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Southwest Airlines has added a new member to its credit card family — the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. This is the airline’s way of offering their best customers a card with a few more perks and benefits than the existing Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
That may leave many Southwest fans wondering which card is best for them. The right credit card is one that gives you great value and fits into your lifestyle, said Matt Schulz, the chief industry analyst for CompareCards.com.
“If you fly on Southwest frequently, there’s no question that you can get value from the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card,” said Schulz. “Sure, there’s a $149 annual fee, but when you factor in a $75 Southwest annual travel credit, four boarding upgrades per year and 7,500 anniversary points per year, it won’t be hard for Southwest loyalists to get their money’s worth from this card.”
But it’s important that you understand the fine print before you apply. “There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s important to understand your own spending habits and goals before you apply,” Schulz said.
Read on for our full review.
Where the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card stands out in its category
More ways to earn bonus points. New cardmembers earn Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year. They also receive 7,500 bonus points each account anniversary year — that’s 1,500 more than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
Points for elite status. This card allows you to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for every $10,000 you spend on the card, up to $100,000 for 15,000 TQP. These TQPs help you qualify for Rapid Rewards A-List or A-List Preferred status. You earn A-List status after flying 25 one-way trips or 35,000 tier qualifying points, or A-List Preferred after 50 one-way trips or 70,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year.
More perks. You’ll get an automatic $75 statement credit when you use your card for purchases up to an anniversary year maximum accumulation of $75. Terms apply. Get a 20% statement credit for in-flight purchases made on the card for drinks, messaging, movies and Wi-Fi.
Better boarding. You’ll be reimbursed for buying up to four upgraded position A1-15 boardings at the departure gate or ticket counter. The price you’ll be credited ranges from $30 to $50 each way, depending on your itinerary.
Companion pass. Like all Southwest Airlines cards, this one gives you the chance to earn this popular benefit when you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Once you’ve earned the pass, you’re able to bring a companion for free on all flights you buy or redeem with your points during a calendar year.
Where the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card falls short in its category
Points per $1 spent. Just like the other Southwest cards, this one remains at 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. It’s surprising that Southwest, unlike other airlines like American and United, hasn’t upped the points per $1 spent on the top categories of dining, gas, groceries and travel.
Higher annual fee. You have to question whether the handful of new perks is worth shelling out a $149 annual fee to get them.
Limited route network. Your Rapid Rewards can take you to points in the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica. Southwest’s More Rewards website only gives you about 1 cent per point for bookings, so you’re better off sticking with using your Rapid Rewards points on Southwest’s network, where you get a better 1.6 cents per point. Flights between Washington, D.C., and Paris in October range from 87,606 points on American Airlines and British Airways to a whopping 365,126 points on Lufthansa.
Spending for points. The chance to earn another 25,000 points is nice, but some may not want to spend the $15,000 during cardmember anniversary year to get it. And, you have to decide whether you want to spend at least $10,000 a year to get the TQPs. “No one should ever overspend on this or any other credit card just to get rewards, no matter how lucrative those rewards are,” said Schulz. “That’s just asking for trouble.”
Upgraded boarding passes. You can only use the four upgraded boarding passes on the day of travel.
Additional card benefits
- Lost luggage insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Roadside dispatch
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
Compare it with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Maybe you want a card that isn’t quite as robust as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, but has more benefits than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card could be a good option for you.
Like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, this card helps you get A-List or A-List Plus status by earning 1,500 TQPs each time you spend $15,000 a year on the card. You still earn anniversary bonus points, but it’s only 6,000 of them a year. You can also earn the Companion Pass.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card comes with all the travel and purchase protections under Visa® Signature, including lost luggage and baggage delay insurance, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, purchase protection and extended warranty.
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card|
|Regular Purchase APR||17.99% - 24.99% Variable||17.99% - 24.99% Variable|
|Rewards||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.||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 Bonus||Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year.||Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 within your first year.|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||$0||$0|
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card’s yearly $75 Southwest Annual Travel Credit makes it a cheaper card to hold than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, at a $99 annual fee. Considering the enhanced benefits you get with this card at a lower annual fee, it could be a great option if you’re looking for an upgrade.
What the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card card doesn’t have is flexibility, said Schulz. “As opposed to other cards that feature points and miles that can be used anytime and anywhere, this card is airline-specific,” he said. “That’s great for someone who prefers Southwest and flies it regularly, but it can be limiting if you want to keep your options open.”