Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card Review

southwest rapid rewards priority credit card

There’s nothing quite as exciting as boarding a flight and knowing in a few short hours, you will land somewhere new. It’s even more exciting when you’ve snagged a great deal on that flight — something Southwest Airlines is known for. If you find yourself booking flights with this airline frequently, you may benefit from opening one of the airline’s credit cards. 

For the most rewards and perks, the top-tier card Southwest offers is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. The catch? You need to pay a $149 annual fee to access all those great cardholder benefits.

Quick Facts: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • Rewards rate: 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases; 2x points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental purchases; 2x points on local transit, rideshare, internet, cable, phone, and select streaming; 1x points on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $149

. . .

Overview of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

If you fly Southwest a lot, then you may find splurging on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card’s annual fee to be worth it. Out of all the Southwest Airlines credit card options, this card has the highest annual fee, at $149. To make the most of that steep fee, you have to commit to flying Southwest often. This is especially true since this card lacks the broad travel benefits that other travel credit cards offer, like credits for TSA PreCheck enrollment or swanky airport lounge access.

All that being said, if you are loyal to Southwest, you can earn points rapidly with this credit card thanks to the chance to earn 3 points for every $1 spent booking with this airline. Moreover, you can also get 25% back on in-flight purchases. Additionally, your everyday purchases count for something, too — 1 point for every $1 spent.

Pros

  • Often comes with Welcome Offer
  • Solid anniversary perk of 7,500 points
  • No rewards caps

Cons

  • High annual fee of $149
  • Airline rewards limited to Southwest bookings
  • Limited redemption options

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Welcome Offer

Currently, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is offering new card holders 50,000 if they spend $1,000 on purchases with the card in the first three months from opening their account – this is the same offer on all Southwest’s card options.

It’s common for credit cards to have welcome offers that include a bonus if you spend a certain amount in the first few months, but the spending goal can sometimes be on the high side. However, $1,000 in three months can be pretty easy to hit depending on how you plan to use the card, making this a more lucrative welcome offer.

Earning Rewards

The neat thing about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is you have a lot of options for how you can earn rewards. 

To start, you earn 7,500 points each year on your cardmember anniversary without having to spend any money at all. When it comes to spending, your best bet is to use this credit card to purchase Southwest Airlines tickets — when you do, you earn 3 points for every $1. Additionally, you can also earn rewards on hotel and rental car bookings (2 points for every $1) as long as you book with Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.

Even when you aren’t traveling, you have opportunities to earn rewards. For instance, you can earn 2 points for every $1 spent on local transit and commuting (this includes rideshare services). Additionally, cable, internet, and phone services, as well as select streaming subscriptions, also qualify for 2 points per $1. Lastly, you’ll earn 1 point for every $1 spent on everyday purchases.

Redeeming Rewards

While the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has a lot of redemption options, those options are quite limiting. For example, you can redeem points for hotel and flight bookings, but you can only book domestic flights with Southwest Airlines, which serves 121 locations across the U.S.  

You can also redeem points for event bookings, merchandise purchases, and gift cards, but again, these all come with limitations. Namely, lower redemption values, meaning you’re not getting the best bang for your buck with these options.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Card Benefits

The cardholder benefits that come with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card are beneficial if you find yourself frequently booking flights with Southwest Airlines. On the flip side, if you don’t fly with this airline often, you won’t get much out of this card. 

Firstly, you can enjoy upgraded boardings four times a year (when available). Once you’re in the air, you get 25% back on inflight purchases. You also get a $75 annual travel credit and a points boost each year of 10,000 Companion Pass® qualifying points.

Woman smiling with travel bag and passport on airport. Guides to understanding Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card.

Who Should Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is only a good fit for those who fly with Southwest Airlines frequently. Even if you love this airline, it needs to have enough routes flying in and out of your local airport and you need to travel often enough to balance the cost of the annual fee with perks and rewards. A $149 annual fee is nothing to scoff at, but it can be worth it if you are a frequent Southwest Airlines flier. 

Before you apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, take a good look at your upcoming travel plans for the year. Research how much you are likely to spend on potential flights with Southwest Airlines and then crunch the numbers on how many rewards points you will earn for booking with this airline, to see if you’ll earn more than $149 worth of points.

Who Shouldn’t Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card?

If you love to travel, but don’t hold any allegiance to Southwest Airlines, you may find that a more flexible travel rewards credit card (one that isn’t linked to a single specific airline or hotel chain) is a better fit for your needs. Even if you do fly Southwest often, there are other Southwest credit cards with smaller annual fees that may get the job done.

For those who don’t travel often, a more general-purpose card, like a cash-back card that rewards everyday spending, will deliver more value. 

Alternatives to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Here’s how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority and other cards compare:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

southwest rapid rewards plus credit card

If you do fly Southwest Airlines frequently but want to avoid that high annual fee, you may find the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card better for your budget. The annual fee with this card is just $69, which is much lower than the Priority card’s $149 fee.

In exchange for a smaller annual fee, you don’t get as many of the perks. Same welcome bonus, but with lower reward rates and a smaller annual gift (3,000 points vs. 7,500).

Also note that this card charges foreign transaction fees, which the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card does not. International jetsetters should be careful when using this credit card to make purchases abroad. 

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card or read our full review.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

southwest rapid rewards premier credit card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card differs significantly is the annual fee ($99) and the anniversary perk (6,000 points). Both cards offer a 3 points per $1 spent reward rate for Southwest Airlines bookings.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

chase sapphire preferred

Even if you enjoy flying Southwest Airlines, choosing to pay an annual fee for a credit card that only rewards booking with that specific airline can be limiting. If you want more flexibility, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

With this credit card, you can transfer any rewards points you earn to a handful of different airline and hotel partners — including Southwest Airlines. 

The annual fee of $95 isn’t cheap, but it’s lower than the fee for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. In exchange for that $95, you earn 5 points per $1 spent on hotel bookings and car rentals through Chase Travel℠, 3 points per $1 spent on dining, and 2 points per $1 spent on all other travel purchases. This card also gives you an annual $50 Chase Travel℠ hotel credit.

For the welcome bonus, you can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or read our full review.

Final Thoughts

If you're a loyal Southwest customer, the Rapid Rewards® Priority card can earn you hefty rewards on your Southwest purchases, including on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental purchases. You also get perks like upgraded boarding four times a year, 25% back on inflight purchases, and a $75 annual travel credit.

The annual fee is a bit high, but if you find yourself frequently flying the skies with Southwest, it could balance out. Figure out how many flights you anticipate taking with Southwest in the near future, then see if the benefits are worth more than the fee.

Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

. . .


Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.