Best overall Southwest card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
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Despite its higher fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card provides excellent rewards and perks for routine flyers and is the best pick among the airline’s three consumer cards. However, if Southwest isn’t your preferred airline or you don’t want a high-cost annual fee, a general travel card would likely provide greater value.
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The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is an ideal travel credit card for jet-setters who frequently book domestic flights, especially travelers 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.
Cardholders can earn rewards on both Southwest-related travel purchases and everyday expenses, including transit and monthly internet, cable, phone and streaming services.
It offers great perks for frequent Southwest flyers such as upgraded boarding, an annual travel credit, inflight savings and more.
It has a generous 7,500-point anniversary bonus, which is more than double what the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers.
It has no foreign transaction fees, making it ideal for international travelers.
Cardholders have access to premium travel and purchase protections.
The $149 annual fee may be hard to offset and is higher than several other airline cards’ yearly cost.
It 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.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is currently offering 50,000 points to cardholders who spend $1,000 in their first three months of opening their account.
That’s a solid offer, worth around $750 based on Bankrate’s latest estimated point redemption value of 1.5 cents per point. That said, it’s also a big step down from the card’s previous offer of 75,000 points after a $3,000 spend in the same timeframe (though the lower spending requirement may make it easier to reach for modest spenders).
Earning points with your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is incredibly easy, especially if you frequently fly 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.
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 head start with the Priority card’s bonus of 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 (135,000 points beginning in 2023), you can score the Companion Pass. This pass will allow you to bring a companion on all of your flights for free (minus taxes and fees) for all of the year that you earn it plus the entire next year.
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.
You can also redeem points 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.
With Rapid Rewards points weighing in around Bankrate’s estimated 1.5 cents per point value, the 7,500-point anniversary bonus could be worth up to $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.
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.
You’ll be eligible for a variety of travel savings, including:
By using your card, you receive several protection benefits as a Visa cardholder, including:
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.
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 Bankrate’s 1.5 cent point value). However, earning and maximizing the anniversary bonus or Companion Pass could nearly (or more than) offset the annual fee.
If you carry a balance month-to-month, the interest rate is between 20.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable APR.
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You might consider the lower-cost Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card if you’re not as concerned about the Priority card’s bonus features, as it offers the same rewards rate, sign-up bonus, and TQP earning option.
There are still many great benefits to the Southwest Rapid Reward card, including 6,000 bonus points per year and 3X points for every $1 spent on Southwest. However, its anniversary bonus is lower than the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card which offers 7,500 bonus points per year. In addition, this card does not offer a $75 Southwest travel credit every year, which can help offset its annual fee.
The Premier card would be an excellent choice if you are a frequent Southwest flyer with no need for maximum rewards, while the Priority card would be the best choice if you are looking for more luxury airline benefits and a card that will add maximum value to your wallet.
It would be wise for travelers looking for a travel credit card with a flexible rewards program to opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, since it can allow them to earn rewards on a broader range of travel expenses as well as everyday spending like dining — all for a low $95 annual fee.
Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards® Card, you earn 5 points per dollar for travel, 3 points per dollar for dining, streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target, and wholesale clubs), 2 points per dollar for all other travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar for everything else. The card also includes travel protections like trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services, and primary rental car collision damage coverage.
While you can transfer points to any of Chase’s many airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 rate, including Southwest, you might prefer the Priority card if you are looking for airline-specific benefits, since the card offers loyalty perks you can’t get with a general travel card like the Sapphire Preferred.
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 2025), 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 use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from other expenses like non-Southwest travel to book flights with other airlines, hotel stays and more. In fact, you can even transfer these points to your Southwest rewards account if you’d like.
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 qualified for the Companion Pass, frequent flyers should have no trouble raking in massive value for the comparatively low $149 annual fee.
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.
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