How to Maximize the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus, anniversary bonus and referral bonus, as well as other benefits.
Meg LeeOct 19, 2021

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For true Southwest fans, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a value magnet, whether you fly them exclusively or only when a particularly good deal pops up on your radar.

The rewards on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card are pretty simple: You get 3 points per $1 spent on purchases made directly with Southwest Airlines, including:

  • Flights.

  • In-flight purchases.

  • Gift cards.

  • Southwest Airlines Vacations package purchases.

  • Purchases at participating Rapid Rewards Hotel and Rental Car Partners.

You'll also earn 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming services. Everything else? Earn 1 point per $1 spent.

Here’s how you can get the most out of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card for the moderate $149 annual fee.

How to get the most from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Get the sign-up bonus

Once you’re approved for the card, set your sights on the sign-up bonus: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points. Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

If your goal is to maximize the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, it’s essential that you prioritize spending on this card in the early days, especially if you have upcoming travel plans that could involve Southwest. Use your new card for those bookings to hit the minimum spending.

Use your $75 Southwest credit

Every year, you’ll get $75 back in the form of a statement credit for purchases made with Southwest. There’s nothing for you to do in advance — just make sure you put some direct Southwest spending on the card so you don’t miss out on this perk. Plus, you'll get 20% back on in-flight purchases of drinks and Wi-Fi that you charge to your card.

Plan for anniversary bonus miles

On your cardmember anniversary, you’ll earn 7,500 bonus points, which is often good enough for a one-way flight on many of Southwest’s cheaper domestic routes. While there are many ways to earn Southwest points, be sure to factor these into your trip planning.

Take advantage of upgraded boardings

Every Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card member is eligible for four upgraded boardings every calendar year (based on flight availability). The savings add up quickly since it can cost $30-$50 per flight to access those coveted early boarding positions. Don’t let this benefit go to waste, so plan which flights you might want to use it on.

Nerdy tip: Use your upgrades either on long flights or when you forget to check in on time and end up with a late B or C boarding group.

Stretch points by booking Wanna Get Away fares

Southwest flight award prices are based on the fare cost. This means that reward pricing can vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand and fare type. One trick is to purchase Southwest’s cheapest fares, known as Wanna Get Away fares.

Southwest sales can be a steal for reward bookings because as soon as ticket prices drop, so does the amount of points needed to secure your fare. By redeeming your points for these low-cost fares, you’ll get a great value, save points and even potentially have some left over to use in the future.

Nerdy tip: Use the Low Fare Calendar and book in advance since you can always change your flight later.

Purchase through when you can

Rather than booking your flights, hotel stays and car rentals on individual websites, look to first. Purchases through Southwest and Southwest’s partners will double your points earnings per dollar spent.

You can also earn bonus points when buying everyday items in the Rapid Rewards mall.

Earn the Companion Pass

After 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you can unlock the highly valuable Companion Pass. Once earned, this means that every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight, a designated companion can fly with you free of airline charges (just pay taxes and fees, as low as $5.60 one-way).

If 125,000 points sounds like a lot, don’t fret. It’s actually easier to get than many think, and your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card sign-up bonus and earning rates are big pieces of the Companion Pass puzzle. Check out our comprehensive guide to the Companion Pass.

Refer friends

As a cardmember, you can earn 10,000 points for each person you refer that gets approved for a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (up to five people per year). If you have a spouse, partner, friend, relative or co-worker who's looking to get a new card, refer them through Chase’s website for your own bonus points.

Lean on travel protections

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes with a variety of travel protections such as car rental insurance, roadside assistance, purchase protections, baggage insurance and more. Review the specifics of your card for details and coverage limits. If you don’t have travel protections from another card, these can be quite handy in several situations.

If you want to get the most value from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

There's no shortage of ways to get the most from your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, from the minute you sign up. Earn that bonus, take advantage of Southwest credits and upgraded boarding passes, and use a variety of other benefits provided by the card.

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:

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