April 20, 2024

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Taste For Business

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card Review

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most premium version of the personal Southwest cobranded credit cards. This card was designed for travelers who fly with the airline on a regular basis and for those who can take advantage of the many perks offered.

With benefits like a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 7,500 annual anniversary points, four Upgraded Boardings each year, travel insurance, no foreign transaction fees and broad spending categories — this card is a great fit for an avid Southwest flyer.

Below, Select breaks down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card to help you decide if it’s right for your needs.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card review

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • Rewards

    Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases, 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare; 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn Companion Pass® through 2/28/23 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 22.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

Pros

  • Southwest upgraded boarding on up to 4 tickets per year
  • 7,500 bonus points on each account anniversary
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 4 upgraded boardings per year when available

Cons

  • $149 annual fee
  • No special financing offers
  • Estimated points earned after 1 year: 52,672
  • Estimated points earned after 5 years: 196,030

Rewards totals incorporate the miles earned from the welcome bonus

Welcome bonus

The welcome bonus for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a bit different than a simple chunk of airline miles. After signing up for the card you can earn the Southwest Companion Pass® through Feb. 28, 2023, plus 30,000 Rapid Rewards points by spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

This welcome bonus is great: not only will you have the highly-regarded Companion Pass but you’ll also earn a minimum of 35,000 Southwest points to use on a flight of your choosing. The Companion Pass allows you to bring along anyone of your choosing onto a Southwest flight for free, all you have to do is pay taxes and fees for your companion’s ticket (usually just $5.60 for a one-way domestic flight within the U.S.). Plus, as long as it’s active, there’s no limit on how many times you can use the Southwest Companion Pass.

Keep in mind that this bonus isn’t available to everyone. You can’t currently have a personal Southwest credit card and also must not have received a welcome bonus for a personal Southwest credit card in the last 24 months.

Benefits and perks

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers cardholders access to the following benefits:

  • 7,500 bonus points for each account anniversary
  • $75 Southwest travel credit per year
  • Four upgraded boardings per year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • You can earn 1,500 tier qualifying points towards Southwest A-List elite status for every $10,000 spent, with no limit on the amount of elite points you can earn.
  • DoorDash benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees when you use the card abroad

All points earned with the card count toward the highly-coveted Southwest Companion Pass®, which allows one person to fly with you for free (except for taxes and fees) when you buy or redeem points for flights after reaching the threshold of 125,000 qualifying points or 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year

Earning miles for spending

When you spend on the card, you’ll earn: 

  • 3X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases with Southwest Airlines
  • 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare services
  • 2X Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services
  • 1X Rapid Rewards point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases

Other benefits

Southwest Airlines is a favorite airline for many as you get to enjoy two free checked bags per person and no change fees on tickets. And all of the points you earn through flying or spending on a Southwest credit card will never expire.

And when you hold the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you’ll also receive these benefits at no charge:

  • Complimentary travel accident insurance and emergency assistance, reimbursement for lost luggage, auto rental collision damage waivers for car rentals, roadside dispatch service, purchase and extended warranty protection and baggage delay insurance
  • DoorDash benefits, including $0 delivery fees on restaurant orders above $12 (or groceries over $25), reduced service fees and $10 off your next order when you use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card after you activate your complimentary year of membership by Dec. 31, 2024.

Select calculated how many points the average American can earn in a year when using their Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). Here’s what the average consumer would earn using this card:

  • Groceries: 5,174 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • Gas: 2,218 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • Dining out: 3,675 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • Travel: 6,732 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (Assuming all travel dollars are spent with Southwest Airlines).
  • Utilities: 4,862 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  • General purchases: 3,953 Southwest Rapid Rewards points

With all spending considered, this would give a cardholder 26,614 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in the first year, and if you include the 30,000-point welcome bonus, this would yield 56,614 Rapid Rewards points. Over a five year period, cardholders could potentially earn 133,070 Southwest Rapid Rewards points — although the total amount will depend on an individual’s annual spending habits.

How to earn and redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards miles

Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Earning Southwest points is simple: either spend on one of the Southwest credit cards or fly with the airline.

However, it’s difficult to earn heaps of points since you can only earn one welcome bonus every two years with a personal co-branded Southwest credit card. And unless you fly multiple times per month with Southwest, earning hundreds of thousands of points may not be realistic through these avenues.

If you want to earn large amounts of points, consider earning rewards through credit cards with transferable rewards. Cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which can be transferred directly to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. These cards are some of the best travel credit cards because you have the flexibility to redeem your rewards in a variety of ways, including transferring them to Southwest.

If you’re thinking of adding a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card to your wallet but aren’t sure if the Southwest Priority card is right for you, consider another one of the airline’s co-branded personal or business credit cards:

Personal

Business

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Once you earn enough points for a free flight, then comes the fun part of booking award travel.

And while some airlines make it difficult to use their rewards programs, Southwest has a straightforward redemption process. To use your miles, simply log into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and when you search for a flight, click “points” rather than “dollars”. Southwest points have a fixed value of around 1.3 to 1.4 cents apiece and prices for award flights are dependent on the current cash price of the ticket. So if a flight costs $100 you can expect to pay 6,000 to 7,000 points for that flight.

As you search for flights, you’ll notice that you fill have to pay taxes and fees, depending on where you fly. If you’re flying within the United States, you will pay $5.60 for each one-way flight. International fees will vary.

And you don’t need to pay your taxes and fees with a Southwest credit card credit card, so feel free to use another card that you prefer.

Rates and fees

Card comparison

While the Southwest Priority credit card is a solid pick for Southwest flyers, how does it fare other value-packed rewards credit cards?

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great travel credit card as it earns a consistent 2X miles per dollar spent on all eligible purchases. And it has benefits including a valuable 60,000 bonus miles welcome offer once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

You’ll also receive up to $100 statement credit for your application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry every four years.

So if you’re deciding between the two cards, it comes down to a few factors:

  • Do you only fly Southwest? If so, the Southwest card may be the better option.
  • Do you prefer having spending categories or earning a flat-rate on all purchases? The Venture card has a flat-rate on all purchases, while the Southwest Card has different earnings for various category purchases.
  • Do you value transferable rewards more, or the Companion Pass?

Based on these questions, you should quickly know which one of the two is a better fit for you. But at a high level, if you travel with a companion regularly and mainly travel domestically, the Southwest card will likely be the better fit. If you travel on various airlines and prefer to go outside the U.S., the Capital One Venture card would probably be the better choice of the two.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card vs. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® is a great choice for someone who enjoys flying internationally, and possibly lives near an American Airlines hub airport like Miami, Phoenix or Los Angeles.

With this card, you’ll earn 2X miles for every $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations and on eligible American Airlines purchases. All other eligible purchases will earn 1X mile per dollar spent.

The welcome offer packs a punch as you can earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $2,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. In addition, there are no foreign transaction fees and a waived annual fee the first year ($99 after that).

When you’re comparing the two cards, it simply comes down to which airline loyalty program will serve your needs and if you value Southwest’s Companion Pass benefit. The American Airlines loyalty program is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, which has 14 total airlines that partner to serve one another’s customers. This means you can use American miles to fly around the world on over a dozen different airlines.

While Southwest isn’t part of an airline alliance, the card comes with an extremely valuable automatic benefit in the Companion Pass, giving you the ability to travel with someone for free, less taxes and fees.

Who the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is best for

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a solid airline credit card and designed for consumers who fly regularly with Southwest. And with the new welcome offer the card is targeted towards those flying with a companion.

But if you aren’t flying regularly with a companion to make the welcome offer ‘worth’ it, you may be better off selecting another card or waiting for a welcome bonus that is solely Southwest points.

The card has a hefty $149 annual fee but does offer ample benefits to Southwest flyers that can help offset the cost. For instance, just the annual $75 Southwest credit and anniversary 7,500 Southwest points alone can be worth more than $150. Plus, you’ll get four Upgraded Boardings every year and 25% back on Southwest inflight purchases. These perks are geared toward Southwest flyers but if you can use them, which shouldn’t be too hard if you fly Southwest a handful of times per year, then you’ll likely enjoy having the Southwest Priority card in your wallet.

Bottom line

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a great choice for someone who flies Southwest often.

The recently refreshed welcome bonus which includes the Companion Pass, as well as the benefits of earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points on all eligible purchases, a $75 Southwest annual credit and multiple Upgraded Boardings each year make the card worth considering. And now that the Companion Pass is obtainable by spending $5,000 in the first three months of card membership, it’s a great fit for someone who travels with a partner or friend often.

However, even though welcome offer is extremely appealing for avid travelers, it can be tempting to hastily spend the $5,000 needed to earn it. But as always, its never advised to apply for a credit card when you’re not in a solid financial situation. But as long as you follow your budget carefully and continue to invest for the future, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is worth considering for any avid Southwest flyer.

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Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.