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For budget-conscious travelers who are Southwest Airlines loyalists, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could be a good choice, offering valuable rewards and benefits.
This card offers 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest flights and bookings through hotel and car rental partners, in addition to the 1X point per $1 you’ll earn on all other purchases. If you value those miles at 1.5 cents each, which is about average, you’d be getting a cash back equivalent of 3%.
There’s also an introductory offer where you can earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases during your first 3 months as a cardholder.
Cardholders will get benefits like a $75 annual travel credit for use on future trips, four upgraded boardings per year, when available, and 7,500 bonus points each year on your anniversary of opening the card.
The Rapid Rewards Priority Card has many extra benefits, including the ability to redeem bonus points for airfare, gift cards, car rentals, cruises, and hotel stays. However, it might be an expensive option for some due to its $149 annual fee. Whether or not it’s the right card for you will depend on your spending and travel habits, as well as your relationship to Southwest Airlines.
There are four co-branded Southwest credit cards, including one business card.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||$69||
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (Review)||$99||
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (This review)||$149||
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||$99||
Keep reading to learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card and find out if it should be your new go-to travel rewards card.
Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
We give the Rapid Rewards Priority Card 5 out of 5 Stars because it can provide cardholders with valuable travel perks and airline bonus points.
Why We Like It
- 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest flights, hotel and car rental partners
- 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- 7,500 anniversary bonus points
- 20% cash back on in-flight purchases
- Redeem points for flights, hotel stays, or gift cards
- No expiration date on reward points
- No travel blackout dates
- No foreign transaction fees
Why It Could Be Better
- Somewhat high annual fee of $149
- Limited travel benefits
- No 0% APR promotional offers for purchases or balance transfers
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is a good option for those who regularly fly Southwest Airlines. But if you want to earn rewards with other airlines, or that can redeemed by multiple carriers, check out some alternatives below.
Insider Advice: Using This Card As Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Compare with other travel credit cards: This card offers benefits that make sense for Southwest travelers. If you prefer to use different airlines or only fly Southwest occasionally, another travel card might make more sense for you.
- Book travel through Southwest: Book your flights, hotel stays, and car rentals through Southwest and Southwest’s partners to earn 2X points per $1 spent.
- Take advantage of the introductory bonus: Charge $1,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card to earn 40,000 bonus points.
- Enjoy your anniversary bonus: You’ll receive 7,500 bonus points every year on your cardmember anniversary.
- Redeem your rewards: The best redemption values come from redeeming your rewards for flights, so save your points for air travel.
- Take advantage of your flight credits: Each year, you’ll get a $75 airline credit to use for future Southwest flights.
- Indulge in-flight: Treat yourself to drinks, snacks, or WiFi on Southwest flights and get 20% cash back.
- Don’t pay extra when traveling: The Rapid Rewards Priority Card has no foreign transaction fees, a great perk when traveling internationally.
- Offset the annual fee: You can completely offset the $149 annual fee by using the yearly $75 credit and 7,500 bonus points. Those can give you a total value of at least $150 — perhaps quite a bit more.
This card can earn the equivalent of about 1% to 4% cash back on purchases with the normal redemption methods, depending on how you earn and redeem the points. And you may find a better value than that if you get a great point redemption.
|Introductory Bonus Offers|
Points are typically worth about 1 cent each, on average. But if you redeem them through Southwest Airlines or Southwest’s partners, those points can be worth as much as 1.5 cents or more. That means you could earn the equivalent of 3% cash back in the 2X categories, and 1.5% cash back for other purchases.
If you get a value of 2 cents per point you’d be earning a 4% cash back equivalent at Southwest, with 2% back everywhere else. You can rack up points quickly by booking your travel primarily through Southwest and its partners.
The card also boasts an impressive signup bonus with a fairly low spending requirement; you’ll get 40,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of your account opening.
You could earn that 40,000 bonus quickly by using the card for routine expenses. Those bonus points could be worth $600 if you get a value of 1.5 cents per point.
However, other purchases — such as gas, groceries, or anything from retail stores — will only get you 1X point per $1 spent. Other rewards credit cards offer more cash back for that kind of spending, so if that’s a priority you might want to look for another card to supplement this one.
Membership points don’t expire and there are no blackout dates, so you don’t have to worry about your points disappearing.
There are several different ways to redeem your points.
- Book flights, hotel stays, or car rentals
- For merchandise like electronics, jewelry, or other items
- For gift cards from over 70 different retailers
Points are generally worth 1 to 2 cents each. So if you were to redeem your 40,000 bonus points you could take home a $400 gift card, at the low end.
However, how you redeem your points can affect their value and can make them worth even more. For example, a Wanna Get Away fare from Orlando to Philadelphia is 9,998 points, or $152 when paid for normally.
That means each point is worth about 1.5 cents when redeemed. For Anytime or Business Select fares – where the cost can easily be $500 or more – the cost worked out to about 1.5 cents a point, too.
That’s a good deal for budget travelers, though how much your points are worth is dependent on your travel dates, destination, and ticket fare class.
We recommend looking for flight redemptions to get the best value for your points. If you’re not going to get at least 1.5 cents per point, it probably makes sense to wait to use your points until you find a better deal.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
While there are other travel reward cards that don’t charge an annual fee, it’s pretty easy to recoup the value of the $149 fee charged by the Rapid Rewards Priority Card. The cost shouldn’t hold you back from applying for the card if the other rewards and benefits are a good fit.
Each year you’ll receive a $75 Southwest flight credit. That brings the effective annual fee down, so you’ll only need to offset $74 per year to make the card a worthwhile investment.
Not only that, you’ll also get 7,500 bonus points each year. Even if you value those at the low end of 1 cent per point, that will provide $75 in value all on its own — or as much as $150 if you get 2 cents per point.
Those two benefits — the $75 credit and 7,500 bonus points — can serve to completely offset the $149 annual fee, providing a total value of $150 if you redeem at 1 cent per point. And if you redeem at a better rate you’ll profit even more.
Ta da! This card can pay for itself!
Whereas most cards require some yearly spending to make them worthwhile, the Rapid Rewards Priority card provides an exceptional value from these two benefits alone. Any spending rewards you earn or other benefits you use will be a bonus.
Most of the value you get from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is from the benefits, rather than the travel rewards. Depending on which benefits you use, you can easily get several hundreds of dollars of value, offsetting the annual fee.
Some of the biggest highlights are the $75 credit and 7,500 bonus points, along with upgraded boarding positions and the ability to earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs). That’s on top of more typical travel benefits, like lost luggage reimbursement and baggage delay insurance.
This card is available at either the Visa Platinum or Visa Signature level. If you’re approved for a credit limit of $5,000 or more, you’ll get the Visa Signature card. Otherwise, you’ll get the Visa Platinum card. Visa Signature cardholders get slightly better versions of some of these perks, along with access to one additional benefit — Travel and Emergency Assistance.
$75 Annual Southwest Travel Credit
Receive a $75 annual travel credit to use to book your flights, Rapid Rewards hotel stays, or car rentals each year. The credit applies to Southwest ticket purchases, but upgraded boardings and in-flight purchases are ineligible.
7,500 Anniversary Points
Every year you’ll receive 7,500 bonus points. You can redeem those Rapid Rewards points for flights, at Rapid Rewards hotel partners, for gift cards, and other options. At a value of 1–2 cents per point, those bonus points would be worth $75–$150.
Tier Qualifying Points
Travelers with Southwest A-list status get priority boarding, priority check-in and security lane access, access to a dedicated customer support line, free same-day standby flights, and a 25% earning bonus on flights. To get on the A-list, you need to fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) in a calendar year.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card helps you reach the A-List faster. You’ll earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend, up to $100,000 per year. That means you can earn as many as 15,000 TQPs by using the card.
Upgraded Boarding Position
If you frequently travel via Southwest, you know how important checking in early is to score a decent boarding position and room for your carry-on luggage.
With the Rapid Rewards Priority Card, you can skip the scramble and get one of the coveted A1 through A15 seats. Each anniversary year, you will be reimbursed for up to four Upgraded Boardings for A1 through A15 seats. The price of an Upgraded Boarding varies depending on your flight, but frequently costs between $30 and $50.
Three or four free Upgraded Boardings – which may cost $120 to $200 – could offset the annual fee, making it a very useful perk that can help you save money.
20% Cash Back on In-Flight Purchases
No Blackout Dates or Restrictions
There are no blackout dates or restrictions on award flights, so you don’t have to worry about coordinating your travel dates around the holidays.
- Purchase Protection: When you make an eligible purchase using the card, you’ll receive protection for up to 120 days against theft and damage up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account.
- Extended Warranty Protection: Eligible manufacturers’ warranties can be extended by up to one year.
- Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: If you rent an eligible vehicle and decline the rental company’s insurance, you can get coverage against theft and collisions.
- Roadside Dispatch: If you’re stranded on the side of the road due to a flat tire or dead battery, you can get 24/7 help with roadside emergencies like these. Third-party fees will apply.
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement: If you or an immediate family member have a checked or carry-on bag that is lost or damaged by the airline, you’re typically covered by up to $3,000.
- Baggage Delay Insurance: In most cases, if your checked bag is delayed by six hours or more, you’ll be reimbursed for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing, up to $100 a day for three days.
- Travel Accident Insurance: You can get up to $250,000 in accidental death or dismemberment coverage when you use your card to book travel with a common carrier.
- Travel and Emergency Assistance: Visa Signature cardholders can get help with emergencies, such as legal or medical referrals.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|18.24%–25.24% Variable||18.24%–25.24% Variable||27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$149||None||5%, $5 minimum||5%, $10 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|None||Up to $39||Up to $39|
The fees on the the Rapid Rewards Priority Card are straightforward. There is no intro APR offer, so any purchases you make will start accruing interest at the rate above unless you pay off the statement balance in full each month. There is no benefit to doing a balance transfer since there isn’t a promotional low-interest offer.
There is an annual fee of $149. As discussed above, you can offset that amount simply by using two of the yearly benefits: the $75 credit and 7,500 bonus points. There are no foreign transaction fees, making it a good option for those who travel internationally.
What Is the Credit Limit of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card?
There are two versions of the card. The card you’ll get is determined by your credit limit when approved, which is dependent on your credit scores and overall creditworthiness, including income.
- Visa Signature card: At least $5,000
- Visa Platinum card: At least $2,000
After having the card for some time and showing yourself to be a responsible user, you can request a credit limit increase from Chase.
|Chase Customer Support|
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is issued by Chase. According to the most recent J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Chase is 4th out of 11 issuers in 2018.
Chase scores above average in the key moments category; “key moments” is defined as when customers apply for a card, need a replacement card, or have to report fraudulent activity. Chase is noted for its responsiveness in those situations.
|Chase Twitter Support||@ChaseSupport|
|Southwest Twitter Support||@SouthwestAir|
If you have questions about your Southwest credit card, you can reach customer support by tweeting @ChaseSupport or @SouthwestAir. Although Twitter can be a useful tool to get a quick response, make sure you don’t use personal information in public social media posts.
Hey, Kat! That would be a question best directed to our friends at Chase! To speak with a specialist, please call 1-800-792-0001. -Adrienne
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 30, 2018
We tweeted to Southwest’s customer service with a question about the availability of the introductory bonus offer to cardholders of other Southwest cards, and they got back to us very quickly — within just a few minutes. However, we were only dealing with Southwest’s customer service — not Chase’s — and Southwest directed us to Chase, so resolving your issue might take longer.
The Bottom Line
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Priority Card might be a smart choice for Southwest Airlines devotees. If you do most of your travel with the no-frills carrier, you’re likely to get a lot of value out of the card.
With a valuable introductory bonus of 40,000 points for spending just $1,000 in the first 3 months — which could be worth $400–$800 in value — you might be able to book a full round-trip using just your bonus points, offsetting the cost of the $149 annual fee. Plus, the annual anniversary bonus of 7,500 points and the ability to upgrade your boarding position add additional value.
Between the $75 travel credit and 7,500 bonus points, the annual fee is complete offset, making the card basically free to use. That’s an excellent deal that Southwest fliers should be aware of.
However, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is not for everyone. For business travelers or for those used to travel benefits with other cards, the Southwest Priority Card’s benefits might feel anemic. You don’t get any luxury perks, like airport lounge access, which might make other cards a better alternative for you.
How to Apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
You can apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card securely on the Chase website.
Once you submit, you’ll usually receive a decision from Chase within minutes. In some cases, it could take longer. For example if they need additional information or verification of income, it might take a few days or even longer.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply (19 in Alabama, Nebraska, and 21 in Puerto Rico)
- Personal identifying information, including birth date, Social Security number, email address, and phone number
- Total annual income and source of income
- Monthly mortgage/rent payment
- Rapid Rewards account number, if available
Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
There are a number of fantastic travel rewards credit cards out there, and not all of them are limited to one airline. And, if you’re looking for more travel benefits, there are cards available with more bells and whistles than the Southwest Priority Card to help make your next trip more comfortable.
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express: 2X miles per $1 spent directly through Delta, and earn 40,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
- Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: 2X AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and earn a 75,000-mile signup bonus.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (Review): 2X points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and earn 60,000 bonus points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review): 5X points per $1 spent on select travel transactions and a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.
If you’re looking for an airline card that offers luxury travel benefits, check out the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express. With a $450 annual fee, it’s an expensive card, but the benefits include valuable airport lounge access and an annual companion certificate.
|Introductory BONUS OFFER|
You can earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on purchases made directly through Delta, and 1X mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. You can redeem those points with Delta and with over 15 other airline partners, giving you more flexibility in your travel arrangements.
Points can be valued at the low end of 1 cent each, or they could be worth 1.5 cents or more. At 1.5 cents each you’d get a cash back equivalent of 3% for Delta purchases, which is about the standard for airline cards.
With the Delta Reserve Credit Card, you get more luxury travel benefits than you do with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card. The highlights of those benefits are complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club airport lounge and a discounted rate of $29 for up to two guests.
- Delta Sky Club membership: Complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs, with up to two guests at $29 each.
- Annual Companion Certificate: A certificate for a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+, or Main Cabin round-trip flight.
- Miles Boost tier 1: Spend $30,000 on purchases in a given year to earn 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs.
- Miles Boost tier 2: Spend $60,000 on purchases in a given year to earn an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs.
- First checked bag free on Delta flights: For you and up to eight traveling companions.
- Priority Boarding on Delta flights: Get on the plane more quickly with Zone 1 priority boarding.
- Priority Checkpoint on Delta flights: Access the Sky Priority security lane at participating airports.
- 20% in-flight discount on Delta flights: A 20% discount on eligible in-flight purchases, like food, beverages, movies, and audio headsets.
Terms & Fees
The card has an annual fee of $450. There are no foreign transaction fees.
If you’re looking for a card that makes an impact, the metal Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® could be for you. Boasting an enormous signup bonus of 75,000 miles, the card also offers generous spending rewards and benefits.
|Introductory BONUS OFFER|
You can earn 2X AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, a pretty standard rate among airline credit cards.
That’s on top of the special introductory offer, where you can get 75,000 points for spending $7,500 within the first 3 months. This requirement is pretty high compared to most cards, so you may want to look into some methods for reaching minimum spend requirements.
If you’re getting 1.5 cents per point, a fairly good redemption value, that would give you a cash back equivalent of 3% for AA purchases.
The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers luxury travel perks like a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee credit, a big benefit for frequent travelers looking to cut down on the amount of time they wait in the security line. But the Admirals Club membership, and all the authorized users you can add, might be the most appealing.
- Admirals Club membership: You and up to ten authorized users have access to the Admirals Club airport lounge.
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application credit: Get a credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85) once every five years.
- Elite Qualifying Miles: Earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 on purchases in a given year.
- Reduced Mileage Awards: Get discounted travel for round trip (7,500 miles off) and one-way flights (3,750 miles off).
- Enhanced Airport Experience: Including priority check-in, screening, and boarding privileges.
- 25% discount on in-flight purchases on AA flights: The 25% discount will be applied to in-flight purchases of food and beverages only.
- First checked bag free on AA flights: For you and up to eight traveling companions.
Terms & Fees
The Citi / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard does have a high annual fee of $450. There are no foreign transaction fees.
If you like to switch between airlines, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (Review) might be a better choice for you. You’ll earn a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening the card, with a cash value equal to $750 when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
|Introductory BONUS OFFER|
Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are generally worth 1 cent each. But if you redeem for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get 1.25 cents per point.
That would give you a cash back equivalent of 2.5% for travel and dining, with 1.25% everywhere else. Those 60,000 bonus points would be worth $750 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Or, if you transfer your points to an airline or hotel program (a favorite strategy for Sapphire cardholders) you could get as much as 2 cents per point or more. That’d give you a cash back equivalent of 4% for travel and dining, and those 60,000 bonus points would be worth $1,200.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with some nice benefits, including the chance to earn more points through a referral program.
- 1:1 point transfer: 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs at full value – that means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points.
- 10,000-point referral bonus: You’ll receive a 10,000-point bonus for every person you refer who applies and is approved. That’s $125 per friend, when redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Book through this program to get perks like daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, room upgrades, early check-in or late check-out, and a unique gift.
- Shop Through Chase: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers with the Shop Through Chase marketplace.
- Chase Preferred Experiences: As a Sapphire Preferred cardholder you’ll have access to exclusive events and experiences provided by Chase.
- Visa Signature Concierge: You can call 1-800-953-7392 to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge, any time, day or night.
- Travel and shopping protections: Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Purchase Protection and more.
- Dedicated customer service specialists: Get 24/7 access to a dedicated customer service line. Just call the number on the back of your card.
Terms & Fees
The Sapphire Preferred card has a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
A metal card with a high annual fee, the The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is for frequent travelers. It offers unique perks and benefits. However, unlike the other cards on this list it’s a charge card, which means you must pay off the balance in full every billing period.
|Introductory BONUS OFFER|
Depending on the spending category and how you redeem, you can earn a cash back equivalent up to 10%. That assumes you’re spending in the 5X category and redeeming for 2 cents per point, using point transfers to travel partners.
Other spending and redemption rates will provide a lesser value. To maximize your points try waiting until you’ll get a rate greater than 1.5 cents each.
The Platinum Card by American Express’ real value is in its benefits rather than its rewards. You can score the best airport lounge access available on any credit card, access to the Fine Hotels & Restaurants Collection, and annual travel credits.
- Airport lounge access: Global Lounge Collection (includes a wide variety of lounge brands).
- Annual airline fee credit: $200 Airline Fee Credit for incidental fees at one airline of your choice every year. Terms apply.
- Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓: Receive up to $100 as a statement credit to pay for the application fee for one of these programs.
- Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: You’ll get room upgrades when available, daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, and more.
- The Hotel Collection: $75 hotel credit for every eligible two-night stay.
- Hilton HHonors Gold Status: Stay at hotels within the Hilton portfolio and get benefits like room upgrades, your 5th night free, and an 80% bonus on Hilton HHonors Base Points you earn.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status: Receive perks like room upgrades, late checkout, and bonus Starpoints.
- $200 in Uber credits each year: Get a statement credit for up to $15 in Uber rides each month, except for December, which has a $35 credit.
- $100 Annual Saks credit: Get statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue every year: up to $50 from January to June, and up to $50 from July to December.
- Platinum Dining Program: Secure coveted reservations by calling your concierge service and selecting “Dining” from the menu.
- Boingo WiFi Access: Get complimentary access to unlimited WiFi at more than a million Boingo hotspots worldwide.
- Amex Offers: Receive discounts from dozens of participating merchants.
Terms & Fees
You’ll have to pay $550 each year to use the Platinum Card by American Express. There are no foreign transaction fees.
You don’t have to worry about interest since it’s a charge card, but failing to pay off the balance in full every billing period can result in a late fee of $38.
Read more in our Review of the Platinum Card from American Express.
Do you use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card for travel? Let us know how you like it by leaving your own review!
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