Perhaps more than any other U.S. airline, Southwest has fans — true enthusiasts who love its free checked bags, no-fee flight changes and no-assigned-seat policy. Not surprisingly, these travelers tend to live in and regularly fly to airports Southwest serves, so they end up traveling on this airline a lot.
For these frequent-flying Southwest enthusiasts, one credit card holds greater appeal than all the others: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card from Chase.
» Learn more: Southwest Priority Card review: Pay more, get more
The annual fee
This one probably isn't for sporadic Southwest travelers or half-hearted fans. The higher $149 annual fee weeds those folks right out. But the card rewards Southwest loyalists with a range of perks that more than offset that annual fee.
The welcome bonus
The sign-up bonus is the best perk: Earn Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
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The card offers a $75 annual travel credit. Every year, you’ll get reimbursed for up to $75 of purchases made directly with Southwest on the card.
Southwest’s no-assigned-seat policy is controversial. But everyone agrees it’s a lot more pleasant when you upgrade to a higher boarding group. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers four upgraded boardings every year. And the only thing better than being among the first to grab a seat is enjoying that privilege for free.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also makes it easier to earn A-List status with the airline. For every $10,000 charged to the card, you’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points, up to 15,000 points per year.
» Learn more: Benefits of Southwest Airlines credit cards
The Companion Pass
One of the most popular benefits of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program is the Companion Pass, which lets you choose a friend or loved one to fly with you for free, plus taxes and fees. Without a Southwest-branded credit card, the Companion Pass can be tough to earn: You have to either take 100 one-way flights or earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points to get the pass for the following year.
Not a lot of people can do that. But the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card puts this Companion Pass within reach — because the points you earn by using your credit card apply toward the points needed for a Companion Pass.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
In addition to all these elite benefits tailored to frequent Southwest travelers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers all the basic perks you’d expect. You’ll earn 2 Rapid Rewards points for every $1 spent with Southwest or the airline's hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
There are no foreign transaction fees, which is a must-have benefit for any traveler who makes purchases abroad. And if you use the card to buy drinks or Wi-Fi inflight, you’ll get a 20% discount. Together, these perks make the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card's $149 annual fee easier to justify.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best airline credit card for you Southwest Rapid Rewards program: The complete guide Which Southwest Airlines credit card should I get?