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Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Should You Upgrade?

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It seems that every airline and hotel is launching a premium version of their credit cards. Now it’s Southwest’s turn.

The new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card is a premium credit card that is full of benefits worthy of the higher annual fee. Let’s take a look at what changed and see if you should add the Priority card to your wallet.

Before the launch of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card, Southwest had two personal credit cards and one business credit card. The two consumer credit card—the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card—are virtually identical. The only differences are that the Premier has a $30 higher annual fee, an additional 3,000 anniversary points upon renewal and the ability to earn up to 15,000 A-List tier qualifying points.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card is the lower-end co-branded card. For travelers who aren’t concerned about earning A-List status, this card offers everything you need to fly for free with Southwest Airlines.

The sign-up bonus is currently 40,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. The $69 annual fee isn’t waived the first year, but you will receive 3,000 points when the card renews. Those 3,000 points are worth $45 in Southwest airfare.

You’ll earn 2x points for Southwest purchases and when you spend with their hotel and car rental partners. Everything else will earn 1 point per dollar.

Southwest doesn’t charge for bags, so there’s no need for free checked bags as a benefit.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

For $30 more per year than the Plus, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card has been my card of choice for more than a decade. This card has helped me earn the Southwest Companion Pass for the last 13 years in a row.

It earns 2x points with Southwest and its hotel and rental car partners. And cardholders receive 6,000 anniversary bonus points each year when they renew the card.

When I was focused on earning A-List status, I could earn up to 15,000 A-List tier qualifying points just by spending on the Southwest Premier credit card. And every dollar you spend on the Premier card counts towards earning the Companion Pass.

Now that Southwest has international flights to Mexico, Costa Rica, Aruba and the Caribbean, it is important that the Premier has no foreign transaction fees.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card is virtually identical to the personal version. This card earns 2x with Southwest and its rental car and hotel partners. Points earned through spending on the card count towards the Companion Pass. And you’ll earn 6,000 tier qualifying points each year when you renew the card.

The biggest difference is that you cannot earn A-List tier qualifying points for spending on the business Premier credit card.

On the bright side, the current sign-up bonus of 60,000 Rapid Rewards points is larger when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. And employee cards are offered at no charge, so you can hit the minimum spend and earn a lot of Rapid Rewards points without any additional expense.

What’s New With Southwest Priority Card?

The new Chase Southwest Rapid Reward Priority credit card seeks to improve the credit card’s benefits to make it more attractive to regular travelers. This upgrade also allows for more differentiation between the consumer versions of the Southwest credit card.

The Plus and Premier are basically the same credit card, with the Premier having a $30 higher annual fee ($99 vs. $69) and the ability to earn 1,500 A-List tier qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card each year.

So, what is new with the Southwest Priority card?

Each cardholder anniversary, all Southwest credit cards provide bonus points. With the Priority card, you’ll now receive 7,500 miles instead of 6,000 with the Premier or 3,000 for the Plus.

Additionally, you’ll also get a $75 annual Southwest travel credit that is good for flights and Early Bird priority boarding fees. Cardholders will also get 4 upgraded boardings per year. Simply pay for the upgrade to boarding position 1 through 15 at the gate, then a credit will appear on your next statement.

In-flight discounts are also a new feature of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card. Previous versions of the Southwest card did not offer in-flight discounts, but the Priority card provides a statement credit equal to 20% off in-flight purchases.

This makes the Southwest Priority card more competitive with the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum (25% discount), United Explorer Card (25%) and the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (20%). The good thing is the Southwest is fairly generous with their in-flight snacks, but you still may want to purchase a drink or Wi-Fi to have a more comfortable flight.

Is the Southwest Priority Card Worth the Higher Annual Fee?

The simple answer is yes.

For an extra $50 in annual fees more than the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card, each year you will receive:

  • 1,500 additional anniversary points
  • A $75 Southwest travel credit
  • Four priority boarding passes
  • 20% off in-flight purchases

If you will be traveling on Southwest at least once a year, it is a total no-brainer to pick the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card over the Plus or Premier cards.

The Southwest Priority Tour

Southwest is ready to hype their new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card in a big way. They’re rolling out a multi-city tour through 10 of their busiest hubs to get the word out to people who “LUV” Southwest.

At each stop along the way, travelers can earn Rapid Rewards points and enter to win prizes like round-trip travel to anywhere Southwest flies!

Here are the dates of the Southwest Priority tour:

  • July 21 – Dallas from 4 pm to 8:30 pm at Globe Life Park
  • July 27 – Houston from 3 pm to 9 pm at Discovery Green Park
  • July 28 – Los Angeles from 4 pm at Eagle Rock Rec Park
  • July 29 – Los Angeles from 10 am to 4 pm at Smorgsborg LA
  • TBD – Phoenix
  • August 3 – Oakland from 9 am to 3 pm at Oakland City Hall
  • August 3 – Oakland from 5 pm to 9 pm at Oakland First Friday
  • August 4 – San Jose from 2 pm to 8 pm at San Pedro Square Market
  • August 5 – San Jose from 5 pm to 10 pm at Santana Row
  • August 9 – Denver from 3 pm to 9 pm at Red Rocks Amphitheater
  • August 10 – Baltimore from 10 am to 8 pm at Inner Harbor
  • August 14 – Chicago from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm at Magnificent Mile
  • August 18 – San Diego from 8 am to 2 pm at Little Italy

There are so many options for you to stop by the Southwest booth to meet some great people, learn more about the Southwest Priority card and win some great prizes.

Can You Upgrade to the Southwest Priority Card?

There are targeted upgrade offers being sent to select consumer cardholders of a Southwest credit card. It is expected that the upgrade offers will eventually roll out to everyone who meets eligible credit criteria.

But should you upgrade?

When you upgrade, reports indicate that you’ll receive 5,000 Rapid Rewards points for upgrading and making at least one purchase before September 30, 2018.

If you aren’t ready to apply for a new credit card, you should upgrade to the new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card. You’ll get more perks right away, including a $75 annual travel credit that more than offsets the small increase in annual fee.

How to Get the Most Out of the Southwest Priority Card

This new Southwest Priority card offers a lot of value that is worth spending an extra $50 (over the Premier) to $80 (over the Plus). With the value of the additional anniversary points and the $75 annual Southwest Airlines travel credit, that more than makes up for the increased annual fee before factoring in the value of four priority boarding passes and 20% discount on in-flight purchases.

The best approach is to earn 40,000 bonus points by applying for the new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months. You can earn up to 65,000 bonus points if you spend a total of $15,000 within the first year. That’s only $1,250 per month! Most of us can do that in our sleep.

Bottom Line: Get the Southwest Priority Card

Getting the new Southwest Priority card is a much better option than upgrading your current Southwest Premier or Plus card and only receiving 5,000 bonus points. The big caveat is that the Southwest credit cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 Rule.

If you have opened more than 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months, you’ll need to wait until you are below 5/24 or just pull the trigger now and upgrade if you want the new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card.

I’m over 5/24 and have had the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card for years. I’ll be upgrading my card right away.

Will you upgrade to the new Southwest Priority card? If you don’t already have a Southwest credit card, do the enhanced benefits make you want to sign up?

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