Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review

For anyone who is serious about travel rewards and who prefers to travel Southwest above other airlines, exclusive travel benefits are yours with a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

A winning combination of benefits has earned the Rapid Rewards® Priority card the prestigious title of “Best Co-branded Credit Card” from USA Today. With this card, you’ll enjoy upgraded boardings, numerous ways to accumulate points, and generous annual travel credits, along with other perks.

The issuer of the card, JPMorgan Chase & Co, is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and best known financial institutions, with a history that dates back more than 200 years. Chase serves millions of consumers and also works with small and large businesses and government clients.

The Essentials of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • APR: variable 17.49% – 24.49%
  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Primary feature: 2x points on all Southwest purchases and select hotel and rental car bookings, 1x point on all other purchases
  • Introductory bonus offer: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

What’s Interesting about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Prepare for travel adventures by booking flights, hotels, and car rentals. You’ll earn two points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines, Rapid Rewards® hotel bookings, and bookings with car rental partners. Cardholders earn one point per dollar on all other purchases.

There are also two annual rewards for cardholders. You get 7,500 anniversary points each year on your card anniversary and a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year. Cardholders can get four upgraded boardings per year when available. Inflight, you’ll get 20% back on drinks and wifi.

You also earn tier qualifying points towards “A-List” status. Reach 35,000 tier qualifying points or have 25 qualifying one-way revenue flights in a calendar year, and you’re on the A-List.
A-List members get:

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority check-in and security lane access
  • 25% more Rapid Rewards points earned on each flight
  • Free same-day standby
  • Dedicated A-List member phone line

Earn enough points from purchases or point redemptions, and you could qualify for a Companion Pass. This allows one person to fly with you free of airline charges (not including taxes and fees).

Even better, no foreign transaction fees are charged when this card is used outside the U.S., so start planning your global adventures now.

Things to Consider

Only frequent travelers will be able to fully utilize the card’s most attractive features. With an annual fee of $149, you’ll need to use the card quite a bit to make it worthwhile. The ability to pay off the balance each month is essential if you want to get the most benefit from this card.

Purchasing Southwest Airlines flights and partnering with its list of hotels and car rental suppliers offers you the most lucrative rewards. Other purchases will only earn you minimal points. Earning too few points for A-List status and the Companion Pass subtracts a lot of the value of the card.

How to Get the Most from this Card

Regular travel throughout the year will produce excellent returns with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. Significant planning ahead of time is the best strategy to ensure you qualify for the numerous generous perks available.

If possible, aim for the A-List status, which requires 35,000 tier qualifying points or 25 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. Reaching that level is going to earn you far more Rapid Rewards points on every flight, as well as the convenience of priority boarding and check-in. This level of points also brings you closer toward earning a Companion Pass.

Try to pay off the balance each month. Yes, the APR for this card is about average at the lower end, but quite steep at the high end if your credit rating is less than stellar.

The balance transfer APR is exactly the same as the regular APR, but be very wary of the cash advance APR of 26.49% variable, which is quite high. There are also transaction fees associated with balance transfers and cash advances.

Other Card Options that Might Interest You

Southwest has another travel rewards card called the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. With a lower annual fee of $99 and the same APR currently, it might fit your budget better than the Priority card.

The introductory offer is the same as the Priority card: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. There’s no $75 annual travel credit with this card. You’re also not eligible to take the four upgraded boardings the Priority card offers.

If you want a card with no annual fee and the ability to earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on any purchases, take a close look at the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card.

One major advantage of this card is the ability to book your trip how and where you want. You’re not limited to specific websites or airlines. But the introductory points are lower: 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

The Final Word

For frequent travelers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is practically a no-brainer. The higher-than-average introductory bonus points and two sizeable annual rewards are a significant financial benefit. Earning a Companion Pass is another serious money-saving perk, as it lets you bring a friend on your vacation.

And from a comfort, convenience, and time-saving standpoint, the opportunity to qualify for A-List status is guaranteed to make future travel even more enjoyable. You’ll even be able to forego those unwelcome foreign transaction fees during times you travel outside the U.S.

Stephen Altrogge

Personal Finance Contributor

Stephen Altrogge is a business and marketing writer from Ashland, Ohio. His writing has been published in Fast Company, Zapier, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and a host of other publications. He has a degree in Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Before launching his own business, he worked as an auditor at a bank.