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Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card Review: Designed the Loyal Southwest Flyer

(4 out of 5) MyBankTracker Editor's Rating

not only gives you unlimited points.

You also receive access to exclusive travel benefits. This applies whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally. 

If you're a frequent flyer and Southwest Airlines is your carrier of choice, this card is designed with you in mind.

Along with exclusive cardmember travel benefits, you’ll enjoy perks specific to Southwest Airlines.

Here’s what you need to know about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
  • Annual travel credit for Southwest
  • Upgraded boardings
  • 20% back on inflight purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $149 annual fee
  • No introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers

Rewards Program

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card offers multiple ways to earn points.

  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Use your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card when booking a Southwest Airlines flight—or when making reservations with a partnered company—and earn two points for every dollar spent. 

You can then redeem for flights to over 90 destinations. 

Other redemption prizes include gift cards, hotel stays, rental cars, and merchandise. So the more you use your credit card, the more you can receive.

Annual Fee

Similar to other rewards credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card does charge an annual fee.

This fee is $149, and it's applied to your first billing statement. 

Annual fees are typical with many rewards programs, as they help cover the cost of the rewards program.

Understandably, paying an annual fee doesn’t sit well with everyone. But although this is an extra expense, it’s a small price to pay—once you consider what you’re getting for the money. 

When it comes to annual fees, it’s important to know what you’re getting in return.

Look:

The annual fee with Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is higher than some of the competition.

The card's other benefits aim to make this fee worth the money.

Before signing up for any credit card that has an annual fee, be honest with yourself.

Consider how often you’ll take advantage of cardmember benefits. If you’ll utilize these benefits, you’ll quickly discover that the rewards you receive as a cardmember greatly exceed the cost of any annual fee.

Get More With Extra Cardmember Benefits

As a cardmember, what exactly can you expect from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card?

In addition to the above features, here’s what the card offers:

1. No foreign transaction fee

If you travel abroad, feel free to use your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card wherever Visa is accepted.

Some credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, but this card doesn’t—saving you money. Foreign transaction fees can range from 3% to 5% of each transaction.

2. Annual travel credit

Using your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card doesn’t only get you rewards points. You might also be eligible for an annual travel credit up to $75. 

All you have to do is use this credit card for purchases with Southwest Airlines.

Each year, Southwest automatically applies a statement credit to your Rapid Rewards Priority card.

The travel credit applies to purchases like airfare and pet carrier fees. It doesn’t apply to upgraded boarding fees or in-flight purchases.

3. Upgraded boarding

One perk of having the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is that you are reimbursed for the upgraded boarding fee -- up to four reimbursements each year.

This money-back comes in the form of a statement credit.

Typically, Southwest charges $30, $40, or $50 for upgraded boarding per flight, depending on your itinerary.

Why is this a notable perk?

If you’re familiar with Southwest Airlines, then you know that the airline doesn’t assign seats.

Instead, you’re assigned a boarding group at check-in.

So, the earlier you check into your flight, the sooner you can board the plane and choose your seat. 

If you check-in late, the airline might assign a late boarding group.

This could result in a bad seat and limited overhead space.

4. 20 percent back on in-flight purchases

There’s no denying the expense of in-flight purchases, whether you’re buying drinks or Wi-Fi. 

Getting approved for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card, though, can help you save money on in-flight purchases.

As a cardmember, you’ll receive 20 percent back from Southwest Airlines for in-flight purchases in the form of statement credit. 

And the best part:

You don’t have to wait weeks or days for the credit to post to your account.

You’ll receive a same-day credit, and you’ll also get a credit on purchases made by an authorized user. This is someone who has permission to use your credit card. 

5. Companion pass

Although you can redeem your reward points for hotels, car rentals, gift cards, and more, it pays to redeem your points for a flight, especially if you’re traveling with a companion. 

Another perk of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is that each time you purchase or redeem points for a flight, you can choose someone to fly with you for (almost) free.

You’re responsible for taxes and fees, though. 

Keep in mind:

To qualify for a companion pass, you must fly 100 qualifying one-way flights, or earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. 

Once you’re eligible, you can use your pass for the remainder of the current year, and all of the following year. 

6. Other credit card perks

In addition to exclusive Priority card benefits, you’ll also enjoy travel benefits specific to Southwest Airlines. These include two free checked bags and no change fees.

In addition, the credit card comes with many standard travel and purchase protection benefits.

For example: 

  • auto rental collision damage waiver
  • extended warranty protection
  • purchase protection
  • baggage delay insurance 
  • travel accident insurance 
  • travel and emergency assistance services 
  • lost luggage reimbursement

Compared to Similar Credit Cards

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card isn’t the only co-branded card offered by the airline.

There’s also the option of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. 

These cards have similar features, in that they all offer bonus reward points, anniversary points, and two points per dollar spent with Southwest Airlines and its partners. 

Before applying for any card, identify which benefits are most important to you. While the Priority credit card has many features, consider whether you’ll actually use them. 

Maybe you don’t care about upgraded boarding or discounts on in-flight purchases.

If so, you might skip the Priority credit card and choose one with a cheaper annual fee.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus

is the entry-level card branded by Southwest.

It doesn't have perks such as upgraded boardings, the annual travel credit, in-flight reimbursements, and the ability to earn qualifying points toward A-list status.

The annual fee is $69 and there are foreign transaction fees -- so this card is not great for international travel.

Read the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Editor's Review.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier

is the mid-ter Southwest credit card that does waive foreign transaction fees. 

Also, you can earn tier qualifying points toward loyalty status.

However, it doesn't offer the other benefits available with the Priority version.

Read the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Editor's Review.

Final Verdict

Looking for a rewards credit card to earn more points per dollar on air travel?

If so, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is a great option, especially if Southwest is your airline of choice. 

You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees. Plus, you’ll receive an annual travel credit and bonus points. 

The downside, though, is the higher annual fee. And unfortunately, you won’t earn two points per dollar when using the card to book flights with other airlines.

For that reason, this card isn’t a good fit if you’re not brand loyal. 

But if you use a credit card for everyday purchases, this card is perfect for racking up reward points. Just make sure you pay off your balance in full every month.

Frequently using the card gets you closer to free flights, hotels, merchandise, and gift cards. But it can also result in huge debt if you’re not careful.