare based on Bankrate’s airline mile valuations.

The card also includes an annual Southwest travel credit of up to $75, which is automatically applied to your statement when you use your card to make a Southwest purchase (excluding in-flight purchases). Taken together, the recurring anniversary bonus and annual  $75 airfare credit, can  offset the card’s $149 annual fee on their own.

You’ll seldom find perks this valuable on a general rewards card. However, like most of the card’s benefits, you’ll need to be a loyal Southwest customer to take advantage.

Decent rewards rate on Southwest purchases

The Southwest Priority card earns 3X points on Southwest purchases. This is a nice rate for an airline rewards card considering some cards only offer 2X miles on direct bookings made with a given airline. It’s also on par with some higher-tier competitors like the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, which also earns 3X miles on Delta purchases, but charges a $650 annual fee. The Rapid Rewards Priority card matches that rate and costs over $400 less.

The Priority card also earns 2X points for Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, local transit and commuting purchases, as well as internet, cable, phone and select streaming service subscriptions. All other purchases earn 1X points.

While this is a decent mix of everyday categories, it’s not likely to be the most practical or rewarding based on most people’s spending habits. Many airline cards carry weak rewards rates in everyday categories like groceries and gas, so if racking up travel rewards is more important to you than airline-specific perks, you may want to check out general-purpose travel cards like the Chase Sapphire cards or one of the Capital One Venture cards.

See related: 16 ways to earn Southwest points quickly

Generous upgraded boarding and in-flight discounts

You can get four free upgrades into the A1-A15 boarding group each year per year. Though not as valuable as the unlimited preferred status that comes with some airline cards, this is a nice perk to have if you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, especially if you tend to have trouble finding a spot for your carry-on bags. Plus, cardholders get a 25% discount on in-flight purchases with the card, including drinks and Wi-Fi.

Complimentary insurances and reimbursements

As long as you book and pay for your car rental with your card, you can receive secondary insurance coverage in the case of damage or theft. The card also covers essential purchases like toiletries if your baggage is delayed by six hours or more (up to $100 per day for no more than three days). If your bag is lost, you can also be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger to replace your items.

These are all generous perks that can make traveling more comfortable and give you peace of mind.

Tip: Most airline cards tout free checked bags as a feature, but every passenger on Southwest – whether or not they’re a Southwest cardholder – gets two free checked bags.

May offer better value than lower-cost Southwest cards

If you’re eager to rack up Rapid Rewards points, but hesitant about paying a high annual fee, you may consider a less expensive Southwest card – the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. The Premier card offers the same rewards rate and sign-up bonus as the Priority card, as well as a slightly lower annual fee of $99, but it comes with fewer perks.

If you’re focused on earning miles, the Premier card may be a better fit, but we estimate frequent Southwest flyers can get more value overall with the Priority card thanks to its additional perks. Here’s a quick look at each card’s annual bonus and extra benefits:

Southwest Rapid Rewards PrioritySouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier
7,500 annual bonus points (worth around $120 in airfare)6,000 annual bonus points (worth around $90 in airfare)
$75 Southwest travel credit
4 upgraded boardings (when available)
25% in-flight discount
$149 annual fee$99 annual fee

As you can see, it’s easy to offset the Priority card’s slightly higher fee thanks to its higher annual bonus and yearly travel credit. Even if you keep your spending habits the same, the Priority card’s $75 travel credit more than makes up for the difference between both cards’ annual fees. You just need to pay for airfare with your card.

Why you might want a different card

The Southwest Priority card is a solid choice for flyers loyal to this budget-friendly airline. But it may not provide the best value if you tend to take international trips or fail to make the most of its perks. If you’re looking for a more flexible travel card that earns rewards when you book with any airline (including on international trips), you might be better off with a general travel rewards card.

Limited redemption options

Southwest’s loyalty program isn’t the worst out there, but Rapid Rewards points may not give you the best value if you don’t plan ahead. Among Southwest’s three fare categories – Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select – only Wanna Get Away redemptions provide much more than 1 cent-per-point in value.

FareAverage point value (cents)
Wanna Get Away1.6
Anytime1.1
Business Select0.9

And it doesn’t get any better if you try to redeem your points for options beyond flying with the airline:

Redemption optionPoint value (cents)
Gift cards0.7
Car rentals0.7
Merchandise0.6
Hotel0.2
Experiences0.8

If you’d like the flexibility to redeem rewards for cash back, gift certificates or outside travel purchases without sacrificing rewards value, you’ll likely find that Southwest’s cards (like most co-branded cards) fall short of the flexibility found on general travel rewards cards.

See Related: The best ways to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Limited routes and no transfer partners

Southwest Airlines has undergone a route expansion and now flies to more than 100 destinations. However, the airline still doesn’t fly to Europe, Asia or Africa, and its list of routes pales in comparison to major airlines like United Airlines or American Airlines, both of which fly to over 300 destinations worldwide.

Southwest also lacks transfer partners, so points you earn with the Rapid Rewards Priority card are locked into the Rapid Rewards program. If Southwest doesn’t fly to your favorite destination, you’re better off with another airline credit card or general-purpose travel rewards card that lets you transfer points between loyalty programs.

For example, as members of the Oneworld Alliance, the frequent flyer programs for American Airlines and Alaska Airlines make it easier for travelers to earn and redeem their miles across 13 member airlines. And the right general-purpose travel card will also provide greater flexibility to your points or miles. American Express has almost 20 airline transfer partners that will let you use your Membership Rewards points, and Capital One’s airline transfer partners have grown to more than 15 airline loyalty programs.

A-list status isn’t automatic

The Southwest Priority card doesn’t come with automatic elite status. To achieve Southwest A-List status or A-List Preferred status in the Rapid Rewards program, you’ll still have to take 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points (TQPs) in a calendar year. Plus, unlike with the Companion Pass, points earned with the Southwest Priority card’s sign-up bonus won’t count toward A-List status.

While the Southwest Priority card gives you 1,500 TQPs every time you spend $10,000, that still leaves frequent flyers a long way from reaching elite status. If unlocking elite perks is your goal, we recommend taking advantage of other shortcuts like booking short flights or purchasing Business Preferred fares.

The perks may not justify the annual fee

Southwest Airlines is known for low fares and flexibility when booking flights, and many of the perks that come with the Priority card are geared toward people who don’t care about flying first class and budget travelers comfortable with a limited-frills airline experience. As such, the card’s perks don’t carry a ton of monetary value.

For example, if you take several flights per year, you save much with this card’s four upgraded boardings per year (when available). If unlimited priority boarding and being able to secure overhead space on flights is important to you, you’d get better peace of mind with a card like the United℠ Explorer Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card. Both cards have lower annual fees while offering unlimited priority boarding when flying with their respective airlines.

How does the Southwest Priority card compare to other rewards cards?

The Southwest Priority card comes with some valuable benefits for frequent Southwest flyers, but it might not be the best option if you want the flexibility to earn rewards with a mix of airlines or often travel abroad. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Rewards rate

  • 10 points per dollar on Lyft purchases (through March 2025)
  • 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5 points per dollar on air travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3 points per dollar on other travel
  • Earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit
  • 3 points per dollar on dining
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
Rewards rate

  • 2 miles per dollar on hotels, dining, and directly purchased United tickets
  • 1 mile per dollar on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 2 miles per dollar on Delta purchases
  • 2 miles per dollar at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets
  • 1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases
Welcome bonus

60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

Welcome bonus

  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
Welcome bonus

  • Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases in your first 6 months
  • Terms apply
Annual fee

$550

Annual fee

$95 (waived first year)

Annual fee

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $150

Other things to know

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • 50% higher point value when redeemed through Ultimate Rewards
Other things to know

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • 2 one-time passes to the United Club each year
  • 25% in-flight discount
Other things to know

  • Free checked bag for you and up to 8 companions on the same Delta flight reservation
  • Priority boarding
  • 20% in-flight discount
  • Terms apply

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a general-purpose travel card, so it doesn’t offer airline-specific perks like priority boarding or a chance to earn a companion pass or elite status. However, it has some of the best travel benefits available on a rewards card. This can help cover its high $550 annual fee. Most notably, the card includes a $300 credit every year for any travel purchase, applied automatically to your card statement as you make qualifying purchases. There are also plenty of chances to earn high rewards thanks to travel and dining categories that earn points at a higher rate than you’ll typically find on co-branded airline cards.

Plus, points  worth 50% more if you redeem for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards.. The Ultimate Rewards portal lets you book a wide variety of travel purchases, including flights with several airlines. Plus, you can transfer points to Southwest or book Southwest flights with Ultimate Rewards at a fixed value of 1.5 cents per point.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card vs. United Explorer Card

If you are a fan of United Airlines, the United Explorer card offers a bevy of perks. Unlike the Southwest Priority card, the United Explorer offers bonus miles on restaurant purchases. This can make it easier to rack up rewards.

While United MileagePlus miles have a lower average value than Rapid Rewards points, United Airlines has a larger flight network and plenty of international options. If you frequently fly internationally, United’s loyalty program will likely be a better fit.

In addition, the United Explorer card charges a lower annual fee, while still including a generous sign-up bonus and valuable perks. For example, the card includes priority boarding, a credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application every four years and two one-time United Club passes per year.

The included United Club passes alone offer over $100 in value. This compares well with Southwest’s 7,500 anniversary bonus points, though airport lounge access may not be as practical a perk for some cardholders as bonus points. If you value convenience, comfort and being among the first to board the plane, United’s card could be the right pick for you.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card vs. Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card

Another good alternative to the Southwest Priority card is the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express card. The Delta Gold card offers a similar rewards rate to the Southwest Priority, but it features more category variety and comes with an annual fee ($150 per year after the $0 intro annual fee for the first year). Delta SkyMiles are also worth slightly more on average than Rapid Rewards points by Bankrate’s estimates. They can also be used in a much larger flight network that services several international locations.

Delta also offers priority boarding to cardholders and a $200 flight credit when you spend $10,000 in a calendar year. That’s not as valuable as the Rapid Rewards Priority card’s bonus points and travel credit (which also carry no minimum spending requirement), but, since the SkyMiles Gold earns boosted rates in more practical everyday categories it may be easier to earn miles.

Who should get the Southwest Priority card?

  • Frequent Southwest flyers looking to earn points toward reward flights faster.
  • Cardholders who want a chance to earn a Companion Pass®.
  • Travelers who prefer domestic to international travel.

How to use the Southwest Priority card:

Is the Southwest Priority card worth it?

For frequent Southwest travelers, the Southwest Priority card offers plenty of valuable perks that can offset its high annual fee. You’ll enjoy a terrific sign-up bonus, annual credits and bonus points, and an ongoing chance at earning the coveted Companion Pass. While it may not offer the best value compared to some competing airline or general travel rewards cards, as long as you enjoy flying Southwest Airlines and can take advantage of enough perks to offset the annual fee, you should come out ahead with the Southwest Priority card.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

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