Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review

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Best overall Southwest card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Rewards rate

2X–3X Points

Annual fee

$149

Intro bonus

100,000 points

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is an ideal travel credit card for jet-setters who frequently book domestic flights, especially those who are loyal to Southwest. You’ll earn points on all your purchases, helping you quickly build up rewards you can redeem for future flights.

Best of all, you’ll get an annual Southwest travel credit, bonus points on your cardmember anniversary, discounts on in-flight purchases and four upgraded boardings per year (depending on availability), making it possible to fly more and have an elevated experience every time you travel.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Rewards on both Southwest-related travel purchases and everyday expenses, including transit and monthly internet, cable, phone and streaming services
  • Great perks for frequent Southwest flyers such as upgraded boarding, an annual travel credit, inflight savings and more
  • A generous 7,500-point anniversary bonus
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to premium travel and purchase protections

Cons

  • $149 annual fee may be hard to offset and is higher than several other airline cards’ yearly cost
  • Offers the same rewards rate and sign-up bonus as its immediate lower-tier sibling, despite the higher annual fee
  • Applicants for Southwest credit cards must have good to excellent credit
  • Rapid Rewards don’t have a fixed redemption scale and points are best used when redeemed for Southwest flights

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 3X points on Southwest purchases, 2X points on Southwest’s Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, local transit and commuting (including rideshares) and internet, cable phone and select streaming services; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn up to 100,000 points during your first year: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months, plus another 50,000 points after spending a total of $12,000 throughout the first 12 months
  • Annual fee: $149
  • Purchase intro APR: None
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable

Current sign-up bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is currently offering up to 100,000 points by the end of your first year. You can obtain 50,000 points during your first three months just by spending $2,000 on purchases, plus another 50,000 points once you spend a total of $12,000 by the end of your first 12 months.

The spending requirement may sound intimidating, but based on a 1.5-cent point value according to The Points Guy’s most recent valuations, you’re getting an impressive $1,500 toward airfare just for putting $1,000 on your card each month.

Rewards

Earning points with your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is incredibly easy, especially if you fly frequently with Southwest. Best of all, your Rapid Rewards points will never expire while your account is open. Keep in mind that the sign-up bonus and rewards rate is the same for all consumer Southwest credit cards, so make sure you can take full advantage of the Priority card’s extra benefits to rake in more points.

Earning rewards

An obvious way to earn points quickly with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is to make Southwest Airlines your go-to airline, whenever possible. Booking flights with Southwest will get you 3 points per dollar spent, and using Southwest partners for hotel stays and car rentals too will net you 2 points per dollar. Southwest’s newest update to the Rapid Rewards Priority card also includes a solid 2 points per dollar on everyday expenses, like local transit and commuting (including rideshares) and your monthly internet, cable, phone and select streaming services. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

Priority cardmembers will receive an anniversary bonus of 7,500 points each year—the highest among Southwest credit cards. You can also earn additional points by shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal and eating out at restaurants in its Dining Rewards program.

But perhaps the most effective way to earn more points is to earn Southwest elite status. On top of other benefits, qualifying for A-List status earns 25 percent more points on Southwest purchases and A-List Preferred delivers an extra 100 percent. You can get a headstart with the Priority card’s bonus 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) per $10,000 in purchases (there’s no longer a limit for earning bonus points this way).

However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card also offers this same TQP bonus. If you go the extra mile and end up flying at least 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 eligible Southwest points in one year, you can stretch your rewards even further with the Companion Pass and its waived airline charges for one passenger (not including taxes and fees).

Bankrate insight

According to Chase’s reward category guidelines, The following streaming services will earn you 2X points with this Southwest Rapid Rewards card:

  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • ESPN+
  • Netflix
  • Sling
  • Vudu
  • Fubo TV
  • Apple Music
  • SiriusXM
  • Pandora
  • Spotify
  • YouTube TV

Redeeming rewards

The Rapid Rewards program boasts unlimited award seats with no blackout dates or restrictions for flight redemptions. You’ll just be required to pay taxes and fees on the award ticket (at least $5.60 for a domestic one-way flight). Southwest award tickets are tethered to the cash value of a ticket. So, a more expensive ticket will require more points.

Your points can also be redeemed for international flights with global carriers, hotel stays, rental cars, merchandise, gift cards and more. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card or another co-branded Southwest card, it’s even possible to gift or donate points.

How much are points worth?

With Rapid Rewards points valued at around 1.5 cents per point maximum, the 7,500-point anniversary bonus could be worth $112.50. However, your reward value may fluctuate depending on several factors, including the redemption option and your reward flight’s destination, time and date.

Benefits

While you won’t get fancy perks like airport lounge access with this Southwest card, you’ll save plenty with its annual travel credit, Southwest priority card upgrades, anniversary bonus and more. Here’s a closer look at what the card has to offer.

Travel perks

You’ll be eligible for a variety of travel savings, including:

  • Four Southwest upgraded boardings a year, subject to availability
  • A $75 Southwest travel credit every year (automatically applied when using your card on eligible travel purchases through the airline)
  • 25 percent back on inflight purchases, such as drinks and Wi-Fi
  • 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on your card so you can reach A-List status faster (priority security line access, priority check-in and upgraded boarding)

Protection and insurance

By using your card, you receive several protection benefits as a Visa card, including:

  • Lost luggage and baggage delay protection, up to $3,000 per traveler if your luggage is damaged or lost, and up to $100 a day for three days if your bags are delayed at least six hours
  • Purchase protection and extended warranty on eligible purchases
  • Car rental collision and theft insurance, roadside assistance and travel accident insurance on eligible auto incidents

Anniversary bonus

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority cardholders will receive an additional 7,500 points on their account anniversary—worth almost $113 toward airfare at a 1.5-cent point value.

Rates and fees

The Rapid Rewards Priority card has an annual fee of $149—the highest of any Southwest personal credit card. However, there are no foreign transaction fees and Southwest never charges change fees, so you have more flexibility with your travel plans. This flexibility is helpful when offsetting your annual fee with rewards since it’ll take a little work; in order to recoup the yearly cost, you’ll need to spend at least $414 per month on Southwest purchases (based on TPG’s 1.5 cent point value).

If you carry a balance month-to-month, you can expect interest to be charged at a rate between 15.99 percent and 22.99 percent variable APR.

How the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card compares to other travel credit cards

Compared to other co-branded airline cards, the Southwest credit card has less flexibility in how you can earn and redeem rewards. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, can potentially rake in more rewards value on a wider variety of travel in addition to everyday expenses like dining—all for a lower $95 annual fee.

The lower-cost Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card might also be worth considering if you’re not as concerned with the Priority card’s bonus features since it offers the same rewards rate, sign-up bonus and TQP-earning feature.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • 3X points on Southwest Airlines flights
  • 2X points on Southwest partner hotel and car rental purchases
  • 2X points on local transit, commuting and rideshares
  • 2X points on internet, cable phone and select streaming services
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$149 Up to 100,000 points during the first year: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus another 50,000 points by spending a total of $12,000 in purchases by the end of the first 12 months
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • 3X points on Southwest Airlines flights
  • 2X points on Southwest partner hotel and car rental purchases
  • 2X points on local transit, commuting and rideshares
  • 2X points on internet, cable phone and select streaming services
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$69 Up to 100,000 points during the first year: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus another 50,000 points by spending a total of $12,000 in purchases by the end of the first 12 months
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points on other travel purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$95 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months

Best cards to pair with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Pair your Southwest credit card with a credit card that has no annual fee and will reward you for everyday purchases, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Right now, you’ll get 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase and on Lyft purchases (through March 2022), 5 percent cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5 percent cash back on all other purchases.

If you have a Chase Sapphire card in your wallet, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Sapphire Preferred, you can opt to convert your earnings into Chase Ultimate Rewards points—a valuable, transferable currency you can use to book flights with other airlines, hotel stays and more.

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card worth it?

This card is perfect for Southwest loyalists who fly often enough with the airline to make use of the points or are pursuing elite status.

If you need more flexibility (and can’t be loyal to Southwest), you’ll be better off with a general travel rewards credit card. These tend to come with bonus rewards on a broader range of spending categories and more redemption options. Look for one with a transferable currency so you can use your points and miles for a wide range of airlines and hotels.