By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Southwest Airlines has introduced a new Rapid Rewards Priority Card to add to its fleet of credit cards. This new card is the third Southwest Airlines credit card on the market, but we suspect that one of the three may go off the market in the near future. (More on that in a moment.)
Let’s look at the features of the Southwest Priority Card first, then we’ll compare and contrast it with the other Southwest credit cards.
The new Southwest Airlines Priority Card is a Visa credit card issued in partnership with Chase. It offers the following points reward formula:
- 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases as well as on purchases from Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
- 1 point per dollar everywhere else
- You’ll get 40,000 bonus points if you spent $1000 with the card in the first three months of having it.
- You’ll get an additional 25,000-point bonus if you use the card for at least $15,000 worth of purchases in the first year of having it.
- You’ll earn 7500 points on your card anniversary each year.
- You’ll get a $75 travel credit on Southwest purchases annually (but not on in-flight drinks or Upgraded Boarding, so mostly for actual ticket purchases or extra checked bags/oversized bags)
- 4 Upgraded Boarding reimbursements per year, so you pay for upgrades initially but get reimbursed
- 20% discount (reimbursement actually) on in-flight drinks, Wi-Fi, movies
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases outside of the United States.
- 1500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 charged to the card (up to $100,000 in purchases per year/15,000 tier qualifying points). Note that reaching A-List status requires 35,000 points or 25 one-way flights on Southwest.
How Does It Compare?
There are two other Southwest Airlines credit cards on the market. Here’s how they compare to the new Priority credit card:
- Plus Card: $69 annual fee, same points structure on purchases (2 points per dollar on Southwest + partners, 1 point everywhere else) and same 40,000-point bonus opportunity upfront. However, this card offers only 3000 points on your card anniversary (vs. 7500 with Priority Card) and it does not offer the 25,000-point bonus opportunity for spending $15,000 in the first year and it does not offer the $75 travel credit or the reimbursements on Upgraded Boarding or the 20% discount on in-flight purchases or the tier qualifying points. It also does charge an extra 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases outside of the U.S.
- Premier Card: $99 annual fee, same points structure on purchases (2 points per dollar on Southwest + partners, 1 point everywhere else) and same 40,000-point bonus opportunity upfront. However, this card offers 6000 points on your card anniversary (vs. 7500 with Priority Card) and it does not offer the 25,000-point bonus opportunity for spending $15,000 in the first year and it does not offer the $75 travel credit or the reimbursements on Upgraded Boarding or the 20% discount on in-flight purchases. It does offer the same 1500 tier qualifying points as the Priority Card and, like the Priority Card, it does waive any extra fees on foreign transactions outside of the U.S.
Premier Card To Disappear?
In looking at the marketing of the new Southwest Airlines Priority Card, it is clear that Southwest has decided to compare it with the $69 annual fee Plus Card and not the $99 annual fee Premier Card. This makes sense because the differences between the new Priority Card and the Plus Card are greater than the differences between the new card and the $99 Premier Card. On the Southwest website, the Premier Card is listed below the other two cards, almost as an afterthought. They are clearly de-emphasizing the $99 Premier Card, which makes us believe that the Premier Card may go bye-bye in the near future.
The new Southwest Airlines Priority credit card clearly offers extra benefits for people that fly Southwest and at least occasionally actually pay for their Southwest tickets. If you are a paying Southwest customer, the extra $75 travel credit and Upgraded Boarding reimbursements in particular could make this card worth the cost.
On the other hand, if you want a Southwest Airlines credit card specifically to earn points toward the occasional free ticket and you rarely would actually pay for a Southwest ticket, then the Priority Card won’t make sense for you. In that case, you would be better off sticking with the $69 annual fee Southwest Plus credit card.