Home Credit Cards Credit Card Review: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

Credit Card Review: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

by joeheg

It’s been more than a year since the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card was introduced. Southwest already had two personal cards, the Plus and the Premier, and the Priority card was positioned to be the “premium” card of the three.

If you decide that you want to sign up for the Southwest Priority card, or any of the Southwest credit cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our link. We receive Southwest points for each referral, and that helps us keep Your Mileage May Vary HQ going strong.

Let’s take a closer look at what the Southwest card has to offer to new cardholders and if it makes sense to hold onto the card for the long term.

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Annual Fee

$149 Annual Fee not waived the first year

Sign Up Bonus

The current sign-up bonus for the Southwest Priority card is 40,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.

Spending Categories

When spending on the card, you earn points in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program as follows:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 2 points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting including rideshare
  • 2 points per $1 spent on internet, cable, phone services and select streaming
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

I have to be honest, I’m a bit unclear about which purchases for hotels and rental cars will earn two points. Is it through any company that partners with Southwest, or do you have to book through Southwest? The documentation on this benefit is very vague at which expenses will qualify.

It’s nice to see Southwest bump the earning for its own purchases up to 3X. For most, the card’s value doesn’t lie in earning Rapid Rewards points. You can earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points on Southwest airfare with the Sapphire Reserve and 2x points with the Sapphire Preferred. Ultimate Rewards points can transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio, so there’s no benefit on spending on the card, even on Southwest. That’s unless you’re going for A-List status.

Card Benefits

Here’s where the Southwest Priority Card starts to shine

  • 7,500 anniversary points each year. Valuing Southwest points at 1.3 cents each, that’s a $97 value. But that’s like buying Southwest points, and I hate to purchase points. What else?
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit. OK, as long as you’re going to fly Southwest during the year, this is easy to spend. I found out that purchasing a Southwest gift card also triggers the credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available. I’ve written about how Priority Boarding is the way to get the best boarding spot on the plane and it costs $30 – $50 per flight. This benefit alone could be worth the annual fee of the card.
  • 25% back on In-flight WiFi and drinks. YMMV for what this is worth to you. It would depend on how much you fly on Southwest (and how much you drink when flying on Southwest – that’s if Southwest ever starts serving drinks again.)
  • Earn tier qualifying points – You’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases. TQPs can be used to count toward qualification for Rapid Rewards A-List or A-List Preferred status. A-List starts at 35,000 TQP. This benefit used to be capped but now there’s no limit on the TQPs you can earn.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Points earned with the card count towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass

Ways to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points

The points you earn with the signup bonus and spending on the card are deposited into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. From there, you can use the points to book flights on Southwest.

Southwest no longer sets a value for points, instead they say this about redemptions.

The number of points needed for a reward flight depends on the fare. Just like fares, reward pricing can vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare type, point redemption rate, and other factors and is subject to change at any time until the booking is confirmed

You can figure to get a value of around 1.3 cents per Southwest point. How much you’ll pay for a ticket is directly related to how much that ticket costs. The nice thing is that you’ll never have a blackout date from redeeming points on Southwest. Prices might be high, but you’ll always be able to use points as long as there’s a cash ticket available.

Final Thoughts

If you think the Southwest Priority card is right for you, we’d appreciate it if you use our link

When I signed up for this card. I was able to get a 60,000 point bonus, just a bit more than the first bonus from the current offer. For the $145 annual fee, I was able to get $160 in Priority Boarding fees refunded for the flights when I forgot to pay for Early Bird check-in, and I’ve already been reimbursed my $75 credit for Southwest tickets I purchased with the card. That’s $235 in credits for the $145 fee. Add in the $520 in points I’ll get from the signup bonus, and I’m at $755 back for paying $145, thank you very much.

I’ve had both of the other Southwest cards before and eventually canceled them because the only thing I received each year for the annual fee was some bonus points. With the Priority card, I get a $75 flight credit and four Priority Boarding reimbursements, which means I’ll be able to skip paying for early-bird and save the $80 in fees.

That’s saving $155, and I’m only paying $145, I’ll get better seats for both of us for two flights, and I’ll still get the 7,500 points which are worth $100. I wish every card would pay me $100 each year to keep it for another year. If only the AMEX Platinum had a value that was so easy to unlock, I might have kept it.

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