Southwest Priority Credit Card review – Stacked with perks that easily offset the annual fee
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the highest-qualify member of the Southwest credit cards offered by Chase. With the card, you’ll earn 40,000 (roughly $600 in Southwest travel based on our valuations) after meeting the card’s minimum spending requirements. The Chase Southwest Priority also comes with a slew of terrific benefits, including a $75 annual Southwest travel credit and 7,500 Southwest points on your card anniversary.
Here’s our Southwest Priority card review.
Who is this card for?
If you fly Southwest often or have a Southwest hub nearby, this is one of the best airline credit cards for you. You can receive $600 in value from the card in the first year. I’ll show you how in just a minute.
First note that the Southwest Priority card is subject to Chase’s strict application policy, known as the Chase 5/24 rule. Chase won’t approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and certain other business cards) in the past 24 months.
Also, if you’ve already got a Southwest personal credit card, you’re not eligible to open this one. And we recommend that you don’t apply for travel credit cards if your credit score is below 700.
The best way to earn Southwest points is by opening a Southwest credit card. With this card you’ll earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. A Southwest point’s value is ~1.5 cents (and sometimes more), so it’ll be easy to get at least $600 worth of travel from the 40,000-point bonus.
A Southwest award chart doesn’t exist — the price you’ll pay in points is based on the cash price of the ticket. This means you’ll never have blackout dates when redeeming your hard-earned points. Plus, everyone gets two free checked bags and there are never any change or cancellation fees on Southwest.
Benefits and perks
Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel. The Southwest Priority Card’s welcome bonus and the points you earn from spending on the card both count toward earning the pass. To earn a Companion Pass you need to complete one of the following tasks in a calendar year:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points
Once you earn the Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you on paid and award flights for just the cost of taxes and fees. This can easily save you hundreds of dollars per flight. I use this for flights with my fiancé and we saved $1,000+ last year alone.
$75 in Southwest travel credits every year
Each year, you’ll receive $75 in statement credits after making eligible Southwest purchases. Basically, any Southwest purchases except for upgraded boarding and inflight purchases qualify. You can use this credit to purchase a ticket and effectively cut your annual fee in half.
7,500 anniversary points
Every year on your account anniversary, you’ll receive 7,500 Southwest points (worth ~$113 in airfare). That’s a nice way to offset most of the annual fee.
Four upgraded boardings
On your day of travel, when available, you can purchase an upgraded boarding. My last flight to Chicago was offering these upgrades for $50. Just use your card to purchase the upgrade and you’ll receive a statement credit up to four times per cardmember year. That’s worth up to $200.
20% back on inflight purchases
When you purchase inflight drinks, entertainment and Wi-Fi, you’ll receive 20% back in statement credits with no maximum. Wi-Fi is available for $8 per device, per flight. So you can save ~$2 when you purchase Wi-Fi.
Earn tier qualifying points
You earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQP) for each $10,000 you spend with your card on up to $100,000 in purchases every calendar year (15,000 TQP). These points count toward earning Southwest status.
How to use points with the Southwest Priority Card
It’s easy to earn points with the Southwest Priority Card. You can earn points in three ways:
- 2 Southwest points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases, including airfare
- 1 Southwest point per dollar on every other purchase
- 7,500 Southwest points each year on your card anniversary
Southwest award prices are based on the cash price of the ticket. This means no blackout dates as along as a paid ticket is available, but it also means no defined-award pricing. In general, Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each, but I’ve seen them go up to 1.8 cents each, and occasionally higher.
You can only redeem Southwest points for Southwest flights. In addition to award flights, you can also donate your points to charities or gift your points to another Southwest frequent flyer program member.
It’s really easy to redeem your Southwest points using their website or mobile app. In fact, they have a really fancy map that shows you all the routes they fly. I use this for inspiration when I want to see where I can travel.
To use your points, click on the “Points” button in the top right when searching for flights. On the next screen, you’ll see three columns showing you Business Select, Anytime and Wanna Get Away fares. The latter will offer the best value for your points. You’ll always get two free checked bags and free cancellations and changes with any fare. Select the flight you want and hit continue.
The next page shows you your specific itinerary, your points cost, and the taxes and fees (usually ~$6 for a one-way domestic flight).
If you ever need to cancel or change your flight, just head to your account page. You can see your future flights and choose the “Cancel/Change” button to see your options. If you don’t like any of the alternatives, you can cancel your flight. Your points will return to your account and your ~$6 will be refunded to your credit card or can be held on your account for future use — your choice.
Is the annual fee worth it?
True, the card’s annual fee is $149. But you can receive $1,000+ in value from the card in the first year:
- At least 41,000 points after earning the intro bonus and including the points earned by meeting spending requirements (worth $615 based on our Southwest points value estimation)
- $75 Southwest statement credit annually
- $113 in points (based on our Southwest points value estimation) annually
- Up to $200 in upgraded boardings annually
This is hands down one of the best Southwest credit cards.
This card may have the highest annual fee of all the Southwest personal cards, but it’s the only one that can entirely negate the annual fee every single year with no effort on your part. So long as you fly Southwest a couple times each year, you’ll receive ~$188 in free airfare thanks to a $75 Southwest statement credit and 7,500 Southwest points for renewing your card each year.
Those perks makes it the least expensive Southwest personal card – and one of the best credit cards for travel.
The Southwest Priority Card is the top dog among all the Chase Southwest personal cards. You’ll earn 40,000 Southwest points (worth $600 in travel) after meeting minimum spending requirements. The card offers a recurring value of nearly $400 for only a $149 annual fee.
If you fly Southwest often, you’ll get great use of this card. You can apply for the Chase Southwest Priority card here.