Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card review

Bankrate Staff  in  Airline How we rate our cards  | 

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Best overall Southwest card

Annual Fee:
$149
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for people who want to earn Southwest points fast

  • Rewards rate: 2X points on Southwest Airlines flights and purchases with the airline’s hotel and car rental partners; 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Welcome offer: 30,000 points and a Companion Pass after spending a total of $5,000 in purchases within the first three months (Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2022)
  • Annual fee: $149
  • Purchase intro APR: None
  • Balance transfer intro APR: None
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is ideal for travelers 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 inflight 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.

Current sign-up bonus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is currently offering a 30,000-point sign-up bonus plus a prized Companion Pass (so a companion can travel with you for free, plus taxes and fees) to new cardmembers that spend $5,000 within their first three months (Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2022).

Since 1 Rapid Rewards point is worth approximately 1.5 cents, according to The Points Guy’s most recent valuations, this bonus could weigh in at $450 when redeeming it for Southwest flights. However, the most valuable part of this bundle is the Companion Pass, which is normally only obtainable after amassing 125,000 points or 100 qualifying flights within one year.

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 2 points per dollar spent, as will using Southwest partners for hotel stays and car rentals. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.

While the card doesn’t offer bonus rewards in popular spending categories—a big drawback compared to other airline credit cards—cardmembers will receive an anniversary bonus of 7,500 points each year. 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 Qualifiying Points (TQPs) per $10,000 in purchases (max of 15,000 TQPs/$100,000 in spending per year), however, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card also offers this same TQP bonus.

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 (only $5.60 for a domestic 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 around 1.5 cents per point maximum, the 7,500-point anniversary bonus could be valued at $112.50. However, your reward value may fluctuate depending on several factors, including the redemption option and your reward flight’s destination, time, date and etc.

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)
  • 20 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, such as:

  • 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 to their points balance on every anniversary.

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.

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 airline credit cards

Compared to other co-branded airline cards, the Southwest credit card has less flexibility with how you can earn and redeem rewards. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite® Mastercard® both allow you to earn bonus rewards on everyday spending in addition to airline purchases.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee Welcome bonus
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • Unlimited 2X points on eligible purchases from Southwest Airlines and its hotel and car rental partners
  • 1X points on all other purchases
$149 30,000 points and a Companion Pass after spending a total of $5,000 in purchases within the first three months (through Feb. 28, 2022).
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Unlimited 2X miles on restaurants (including takeout and delivery), U.S. supermarkets and eligible Delta purchases
  • 1X miles on all other purchases
$99 (waived first year) 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite® Mastercard®
  • Unlimited 2X miles on restaurants (including takeout and delivery), gas stations and eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1X miles on all other purchases
$99 (waived first year) 50,000 miles after spending $2,500 within three months of account opening.

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), 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can opt to convert your earnings into Chase Ultimate Rewards points—a very 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 Southwest to make use of the points—plus the possible Companion Pass or 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.

Pros

  • Great perks for frequent Southwest flyers such as upgraded boarding, an annual travel credit, inflight savings and more.
  • A generous anniversary bonus
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to premium travel and purchase protections

Cons

  • Higher annual fee than other airline cards not waived in the first year
  • Applicants for Southwest credit card credit score must be good to excellent
  • Limited to earning Rapid Rewards points that are best used when redeemed for Southwest flights

All information about the Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite® Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.