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How To Use Southwest Credit Card Upgraded Boarding Credits [2023]

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Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

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Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...
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Southwest Airlines is a favorite among many travelers. However, plenty of others don’t love the airline’s unique boarding process, which involves boarding positions instead of seat assignments. One of the best ways to circumvent the process and ensure you’ll get your pick of the best seats is with Southwest’s Upgraded Boarding.

Upgraded Boarding gets you an A1 to A15 position, and the best part is that select Southwest credit cards come with Upgraded Boarding credits.

In this article, we’ll talk about what Upgraded Boarding is, how to use it, and how to use the Upgraded Boarding credits that come with selected Southwest credit cards.

Let’s get to the details.

What Is Southwest Upgraded Boarding?

Upgraded Boarding is the best way to ensure your first choice of seats on a Southwest Airlines flight. When you purchase it, you’ll be assigned a boarding position in the range of A1 to A15.

Southwest A1 Boarding Position
Upgraded Boarding gets you into the coveted A1 to A15 boarding positions. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

There are 2 ways to get upgraded A1 to A15 boarding on Southwest.

  • Purchase a Business Select fare
  • Purchase Upgraded Boarding beginning 24 hours before departure

Upgraded Boarding can be purchased online at Southwest.com, in the Southwest mobile app, at a ticket counter, or at the gate up to 30 minutes before departure.

Prices start at $30 per segment per person, and a segment is any single flight. If you have a layover and are taking 2 separate flights or segments, you must purchase Upgraded Boarding for each flight separately.

Upgraded Boarding vs. EarlyBird Check-In

If you’re unfamiliar with Southwest’s unique boarding process, understanding the difference between Upgraded Boarding and EarlyBird Check-In can be confusing.

EarlyBird Check-In automatically checks you in for your flight starting 36 hours ahead of time, but there is no guarantee you’ll get an A boarding position. Anytime fares automatically come with EarlyBird Check-In, while passengers with Wanna Get Away Plus or Wanna Get Away fares can purchase it at the time of booking or up to 36 hours before departure.

Upgraded Boarding means a guaranteed A1 to A15 boarding position. It comes automatically with Business Select fares or can be purchased 24 hours before departure. Only 15 of these slots are available on a flight, and once they are sold out, the ability to acquire Upgraded Boarding is removed.

A customer with EarlyBird Check-In but wants a higher boarding position can still purchase Upgraded Boarding.

Bottom Line:

Upgraded Boarding and EarlyBird Check-In are 2 different ways to secure a better boarding position on Southwest Airlines. Upgraded Boarding, which guarantees an A1 to A15 position, is superior to EarlyBird Check-In, which checks you in automatically but doesn’t guarantee an A boarding position. However, it’s more limited, so there’s always a chance it will be sold out.

Which Southwest Cards Come With Upgraded Boarding?

There are 2 cards that come with Upgraded Boarding credits — the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.
Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn Companion Pass® plus 30,000 points
$390
$149
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most premium personal Southwest card offering from Chase. When you peel back the curtain, it is easy to see why.

Not only does the card offer multiple bonus categories to help you earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points, but it is also loaded with benefits that are sure to offer quite a bit of value to Southwest flyers.

Here is a full overview of the card to help you decide if it is a good fit for your wallet.

Pros

  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshare purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases
  • 1x point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 7,500 points each year on your cardmember anniversary
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • 1,500 tier qualifying points towards elite status for every $10,000 spent
  • Travel and purchase protection

Cons

  • $149 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable points
  • Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Southwest frequent flyers will love the upgraded boarding positions, inflight Wi-Fi credits, and bonus points on each cardmember anniversary.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest frequent flyers will love the upgraded boarding positions, inflight Wi-Fi credits, and bonus points on each cardmember anniversary.
Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
80,000 points
$1,040
$199
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is a phenomenal option for business owners who are Southwest frequent flyers. It helps you earn more points on all of your business expenses, offers upgraded boarding certificates and Wi-Fi credits, and helps you reach higher levels of Southwest elite status. 

Pros

  • 4x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases
  • 3x points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
  • 2x points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2x points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare services
  • 9,000 bonus points each year after your cardmember anniversary
  • Up to 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits per year
  • 4 Upgraded Boarding certificates per year
  • Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points towards Southwest status for every $10,000 spent on the card
  • Up to a $500 fee credit for points transfers when you use your card to transfer points to another Southwest Rapid Rewards member
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/NEXUS credit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Purchase protection

Cons

  • $199 annual fee
  • Doesn’t earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earn 4X pts on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points on rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Each of these cards comes with 4 Upgraded Boardings per anniversary year (based on your statement closing date, not the date you were approved for your credit card.) Upgraded Boarding starts at $30 per segment, so this benefit is valued at ~$120. This perk is an excellent bonus of having either card.

Other Southwest credit cards may offer EarlyBird Check-In credits, but these are not the same as Upgraded Boarding.

Bottom Line:

The Southwest Priority card and the Southwest Performance Business card each come with 4 Upgraded Boarding credits per anniversary year, which can be used to purchase A1-A15 boarding positions.

How To Check Your Upgraded Boarding Credits

If you don’t keep detailed records, you may be unsure how many available Upgraded Boarding credits you have. Don’t worry — it’s easy to check!

From your Chase credit card account, navigate to More and then the Rewards dashboard.

Checking Southwest Credit Card Upgraded Boarding credits
You can check how many Upgraded Boardings you have left in your online account. Image Credit: Chase

You’ll see an easy-to-read graphic that lets you know exactly how many Upgraded Boarding credits you have left for the year.

Southwest credit card Upgraded Boardings tracker
This tracker lets you know how many Upgraded Boarding credits you have left for the year. Image Credit: Chase

How To Use Southwest Upgraded Boarding Credits

Using your Southwest credit card’s Upgraded Boarding credits is quick and easy. The Southwest Priority card and the Southwest Performance Business card each come with 4 Upgraded Boardings per year.

These can stack, so you would have 8 Upgraded Boardings per year if you have both cards.

Southwest Upgraded boarding
Upgraded Boarding can be purchased starting at $30 per segment. Image Credit: Southwest

To use your Upgraded Boarding credits, you only need to use your eligible card to purchase Upgraded Boarding. Then, you’ll see a credit for the charge posted to your statement automatically — there’s no need to register or submit anything.

Southwest credit card upgraded boarding credit
The Upgraded Boarding credit will be posted to your account automatically. Image Credit: Chase

The credit can take up to 8 weeks to post, but in my experience, it posts quickly, often within a day or 2 of the charge.

There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when purchasing Upgraded Boarding:

  • There are only 15 slots available, and once they sell out, you won’t be able to purchase Upgraded Boarding.
  • Each Upgraded Boarding credit is good for 1 flight for 1 person only. If you have a layover and want to upgrade both segments, you’ll use up 2 Upgraded Boarding credits. Similarly, if you want to upgrade 2 people on 1 flight, you’ll use 2 Upgraded Boarding credits.
  • If you change or cancel your flight, the cost of Upgraded Boarding will not be refunded.
  • If you travel with others, they cannot board with you unless they also have an A1 to A15 boarding position.

Final Thoughts

Only 2 Southwest credit cards come with 4 Upgrading Boarding credits each— the Southwest Priority card and the Southwest Performance Business card. Each boarding credit is worth at least $30, making this a valuable and easy-to-use perk of having these cards.

All you need to do is use your eligible Southwest credit card to purchase Upgraded Boarding starting 24 hours before departure, and the cost will be automatically credited to your account. Then, you’ll get to enjoy A1 to A15 boarding on your Southwest flight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Southwest Upgraded Boarding the same as EarlyBird Check-In?

No, Southwest Upgraded Boarding and EarlyBird Check-In are different. Upgraded Boarding guarantees an A1 to A15 boarding position. It comes with Business Select fares or can be purchased starting 24 hours ahead of departure. EarlyBird Check-In automatically checks you in beginning 36 hours before departure but does not guarantee any specific boarding position. It comes with Anytime fares or can be purchased up to 36 hours before departure.

How does Upgraded Boarding work with Southwest?

Upgraded Boarding guarantees an A1 to A15 boarding position. If you don’t have a Business Select ticket (which comes with Upgraded Boarding automatically), you can purchase Upgraded Boarding beginning 24 hours ahead of departure via Southwest’s mobile app, website, ticket counter, or gate.

How do I get A1 to A15 on Southwest?

There are 2 ways to get A1 to A15 on Southwest. First, you can purchase a Business Select ticket, which comes with priority A1 to A15 boarding automatically. Alternatively, you can purchase Upgraded Boarding beginning 24 hours before departure when available. Since there are only 15 of these slots available, it can sell out so it’s best to purchase it as soon as you check in instead of waiting until you get to the airport.

Which credit cards come with Southwest Upgraded Boarding credits?

There are 2 credit cards that come with Upgraded Boarding credits — the Southwest Priority card and the Southwest Performance Business card. Each one comes with 4 Upgraded Boarding credits per year.

Do you get free Upgraded Boarding with a Southwest credit card?

Yes, the Southwest Priority card and the Southwest Performance Business card each come with 4 Upgraded Boarding credits per card member year. You’ll need to purchase Upgraded Boarding using your card, and a credit will be automatically applied to your account.

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About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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