Is the Southwest Priority Card annual fee worth it?

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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 (read our Southwest Rapid Rewards review), 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, The Chase Southwest Priority benefits and perks are worthwhile. Let’s find out if the Southwest Priority card annual fee is worth it for you. It’s one of the best Southwest credit cards on the market. And check out our full Southwest Priority Card review for all the details.

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

Is the Southwest Priority Card annual fee worth it?

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 is no Southwest award chart — the price you pay in points is directly proportional to the cash price. When Southwest has a sale, the award price will drop, too. With this bonus, you’ll no doubt be surprised at how much free travel you’ll get.

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 other incentives are there to holding this card?

Offset the annual fee with yearly credits alone

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 our estimation of Southwest points value, those annual points are worth about $113 in Southwest flights. This single perk 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.

With just these two perks, your annual fee is covered — and then some. But there are more perks where that came from. You’ll also receive four upgraded boardings (positions A1 to A15) each account anniversary year (worth $30, $40, or $50 each, depending on the flight). That’s a value of up to $200. Plus, the card offers 20% back on Southwest in-flight purchases.

With the above benefits, you could easily save $350+ per year.

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.

  • 2 Southwest points per dollar spent on Southwest flights and partner hotel and car rentals
  • 1 Southwest point per dollar on everything else

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 125,000 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

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 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.

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? That’s $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 the latest on how to unlock free travel without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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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