How my Southwest Priority card pays for itself in just four flights a year – The Points Guy


I have to come clean before we get into this: Flying Southwest Airlines isn’t exactly my favorite travel experience. From setting a check-in alarm to avoid that dreaded C group to the awkward open seating interactions, it’s not exactly my cup of tea.

That said, sometimes the fares or nonstop routes from my home in Pittsburgh are too good to pass up. And for me, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card makes those trips infinitely more enjoyable.

This card also just won Best Airline Cobranded Credit Card at the 2023 TPG Awards, so let’s get into why I — and a lot of you, too — think it’s worth it.

Sometimes I can’t pass up a Pittsburgh to Orlando nonstop flight. MARIAH WILD/WALT DISNEY WORLD

4 free upgraded boardings

You know those coveted A1 to A15 boarding positions? Sure, you could pay for a pricier Business Select fare, but the Southwest Priority card will reimburse you for up to four upgraded boardings per year, which bump you up into those prime positions when paying the more affordable Anytime and Wanna Get Away fares.

Four upgrades are perfect for someone like me who only flies Southwest a few times a year. Southwest says pricing starts at $30 each, but in my experience, I’ve almost always seen them at the $40 mark — meaning this benefit alone adds up to $160 in value per year for me, already exceeding the card’s $149 annual fee.

These upgrades are also easier than ever to redeem. Back in the day, you could only redeem them at the airport, but now, you can buy upgraded boarding on the Southwest app or website right after you check in at the 24-hour mark. Yes, you’ll still want to set that alarm because upgraded boarding isn’t always available, and with the easier redemption, they tend to go a bit faster than before.

Annual travel credit and anniversary points

You’ll also get an annual $75 Southwest travel credit each year and 7,500 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points on your card anniversary. Based on TPG’s monthly valuations, those anniversary points are worth $105.

So, when you add up the $75 credit, the 7,500 bonus points and the four upgraded boardings, you end up with roughly $340 in value each year, more than double the annual fee.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card also has a few incentives if you’re chasing Southwest A-List status or a Companion Pass. You’ll earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $5,000 you spend on the card starting January 2024 (which is significantly improved from the $10,000 spend needed for the same tier-qualifying points in 2023). The card also gives you an annual boost of 10,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points.

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Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Bonus categories

The Southwest Priority card has a few spending categories where you’ll earn bonus Rapid Rewards points:

  • 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases, including flights, items you buy inflight, gift cards and Southwest Vacations packages
  • 2 points per dollar spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and rental car partners
  • 2 points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting category purchases
  • 2 points per dollar spent on internet, cable and phone services, as well as select streaming services

While these might help if you’re shooting for A-List status, I generally rely on other cards I have to maximize earnings in these categories. I also like to book hotel and rental cars directly to avoid cancellation or change issues.


Save money inflight and through Chase

Two other smaller perks serve as the icing on the cake.

First, you’ll get 25% back on inflight purchases. I’ve seen this statement credit post on Southwest inflight Wi-Fi purchases, lowering the effective cost from $8 to $6.

Additionally, I’ve frequently found solid Chase Offers targeted to my Southwest Priority card, including cash-back offers on Southwest purchases. The offer I’m currently targeted for gives 5% cash back on Southwest purchases of $50 or more (up to $20), and a previous offer provided up to 10% cash back. I’ve also cashed in on Chase Offers for restaurants like First Watch, plus Instacart and gas purchases.

Bottom line

You may think airline-cobranded cards only make sense if you’re super loyal to that airline. However, with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, you don’t have to be. Even flying Southwest only a few times a year can more than cover the annual fee. By having the card, I’m able to make those trips a little more enjoyable along the way.

To learn more, read our full review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.

Official application link: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card


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