Review: Southwest Personal Credit Cards

 Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

 

Many view the Chase Southwest credit cards as a means to get the Southwest Companion Pass. But once you get the Companion Pass, are any of the Southwest personal cards worth holding in the long run? Below, we breakdown the benefits of Chase's three personal Southwest credit cards–the Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, and Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card.

Current Offers

The Priority, Premier, and Plus cards all have the same sign-up bonus currently. With any of the three cards, you can earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months from accounting opening. You can then earn another 50,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points after spending another $10,000 in the first 12 months from account opening. That's 100,000 points for $12,000 spend. This is a lot of spend, but it's nice to see it split into two separate thresholds.

For purposes of getting the Southwest Companion Pass, any of these three cards can help you in the same way since they all have the same sign-up bonus.

The Priority card has a $149 annual fee. The Premier card comes with us $99 annual fee. The Plus card has a $69 annual fee.

Application Rules

As with any other Chase card, you cannot qualify for either card if you have opened more than 5 credit cards with any bank in the last 24 months. In addition, you cannot open a new Southwest personal card if you already hold a personal Southwest card. If you have a Southwest personal card, you must close it before applying for a new personal card. This rule applies across the different Southwest personal cards. This is different than for Southwest's business cards, which you can have more than one.

As for the sign-up bonus, you will not qualify for a bonus if you have received a sign-up bonus from a Southwest personal card within the last 24 months.

Earn Rates

The Priority and Premier cards have the same earning structure, shown below. Meanwhile, the Plus card only earns 2x on purchases with Southwest, which is 1 point per dollar less than the Priority and the Premier.

Rapid Rewards Priority Card

Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • 3x  on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2x on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • 3x  on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2x on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • 2x  on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 2x on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
  • 1x on all other purchases

Like the Southwest business cards, these personal cards are not great for earning points. For Southwest purchases, you would be better off earning transferable points currencies like Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points, or Membership Rewards than Southwest Rapid Rewards.

Benefits

Benefits and perks across the three cards differ based on each card's annual fee. The Priority card has more robust perks than either the Premier or the Plus.

Rapid Rewards Priority Card

Rapid Rewards Premier Card

Rapid Rewards Plus Card

Points earned every year on your cardmember anniversary 7,500 6,000 3,000
$75 Southwest annual travel credit

X

4 Upgraded Boardings when available

X

Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year X X
25% back on inflight purchases X X X
No foreign transaction fees X X
Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent X X

It's worth nothing that the Priority and the Premier cards can help earn Southwest status through spend. Earning 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 in spend can be help those near A-List or A-List Preferred status at the end of the year. That said, those earning status solely through spend is not a good deal with these cards. At this rate, cardholders would have to spend over $230,000 dollars in one year to achieve A-List. A-List Preferred requires twice as much!

Our Analysis

The Priority is definitely a keeper for regular Southwest flyers, as the card's many perks more than make up for its $149 annual fee. The $75 annual Southwest credit reduces the annual fee to $74. The 7,500 points on every anniversary can be more than enough for a free flight, given Southwest's regularly low prices. On top of all that, the 4 upgraded boarding passes alone are worth between $120 and $200 (upgraded boardings cost between $30 and $50 per flight).

The Premier‘s lower annual fee ($99) also means fewer benefits.  The card's two EarlyBird Check-Ins do have some value. Southwest charges up to $25 for an EarlyBird Check-In, giving this benefit a maximum $50 value per year. Meanwhile, the annual 6,000 points can still be enough for a free flight. If you use the EarlyBird Check-Ins for at their minimum $30 value, you are essentially buying the 6,000 anniversary points for $65 (1.15 cents each). This is a good deal for acquiring Southwest points, making this card a keeper as well, despite having fewer benefits.

Lastly, the Plus card offers similar perks as the Premier, like the two EarlyBird Check-Ins and 3,000 points every year. Like the Premier, the Plus card is worth the annual fee ($69) if you get decent use out of the EarlyBird Check-Ins. If you do, then you'll also be scoring 3,000 Southwest points for approximately $39 (1.3 cents each). We do note that the card incurs foreign transaction fees, unlike the Priority and the Premier. But since this card is unlikely to see much spend, we don't expect you would be bringing it abroad with you very often.

Final Thoughts

When you do the math, the Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, and Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card can each be considered a keeper for Southwest flyers. The Priority card's many perks more than justify its annual fee. Meanwhile, the Premier and the Plus can also be worth keeping if you get enough value out of the EarlyBird Check-Ins. No matter which card you select, they can all equally help you obtain the Southwest Companion Pass.

What do you think of the Southwest personal cards? How do these cards fit within your Companion Pass strategy? Come join the discussion in our Facebook group!

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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