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New Southwest Priority Card Offers Sky-High Bonus, Perks Galore

Sept. 11, 2018
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Cards, Promos, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Southwest Airlines fans, fasten your seat belts: A new co-branded credit card is ready for takeoff, and it’s loaded with goodies.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, launched this week by the airline and Chase, offers many of the same benefits as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. But it piles on several enticing extras — including a rich introductory bonus offer — that can easily outstrip the card’s annual fee of $149.

The card offers a limited-time sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

That sizable sign-up bonus isn’t the only highlight of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. New cardholders will also receive:

  • 7,500 anniversary points each account anniversary year
  • A $75 Southwest® annual travel credit (can be used toward Southwest® purchases such as flights, pet carrier fees and other day-of-travel purchases).
  • Up to 4 upgraded boardings per year (based on availability)
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases (including drinks, Wi-Fi, messaging and movies).

The card’s limited-time sign-up bonus — if you can spend enough on the card to earn the full amount — is larger than those currently available on the existing Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, and it represents the chance to earn more than half the points needed for a much-coveted Southwest Companion Pass. You can be eligible for a Companion Pass by earning 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

» MORE: Southwest Rapid Rewards program: The complete guide

Eligible Premier and Plus cardholders may be able to upgrade to the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, but they won’t qualify for its introductory sign-up bonus.

Here’s how the three cards stack up:

 Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Annual fee$149 $99 $69
Rewards2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases; 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Sign-up bonusEarn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Anniversary pointsEarn 7,500 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year. Earn 6,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year. Earn 3,000 points automatically after your cardholder anniversary each year.
Earns tier qualifying points?YesYesNo
Foreign transaction feesNoneNone3%
APR The ongoing APR is 17.74% - 24.74% Variable APRThe ongoing APR is 17.74% - 24.74% Variable APRThe ongoing APR is 17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR

“There really weren’t in-flight and day-of-travel benefits on our current cards,” said Leslie Gillin, Chase co-brand cards president. “We listened to our consumers and the number one insight that we heard was that people wanted to get on the plane faster.”

Outside of the sign-up bonus and travel credit, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers many ways to offset the cost of its annual fee. Its anniversary points alone could be worth plenty, according to NerdWallet valuations. The four upgraded boardings have a value of $30 to $50 per flight. If you plan to take advantage of all perks, you’ll more than make up for the cost of carrying the card.

The card doesn’t offer free checked bags like most airline credit cards do because Southwest doesn’t charge for your first two checked bags. Other airlines generally charge $25 or more per bag each way.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card may also offer a geographical advantage for some as Southwest gets closer to launching its scheduled service to Hawaii in 2018. 

“We think a lot of folks on the West Coast are going to love how many points they’re going to get,” said Corbitt Burns, director of Rapid Rewards at Southwest Airlines.

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