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Is the Southwest Priority Card Annual Fee Worth It? With a Generous Bonus and Unique Perks, Absolutely!

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Is the Southwest Priority Card Annual Fee Worth It? With a Generous Bonus and Unique Perks, Absolutely!

Alyssa CerchiaiIs the Southwest Priority Card Annual Fee Worth It? With a Generous Bonus and Unique Perks, Absolutely!Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

INSIDER SECRET: For frequent Southwest flyers, this card is the gift that keeps on giving. Alongside its sign-up bonus, it gives card holders 7,500 points each card anniversary and a $75 annual Southwest credit. 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card comes with 40,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening the account — that’s worth about $600 according to our Southwest points value.

As one would expect, cards with that type of value don’t come without a price. In this case, the annual fee is $149, which is absolutely a consideration if you’re thinking about applying. It poses the question: Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card really worth it?

If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, this card without a doubt will come in handy. The card offers perks like a $75 Southwest annual credit, four upgraded boardings per year, 20% back on inflight purchases, 7,500 points on the card holder’s account anniversary each year and more.

Even if you’re not completely loyal to Southwest, there are plenty of benefits to be had with this card. Let’s find out if the Southwest Priority card annual fee is worth it for you.

Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card annual fee worth it? (Photo by Lowe Llaguno/Shutterstock)

Is the Annual Fee for the Southwest Priority Card Worth It?

Apply here: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card

Read our review of the Southwest Priority Card

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card — along with the the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card — is offering a 40,000-point bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

There’s no question that you’ll be getting a return on the card with that type of sign-up bonus. Even if you didn’t take advantage of any of the card’s other perks — which we definitely don’t recommend — you’ll cover the $149 annual fee many times over as long as you meet the minimum spending requirement.

So, what are those other perks?

Amazing Opportunities to Earn Without Even Spending

Alongside the awesome current sign-up bonus offer, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card also gives cardholders 7,500 Rapid Rewards points each year on the card member anniversary just for holding the card. According to our calculations, those annual points are worth about $113 in Southwest flights. This perk alone would compensate for most of the annual fee and that’s not even counting that sign-up bonus.

The card also provides a $75 Southwest credit each year. You can use it on almost every Southwest purchase, including booking that flight you’ve had your eye on, but excluding upgraded boardings and inflight purchases.

Cha-ching! With just these two perks, your annual fee is covered — and then some.

Earn When You Swipe, Too

While the spending categories on this card aren’t outstanding, they still allow room for earning. The structure is pretty simple. For reference, we value Southwest Rapid Rewards points at about 1.5 cents apiece.

  • 2x Southwest points per dollar spent on Southwest flights and partner hotel and car rentals
  • 1x Southwest point per dollar on everything else
You’ll earn 2x points per dollar on Southwest flights and partner hotel and car rentals. (Photo by Pandit Chanthong/Shutterstock)

There are lots of tips and tricks for the best way to use Southwest points. Our recommendation? Check out the Caribbean or Hawaii.

Oh, and remember when we said that you couldn’t apply that $75 credit toward inflight purchases? If you decide to spend on board a Southwest flight, you’ll still earn 20% back. Not too shabby.

Fly Southwest Comfortably — and Work Toward Status and the Companion Pass

Every year, Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card provides four upgraded boardings to boarding positions A1 through A15 when available. You can only redeem these upgrades on the day of travel at the departure gate or ticket counter. (Card holders are reimbursed after the purchase of the upgrade.) Not only does this perk have a great potential for added comfort in flight, it also adds immense value to the card.

Remember: While you’re reclining in your favorite seat, don’t forget that you can earn that 20% back on a cocktail in the sky with your Priority card.

Be among the first to board, then get 20% off in-flight. (Photo by Tom Clausen/Shutterstock)

Many of us know that the most comfortable way to travel is with Southwest elite status, and although the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card doesn’t give you status, it does allow you to earn up to 15,000 tier qualifying points (TQPs) from the card to help you get there. Card holders earn 1,500 for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually. The only other way to earn TQPs is by flying Southwest directly.

In order to reach A-List status, flyers must reach 35,000 TQPs or 25 qualifying one-way flights, so the ability to apply the card’s points toward that goal will contribute to status for priority boarding, 25% more points earned on each flight and other A-List perks in the future.

Points earned on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card also count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass, where you can have a friend join you on paid and award flights for just the cost of taxes and fees. To qualify for a sought-after Companion Pass, you’ll need to accumulate 110,000 points in a calendar year from paid Southwest flights, base points earned from Southwest Rapid Rewards partners and purchases made on the Southwest credit cards.

Travel and Purchase Protection With the Southwest Priority Card

Even if you’re not a frequent Southwest flyer, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card has perks you’ll be happy to know about: travel and purchase protection, for instance.

The travel protection includes an auto-rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, roadside dispatch and travel accident insurance. We all know there’s no worse feeling than waiting at baggage claim and not recognizing anything on the carousel.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card has you covered when you don’t see your suitcase at baggage claim. (Photo by Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock)

The card’s purchase protection “covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account.” Plus, the purchase protection includes an extended warranty protection, adding a year to eligible warranties that are three years or less.

What About Other Southwest Credit Cards?

When exploring alternatives to the Southwest Rapids Reward Priority Card, you’ll probably want to consider one of Southwest’s other two personal cards. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is the top-tier of the trio, but Southwest also has the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card.

Right now, all three Southwest personal cards have the same bonus offer of 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. All three cards also have the same spending categories — 2x points per dollar on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners and 1x points per dollar on everything else.

The cards differ in their annual fees. While the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card has an annual fee of $149, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card costs $99 annually and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card only costs $69.

One of the main differences between the three cards is the anniversary points bonus. The Priority card pays 7,500 points annually, while the Premier card gives 6,000 points (about $90 worth of airfare) and the Plus card only gives 3,000 points (about $45 in airfare).

All three of the cards get close to covering their annual fees with the value of their anniversary points bonuses, but none of them quite hit the mark. The Premier and Plus cards, however, don’t offer the $75 Southwest credit that the Priority card does, which means that card earns back its fee every year.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card also falls short in a couple of categories: It doesn’t allow for TQP earnings toward elite status and it adds foreign transaction fees.

Even though the Priority card has the highest annual fee, it always comes out on top when comparing the three, mainly because of the annual $75 Southwest credit.

Bottom Line

With minimal effort, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card pays for itself over and over and over again. A 40,000-point bonus? Add $600. A 7,500-point annual anniversary bonus? Add $112.50 per year. Then add on the $75 Southwest credit yearly, some upgrades, and some money back, and we’re talking real earnings.

Yes, the $149 annual fee is higher than other Southwest cards, but with such a hefty sign-up bonus and awesome perks, this card can catch the eye of even non-Southwest flyers.

For more Southwest tips and tricks, check out our guides:

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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First rule of hyper-ventilating business writing when selling (ahem) a credit card…. lots of caffeine, lots of glittering phrases promising the moon yet delivering…. nothing:

absolutely

without a doubt

amazing

no question

(absolutely) no question

etc, etc.

Ah, but you’re a bit week on that good ole Daraius trade-mark, lots (and lots) of exclamation points (!!)

Absolutely.

Seriously, this post mostly reads like long form Chase pr copy….. one of the least compelling cases I’ve seen yet for this “premier” card (even over the other lame Chase/SW cards — Yah, I’ve had three of them — several times over each, over the past decade….. never once renewed any of them, and nothing particularly special about this card either…. seriously.)

I was originally intrigued to see that this card included the perk for better boarding position…. but THAT (!) fell flat (sigh) when I realized it only was good for four uses. Would have been nice to get ahead of the usual Southwest cattle car experience…., but an extra $80 for the privilege? Pass. (Absolutely pass.)

As for the hype about the points you get each year on renewal (OMG!), again, readers might try the decaf…. Chase UR’s are far, far easier to pick up, and easily transfer to SW. The $75 credit ? Um…. nice perhaps (maybe) if you could use it on taxes and fees. (Otherwise, how many savvy travel hackers ever pay for day-of-travel expenses on Southwest??? Really? Ok, there’s the cat carrier fee, but luggage?)

Rocky.