Maximize the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card Benefits

Cardholders can earn a sign-up bonus, anniversary bonus and referral bonus, as well as other benefits.
Elina Geller
Meg Lee
By Meg Lee and  Elina Geller 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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As Southwest’s premium personal credit card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers a bunch of useful benefits that you won’t find on some of its other cards. These include a $75 annual Southwest credit and four upgraded boardings for the $149 annual fee. For true Southwest fans, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is a value magnet, whether you fly the airline exclusively or only when a particularly good deal pops up on your radar.

Here’s how you can maximize benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Apply when the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card bonus is high

Currently, the bonus is: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

That's a great deal because it provides a huge shortcut to earning a Companion Pass in less time and by spending less money than the typical requirements.

Because it is essential to earn the initial sign-up bonus, you should prioritize spending on this card in the early days, especially if you have upcoming travel plans that could involve Southwest.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card earns:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines including flights, in-flight purchases, gift cards, Southwest Airlines Vacations packages and purchases at participating Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners.

  • 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming services.

  • 1 point per $1 on everything else.

There are plenty of ways to meet a credit card’s minimum spend if you’re stumped for ideas.

Use your $75 Southwest annual travel 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.

The $75 annual credit essentially reduces the $149 annual fee by half.

Renew your card to receive 7,500 anniversary bonus points

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.

Additionally, NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each. Thus, the 7,500 anniversary points are worth $112.

Take advantage of 4 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 (A1-A15). Upgrades can be made online via Southwest's upgraded boarding page. 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 later 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.

Leverage Southwest Rapid Rewards partners

Rather than booking your 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 shopping portal.

Earn the Companion Pass

Typically after taking 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).

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.

Spend your way to A-list or A-List Preferred elite status

A new perk on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the ability to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 spent. You can earn an unlimited number of TQPs.

Southwest offers two levels of elite status:

  1. A-List: Complete 25 one-way flights or earn 35,000 TQPs.

  2. A-List Preferred: Complete 50 one-way flights or earn 70,000 TQPs.

You’d have to spend a significant amount of money to reach status with just credit card spend. However, if you’re already nearing a status level, those extra TQPs earned on your credit card can help, especially if you use this card for everyday expenses.

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 the card's complimentary travel insurance

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 maximize the benefits 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 2023, including those best for:

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