With an eye-popping offer of a Companion Pass, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is attracting a lot of new users. Like two other Chase cards — the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card — its welcome bonus is as follows: Earn Companion Pass® through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
But unlike the other two cards, it comes with a higher annual fee, $149, offering added benefits like a $75 Southwest travel credit per year, 7,500 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary and four upgraded boardings per year when available.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Here’s what new cardholders need to do as soon as their Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card arrives.
1. Start spending (responsibly)
The Companion Pass lets you choose one person to accompany you on unlimited flights practically for free. They’ll pay fees, often as low as $5.60 each way, but no fares. The catch: The pass is good for travel only through Dec. 31, 2019 and since you have to spend $4,000 on the card before you earn this perk, you’ll want to hit that mark fast so you can start making the most of that pass right away.
» Learn more: Is the Southwest Companion Pass sign-on bonus worth it?
Think about purchases you would have to make anyway — new tires, home repairs, school textbooks, a new mattress you already planned to buy — and, assuming you’re prepared to pay off the card balance when the bill arrives, get shopping. Just don’t fall into the trap of unnecessary spending, which defeats the purpose of getting something free.
2. Decide what to do with your 30,000 bonus points
Normally a Southwest Companion Pass is tough to earn. Only travelers who accumulate 110,000 Southwest points or who fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year get this perk. (In 2020, this requirement is increasing to 125,000.) The 30,000 bonus points you’ll earn with your new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could help you make it to that point threshold for the following year, earning you a traditional Southwest Companion Pass good for an even longer period of time: The rest of the year in which you qualified and the following calendar year.
» Learn more: FAQs about the Southwest Companion Pass sign-up bonus
Start thinking about whether you want to use your sign-up bonus points toward another pass or instead redeem them for free travel with your companion. The Companion Pass works even when the primary traveler, you, uses points to buy their ticket.
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3. Browse Southwest’s popular routes
Once you get your hands on that Companion Pass, consider yourself in a race to make the most of it before Dec. 31, 2019. How many trips can you and your companion take? Where would you like to go? Spend some time browsing Southwest’s most popular destinations from your home airport and explore Southwest’s Low Fare Calendar feature. Then pull out your bucket list and compare.
» Learn more: 6 nearly free trips you can take with the Southwest Companion Pass promotion
4. Study a calendar
Do you know when you can get time off work to travel? Do you know when your companion can take vacation days? Do you know which holidays and long weekends could afford you chances to travel in 2019? Do you have a reunion, wedding or other scheduled event coming up that you and your companion will want to attend?
Start getting a handle now on what your 2019 travel will look like.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
5. Make plans with family and friends in faraway places
Check in with friends and family who live in places where Southwest flies to see when it might be a good time to visit.
6. Study up on Southwest boarding upgrades
If you’re new to flying Southwest, you may not be familiar with their boarding procedures with no assigned seats. But as a Priority Cardholder, you could enjoy up to four upgraded boardings per year for free. Your boarding position will be moved up, meaning you’ll be one of the first on the plane to choose your seat. Think about whether you want to save them for longer flights or use them right away.
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