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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Great for Southwest Fans

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card has a valuable intro bonus and offers the most perks of the three Southwest consumer credit cards. While its annual fee is also the highest of the three, the benefits make it a great option even if you only take a few Southwest flights each year.

ProsCons
Points count toward the Southwest Companion PassAn annual fee
Receive travel credits, in-flight discounts and anniversary pointsModest rewards on purchases
Earn tier qualifying points that count toward elite status
No foreign exchange fee
Chase customer serviceCard Services
800-432-3117
P.O. Box 15298
Wilmington, DE 19850

Experian Review

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card can give you a head start on earning a Companion Pass, 20% discount on certain in-flight purchases and reimbursement for four upgraded boarding positions each year. There's a $149 annual fee, but that's offset by $75 in annual Southwest travel credits and 7,500 points you receive each year on your account's anniversary.

Intro Bonus Counts Toward Companion Pass

As a new cardholder, you can earn 40,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points if you make $1,000 worth of purchases during your first 3 months with the card.

You may reach the relatively low spending requirement simply by putting everyday purchases on the card, which is the smart move as you don't want to go into debt pursuing rewards.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (along with the other Southwest credit cards) stands out because the 40,000-point intro bonus counts toward the Southwest Companion Pass—an incredibly valuable benefit.

To earn the Companion Pass, you'll need to either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, which means the combined intro bonus get you over halfway there. To finish the requirement, you can earn qualifying points by using a Southwest credit card for purchases, buying Southwest flights or booking partner hotel stays or car rentals.

Once you receive the Companion Pass, you'll get it for the remainder of the current calendar year and the next calendar year.

You can only designate one person as your companion at a time, although you can change companions up to three times each year. Once chosen, whenever you book a flight (even if you book with points), you can add your companion to the same flight and only pay for their taxes and fees—which start at $5.60 per one-way flight.

Whether you're taking a one-hour flight, heading across the country or heading to the beaches in Hawaii, it's nearly a buy one, get one free deal on every flight. And you can use the Companion Pass as many times as you want.

Get Multiple Cardholder Perks and Benefits

Southwest Airlines is known for its unusual boarding process and lack of assigned seating. If you're late to check in for your flight, you might be stuck in a middle seat rather than spread out in an exit row aisle. Love it or hate it, it's how the system works.

If you're worried about boarding late, you may be able to purchase upgraded boarding (for an A1 to A15 spot) on your day of travel. These upgrades cost $30 to $50 each depending on the flight, but if you pay with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you'll get reimbursed for up to four of these upgrades each cardmember year.

Additional cardholder perks and benefits can save you money while booking flights, during flights and when traveling abroad. They include:

  • 20% back on drinks and Wi-Fi.
  • A $75 Southwest annual travel credit, which you can use to purchase flights and pay for the taxes and fees on rewards fights.
  • 7,500 bonus points each cardmember anniversary year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

You can also earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) for every $10,000 you spend with the card, up to $100,000 each year. The TQPs count toward A-List and A-List Preferred status in the Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program, which can give you priority access to ticket counters, boarding and security lines, bonus points on flights and free same-day standby flight changes.

Earning and Redeeming Points

Using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you'll earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest flights and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and rental cars, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. It's a lackluster rate considering other co-branded airline cards and general travel cards offer higher rewards on travel (not solely airline) purchases. However, the points are often worth more than 1 cent each if you use them to book airfare.

The exact value varies as Southwest's Rapid Rewards program ties the number of points you need for a flight to the current cost of a flight. However, on average, each point is worth around 1.5 cents when you use them to book Southwest flights.

You can also redeem points for merchandise, gift cards, hotel stays, rental cars and international flights on select carriers. And as a cardholder, you can redeem points for experiences, such as a cruise or wine tasting. But you'll often get the best value redeeming points on Southwest, particularly if you choose Wanna Get Away fares.

Receive Additional Travel and Purchase Protections

When you apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you may be approved for either a Visa Signature or Visa Platinum version of the card. The intro bonus, rewards, perks and cardholder benefits are identical.

You'll also get the same travel and purchase protections, for the most part. Limitations and coverage amounts may vary depending on if your card is the Signature or Platinum version:

  • Auto rental collision damage waiver: Secondary coverage that provides protection if your rental car is damaged or stolen.
  • Roadside dispatch: Connects you to a roadside dispatch service that offers pre-negotiated rates on services.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Reimburses you if your bags are lost, stolen or damaged and the airline doesn't cover the full cash value of the items.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Gives you up to $100 per day for up to three days to spend on eligible emergency purchases if your bags are delayed by more than six hours.
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 in benefits ($250,000 for Visa Platinum cards) for covered accidents, including loss of life, speech, hearing or limbs.
  • Travel and emergency assistance services: Only available with the Visa Signature version, the service can help refer you to local medical, legal, translation or transportation providers while you're traveling. It can also help you replace important documents or prescriptions that were lost, stolen or forgotten at home.
  • Extended warranty protection: Receive up to one additional year of warranty coverage on items that have an original warranty of three years or less.
  • Purchase protection: Get reimbursed up to $500 if something you buy with the card is stolen or damaged within 120 days of your purchase.

Many credit cards offer these types of benefits from their network (Visa, for example). Generally, you'll have to make the purchase with your credit card in order to receive the benefit, which is one reason it's often a good idea to use a credit card to book travel and make major purchases.

Additional Info

Purchase APR: 17.49% - 24.49% VariableGrace period: 21 days
Transfer APR: 17.49% - 24.49% VariableAnnual fee: $149
Cash advance APR: 26.49%Balance transfer fee: Greater of $5 or 5% of the transferred balance amount
Minimum interest charge: NoneCash advance fee: Greater of $10 or 5% of the cash advance amount
Foreign transaction fee: None
Late payment fee: Up to $39
Returned payment fee: Up to $39

Authorized-User Policy

You can choose to add an authorized user to your Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and give another person a card that's tied to your account. The authorized user will be able to make purchases with their card. But as the primary cardholder, you'll be responsible for all the bills.

The authorized user won't receive an additional four reimbursements for upgraded boarding purchases. However, the 20% discount applies to their eligible purchases, and the points from the purchases get added to your account and can help your progress toward a Companion Pass.

Is This Card Right for You?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could be a good fit if you plan on taking at least a few Southwest flights each year. The $75 annual travel credit and 7,500 points are worth $187.50 (assuming each point is worth 1.5 cents), which is more than the card's $149 annual fee. Plus, you're getting discounts on in-flight purchases and reimbursed for four upgraded boardings, when available.

However, the card is limited in that you won't earn a lot of points from purchases and will want to redeem the points for Southwest flights. If you're not working toward a Companion Pass and won't benefit from the other cardholder perks, a more general travel rewards cards will likely be a better fit.

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