Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
Frequent and casual Southwest Airlines flyers alike should consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card for its wide-ranging benefits and credits. Southwest veterans can further benefit with this card thanks to its built-in head start toward their elite A-List status and the ever-desirable Companion Pass.
The well-known reasons
Here is a quick spin around the well-known benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
Earn rate: Card holders earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases in addition to 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
A hefty sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. NerdWallet values Southwest points at 1.4 cents each; from these calculations alone, the value of this bonus exceeds the annual fee ($149).
Anniversary bonus: Get a 7,500-point bonus each year on your card member anniversary when you renew.
These well-known reasons to use a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card can be enjoyed on top of other loved perks of flying Southwest like reusable travel funds and two free checked bags per flight.
$75 Southwest annual travel credit
One of the most underrated reasons you need a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is that you automatically earn a $75 Southwest travel credit every card anniversary year. This means you’re already halfway to realizing a net positive return to its annual fee. Pair that with the 7,500 anniversary points added to your account annually, and you will quickly start seeing the ways that the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is worth the cost.
Get a taste of the A-List life before you get there thanks to this unique perk: Cardholders automatically earn credit for up to four upgraded boardings per year (based on availability). The savings add up quickly here since it can cost $30-$50 per flight to access those ever-coveted early boarding positions. At an average of $40 each, these upgrades are worth $160.
Elite status booster
Every $10,000 spent, up to $100,000, on your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card earns you a bonus of 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) toward A-List and A-List Preferred status. A-List status unlocks priority boarding in positions A1-A15, a 25% earning bonus on every qualifying flight, same-day standby, access to a dedicated A-List member phone line, and priority check-in and security lane access where available.
Since you need to earn 35,000 TQPs in a calendar year to access A-List status (or fly 25 qualifying one-way flights), the maximum 15,000 TQPs can be a significant step toward status.
Bonus points gets you one-third of the way to a Companion Pass
A-List status can feel tough to earn, but Southwest’s Companion Pass is even trickier. Even so, it’s a benefit still worth fighting (and flying) for: After 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you can designate a Companion to fly with you free of airline charges (just pay taxes and fees). This applies every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight while you are a Companion Pass holder.
The sign-up bonus (plus the minimum spend required to get it) is a big step in the right direction because it gets you over one-third of the way toward earning that valuable Companion Pass. Mix in a second Southwest card (business version) and/or the Elite Status Boost (15,000 points if maxed out) and the pass becomes far more attainable than one might think.
The bottom line
It’s not difficult to earn back the annual fee spent to add this card to your lineup. The $75 Southwest credit and four upgraded boarding passes more than cover the cost of the card on their own.
Plus you get a sign-up bonus in your first year and 7,500 anniversary bonus points each year after that. Add on the ability to earn TQPs to progress toward A-List or the Companion Pass, along with a mix of other smaller perks (like 20% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi, no foreign transaction fees and built-in travel protections), and even if you’re only a casual Southwest Airlines customer, this card is worth high consideration.
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:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card