On Thursday, Southwest and Chase launched three new welcome bonuses for their co-branded consumer/personal credit cards. Actually, it’s the same offer across three products. (INCREASED OFFER EXPIRED)
On top of that, all three cards have the same bonus categories: earn 2X on Southwest purchases and 1X on everything else.
So is there a single Southwest credit card that’s the best to get right now?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the way to go on this one. In fact, I really want this card. But thanks to Chase’s 5-24 rule (gross), that’s not happening. So I have to live vicariously through others. 🙂
Why the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card is the Best
Four perks set the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card apart from the other two.
And, yes, this card carries the highest annual fee of the bunch ($149 vs. $99 and $69). But you’ll easily recoup that in statement credit and benefits.
$75 Annual Southwest Travel Credit
You’ll receive up to $75 each anniversary year when you use your Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card for Southwest purchases (excluding Upgraded Boardings and inflight purchases).
An easy way to enjoy it is to buy $75 worth of airfare.
The other two cards do not offer the annual credit.
7,500 Bonus Points Each Anniversary Year
Starting the second year you hold the card, you’ll receive 7,500 bonus Rapid Rewards points.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth about 1.3 cents each of travel. So that’s almost like getting $97.50 in award travel each year.
So if you combine that value with the annual travel credit, you enjoy about $172 in Southwest travel each year — thanks to your $149 card. (The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card gets 6,000 bonus points each anniversary year and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card awards 3,000. Again, with no annual travel credit.)
Remember that if you achieve the welcome bonus, you have about $845 worth of award travel to enjoy, too.
Oh, there are still more benefits.
20% Statement Credit on Southwest In-Flight Drinks and WiFi
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card members receive 20% back when using their card to pay for inflight cocktails and WiFi during Southwest flights. I almost always enjoy a beverage (or two) when flying. So if you’re like me, this perk will save you some bucks.
Beer and wine cost $6 a drink. The good stuff is $7. WiFi runs $8 per day.
Four Upgraded Boardings (A1-A15) Each Year
Southwest is (in)famous for its open seating policy. You want an A group boarding pass; you don’t want C.
If any Southwest’s Business Select boarding positions (A1-A15) are unsold before a flight, you can “upgrade” to one of those high-A slots.
If you pay a premium upcharge.
But Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card members have no such worry.
Four times each year, they can upgrade to A1-A15 (when available) and pay the fee with their card. They’ll be reimbursed those charges.
So if you value things like legroom (especially on long flights), getting on board ASAP to score an exit row or bulkhead seat is critical. And upgraded boardings help. A lot.
What About the Other Cards?
If you strictly want a quick haul of points and nothing else, then get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card ($69 annual fee) and reevaluate next year. The Premier doesn’t make a compelling case — at least, for me.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card makes sense for people who fly — or want to fly — Southwest Airlines a few times a year. The $75 travel credit, 7,500 annual bonus points, the 20% inflight incidental credit, and upgraded boardings make this a decent card to hold.
The card pretty much pays for itself.
- Receive 7,500 bonus points each year upon card renewal (starting the second year of card membership)
- $75 Southwest travel credit each year.
- Enjoy four (4) upgraded boardings (boarding positions A1-A15) per year when available.
- 20% statement credit on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- 2X on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1X on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
- $149 annual fee.
- Learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
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