Is the New Chase Southwest Priority Card Any Good?

Southwest Priority card

Click for the direct link to the offer

You know I hate keeping people in suspense, so…


The funny (and sad) thing — the Southwest Priority Card could’ve been an excellent product that you’d love to keep for years to come. It could’ve been the card you’d never take out of your wallet. Instead, you’re just getting another dud.

OK, maybe “dud” is a little too harsh, but you’ve got my meaning.

Every time a major bank issues yet another card with a high sign-up bonus, the blogosphere is abuzz. This time is no exception – it’s a 65,000-point card after all; what’s not to like?

Well, there are plenty of things not to like about this card. The first of them being that it’s a 5/24 card, so if you have been serious about getting free travel for at least the last 2-3 years, the chances are you’re not eligible.

As to other things I don’t particularly like about this card, let’s take a closer look.

Southwest Priority Card Notable Benefits

  • 65,000-point bonus
  • 7,500 anniversary points each cardmember year
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit each cardmember year
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases (drinks, WiFi, movies)

Southwest Priority Card Notable Drawbacks

  • $149 annual fee
  • You only get 40,000 points after $1K/1mths, must spend $14,000 more for the rest of them (25,000) during the first year
  • Lousy earning rates:
    • 2x on Southwest and travel partner purchases
    • 1x on all other purchases

And now — the rant!

OK, let’s make it clear: it’s not the annual fee that’s bothering me. It’s the patently annoying industry trend to make customers spend and spend and f#%@&*^ spend to get their bonuses. I would love to see this strategy backfire and burn just enough marketing executives so that they do away with this stupidity for good!

Basically, Chase and Southwest are saying to their customers: look, we know our product has a sh*tty earning scheme, and you might not want to put money on it due to the poor returns, but we’ll just dangle this carrot in front of you to try and make you feel better!

Yes, I understand, you want to “potty-train” your customers to use your card. Yes, I’ve got it – you want to prevent them from sticking your product in a sock after getting the bonus. But if this is the case, make them want to keep spending money on your card. Make the card purchasing power more appealing. Barclays JetBlue pays 6x(!) points on JetBlue purchases and 2x at restaurants and grocery stores; that is the card people want to keep in their wallets and actually use. You, on the other hand, are making people jump through draconian spending hoops while offering a barely adequate earning scheme. There are bound to be legions of annoyed and disappointed customers who will be royally pissed when they fail to meet the $15,000 threshold.

No wonder Chase and Southwest feel they have to go on a tour to sell it. Sure, more gimmicks please!

Southwest Priority card

But what if I have no problem meeting the spend?

Think about it this way. By spending $14,000 on this card you forgo better earning opportunities. $14,000 can earn you an easy $280 with Citi Double Cash or $420 with Discover Miles and a couple of other cards if you look hard enough (in the first year). Let’s do a simple exercise to see if earning these 25,000 points really makes sense to you. Take a lowly 2x cashback card.

  • $14,000 = 39,000 Southwest points (25,000 plus 1x).
  • $14,000 = $280.

Now ask yourself: would you buy 39,000 Southwest points for $280 outright?

I’m not saying it can never be a value proposition, but if your answer is no, then I guess you’re not going for the additional 25,000-mile bonus. In that case, ask yourself if the initial 41,000-point bonus is worth $169 ($149 annual fee plus $20 because you lose $20 by spending $1,000 on this card instead of an easy 2x cashback card).

What’s so special about this card’s other benefits that you can’t get with the Plus or the Premier.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite possible that your answers to these questions would be a resounding “yes” or that you can earn more than 1x on your spend! Here are some hypothetical situations when you might want to get the Chase Southwest Priority Credit Card.

  • You’re a very frequent Southwest flyer.
  • You’re working on getting your Companion Pass.
  • You’re maximizing the number of Chase credit cards, and this is the only Chase credit card left that you’re interested in.
  • You value 4 upgraded boardings — a lot!

Otherwise, I just don’t see the appeal.

Do you?

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