Perhaps more than any other U.S. airline, Southwest has fans — true enthusiasts who love its free checked bags, no-fee flight changes and no-assigned-seat policy. Not surprisingly, these travelers tend to live in and regularly fly to airports Southwest serves, so they end up traveling on this airline a lot.
For these frequent-flying Southwest enthusiasts, one credit card holds greater appeal than all the others: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card from Chase.
» Learn more: Southwest Priority Card review: Pay more, get more
The annual fee
This one probably isn’t for sporadic Southwest travelers or half-hearted fans. The higher $149 annual fee weeds those folks right out. But the card rewards Southwest loyalists with a range of perks that more than offset that annual fee.
The welcome bonus
The sign-up bonus is the best perk: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. That’s more than enough points to get you all the way from the West Coast to Grandma’s in Fort Lauderdale during peak holiday travel times.
The card offers a $75 annual travel credit. Every year, you’ll get reimbursed for up to $75 of purchases made directly with Southwest on the card.
Southwest’s no-assigned-seat policy is controversial. But everyone agrees it’s a lot more pleasant when you upgrade to a higher boarding group. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers four upgraded boardings every year. And the only thing better than being among the first to grab a seat is enjoying that privilege for free.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card also makes it easier to earn A-List status with the airline. For every $10,000 charged to the card, you’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points, up to 15,000 points per year.
» Learn more: Benefits of Southwest Airlines credit cards
The Companion Pass
One of the most popular benefits of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program is the Companion Pass, which lets you choose a friend or loved one to fly with you for free, plus taxes and fees. Without a Southwest-branded credit card, the Companion Pass can be tough to earn: You have to either take 100 one-way flights or earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points to get the pass for the following year. Starting in January 2020, the point requirement increases to 125,000.
Not a lot of people can do that. But the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card puts this Companion Pass within reach — because the points you earn by using your credit card apply toward the points needed for a Companion Pass.
In addition to all these elite benefits tailored to frequent Southwest travelers, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers all the basic perks you’d expect. You’ll earn 2 Rapid Rewards points for every $1 spent with Southwest or the airline’s hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per $1 on everything else.
There are no foreign transaction fees, which is a must-have benefit for any traveler who makes purchases abroad. And if you use the card to buy drinks or Wi-Fi inflight, you’ll get a 20% discount. Together, these perks make the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card‘s $149 annual fee easier to justify.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best airline credit card for you
Southwest Rapid Rewards program: The complete guide
Which Southwest Airlines credit card should I get?