Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular domestic airlines in the United States. They also have several co-branded credit cards with Chase because of such popularity. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card is one of three mid-tier cards that the airline offers. But it has the highest annual fee and the most perks of the set.
Southwest Airlines’ top personal card has a $149 annual fee (NOT waived the first year), a nice sign-up bonus, and some great perks.
The Southwest Priority Card is not the best earner. Like the Chase Southwest Premier Card, the Priority Card earns 2x Rapid Rewards points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases as well as Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. It also earns one point per dollar on non-bonus spend. I wish Chase and Southwest would add at least another bonus category (preferably Grocery Stores) to make this card an even better earner.
The Southwest Priority Card also comes with a sign-up bonus worth 40,000 Rapid Rewards points. All you have to do is spend $1,000 within the first three months. 40,000 Rapid Rewards points is enough to get you on the way to the elusive Southwest Companion Pass. The pass can be earned with 110,000 points
Furthermore, the Southwest Priority Card comes with an anniversary bonus worth 7,500 points. This bonus when you pay the annual fee. It can also be enough points to justify at least half of the fee, depending on how you value them. 7,500 is also the best anniversary bonus of any personal Southwest card. For comparison, the Premier Card comes with a bonus worth 6,000 points.
This is the most valuable and easy way to redeem Rapid Rewards points. Southwest does not publish an award chart online. Instead, you must go to their website and enter the dates you would like to travel. They will then show a list of flights and how much they cost in points and cash.
Wanna Get Away fares are the least expensive of the bunch while Business Select tickets are the most expensive. However, the cost of your award ticket is tied to the cash price of the flight. That means there is no need to worry about getting the highest possible redemption value.
Southwest lets you redeem Rapid Rewards points in other ways too. Merchandise, gift cards, and hotel stays are some of the other ways to redeem points. Your mileage may vary here as these options will often net you less than 1 CPP in value.
Southwest also gives you the option to redeem points for hotels, car rentals, or experiences. However, any of these options will provide you at most 1 CPP in value. I would rather pay cash or use another type of points to redeem for such expenses.
Co-branded cards commonly come with benefits that will make traveling easier. The Southwest Priority Card is no exception as it comes some nice perks. However, the card does not come with any luxury perks such as lounge access. That’s because Southwest is a low-cost carrier.
Annual Travel Credit
Southwest will give you a $75 travel credit every year you have the Priority Card. This credit is enough to justify about half of the card’s annual fee. That means you can justify the entire fee if you combine this credit with the anniversary bonus (assuming a points valuation of at least 1 CPP).
You will also receive four Upgraded Boardings each year you have the card. These Boardings are passes that let you upgrade to a better seat for no additional cost.
Upgraded Boardings may be purchased at the departure gate or ticket counter on the day you travel. The price (and value) of the Boardings depends on your itinerary.
Free Checked Bags
Southwest will give you your first two checked bags for free from having the card. Just three checked bags per year will justify the card’s annual fee if you value a checked bag at $50.
Free Cancellation and Fare Changes
This benefit lets you cancel or alter your plane tickets for no additional cost. Many other airlines have cancellation or fare change fees and they charge people who need to cancel.
Furthermore, Southwest will give you back your points if you used points to book a flight and you need to cancel or change. This is nice because many airlines don’t do this either.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Save 3% with the Southwest Priority Card when you use it to travel outside the United States.
Check out one of the following cards if the Southwest Priority Card is not for you:
Chase Southwest Premier Card
The Southwest Premier Card is the “little sibling” to the Priority Card. It comes with the same sign-up bonus and redemption options as the Priority Card. But its earning structure does not include earning 2x points at Rapid Rewards car rental and hotel partners. Besides that, both cards have the same earning structure.
The Premier Card has a $99 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). And it comes with an anniversary bonus worth 6,000 Rapid Rewards points. Both cards come with the same benefits, except for the annual travel credit and boardings.
The Southwest Priority Card is the better option for Southwest loyalists, especially given the extra benefits. However, the Premier Card is better for those who don’t want to spend more than $100 in annual fees.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is more flexible than the Southwest Priority Card and it’s a better option for most travelers. This is because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points that can be transferred to Southwest.
The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x UR points on Travel and Dining, including Southwest flights and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. It also earns just one point for non-bonus spend. This earning structure is similar to that of the Southwest Priority Card. However, the 2x categories are not limited to Southwest flights. And the Sapphire Preferred has more redemption options, including transferring points to partners.
The Sapphire Preferred also comes with a $95 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) and a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 UR points. This bonus can be obtained by spending $4,000 within the first three months. It also comes with a slew of benefits and travel insurances that the Southwest Priority Card does not come with.
American Express Green Card
The American Express Green Card is another alternative to the Priority Card. It comes with a $150 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) and a sign-up bonus worth 30,000 MR points. You can earn this bonus by spending $2,000 within the first three months.
This card earns 3x Membership Rewards (MR) points on Travel and Dining, including Southwest flights and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners. It also earns just one point for non-bonus spend. This earning structure is better than that of the Southwest Priority Card. The bonus categories are not limited to Southwest (and partner) purchases and the multipliers are higher. Plus, the Green Card has more redemption options, including transferring points to Amex’s partners.
Furthermore, the Green Card has different benefits that the Priority Card does. The former comes with over CLEAR and Lounge Buddy credits, but no general travel or airline-related credits.
The Green Card is the better card for those who are not loyal to Southwest. This is especially true because Southwest is not a transfer partner with American Express. On the contrary, the Priority Card is better for domestic travelers who like to fly on Southwest Airlines.
The Southwest Priority Card is a great card for Southwest loyalists and many domestic travelers. It serves a unique purpose for Southwest loyalists in saving them money on free checked bags and incidentals. The card can also be a way to obtain the elusive Southwest Companion Pass.
However, it’s a terrible card for everyday spend and it should not be used for such. The Priority Card’s strengths are its sign-up bonus, anniversary bonus, and perks. Those factors could be more than enough to justify the card’s $149 annual fee and possibly make it a long-term keeper card for some.
Apply Today: Chase Southwest Priority Card