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Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card review: The premier business card for Southwest enthusiasts

Along with high rewards for flights, the 2X points on business expenses makes this an all around winner

 /  9 min
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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Snapshot

4.7

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5

Bottom line

Thanks to an impressive rewards rate for Southwest purchases and generous perks, small-business owners who frequently fly Southwest have a lot to gain with this card. But the high annual fee may be hard to justify if you don’t fly often and don’t take advantage of the card’s additional benefits.
Image of Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Apply now Lock
On Chase's secure site

Rewards rate

1X - 4X
Info

Annual fee

$199

Intro offer

80,000 points
Info

Regular APR

20.24% - 27.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Overview

If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer who owns your own business, flies for business purposes or has employees who book travel with a credit card you provide them, the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card could be just the card you need. It comes loaded with features, including a big welcome bonus, anniversary points, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and frequent flyer perks like four upgraded boardings per year.

However, if you aren’t one of Southwest Airline’s most loyal customers, or you don’t plan to become a frequent Southwest frequent flyer, then you might want to opt for another airline’s card or a general business travel rewards card with more flexible points or miles redemptions.

 

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Generous sign-up bonus easily offsets the card’s high annual fee for the first year

  • Checkmark

    An excellent rewards rate for Southwest purchases and a range of other popular business expenses make this Southwest card better than ever

  • Checkmark

    Qualify for elite perks like in-flight Wi-Fi credits, early boardings, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and free employee cards

  • Checkmark

    9,000 points on your cardmember anniversary—the best yearly bonus on a Southwest card

Cons

  • High $199 annual fee may be difficult to offset for anyone not taking advantage of the perks and benefits

  • Limited redemption options

  • Not as good for general travel if you’re not primarily a Southwest flyer

  • Doesn’t offer the strongest travel protections and benefits

  • No airport lounge access perks

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: Earn 4X points on Southwest purchases, 3X points on participating hotel and rental car partners, 2X points on local transit, rideshares, commuting, 2X points on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Annual fee: $199
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 20.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable APR

Current welcome offer

The sign-up bonus alone is a compelling reason to apply, especially if you have a lot of monthly business expenses. Once you sign up, you get the chance to earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Based on Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations, we estimate Southwest points are worth 1.5 cents on average. That makes this offer worth $1,200, which more than covers the card’s annual fee for the first year.

While 80,000 points could easily be enough for a round-trip domestic flight or a flight to Mexico or the Caribbean, this offer is also extremely useful if you’re trying to pursue the Southwest Companion Pass. The pass allows you to choose one person to fly with you for only the cost of taxes and fees for the rest of the year that you earn it, plus the entire next year.

Since you need to complete 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 135,000 Southwest qualifying points within a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass benefit, this card’s bonus offer can get you most of the way there.

Rewards rate

This business credit card offers a lucrative bonus offer that makes it worth signing up for, but it is definitely geared to consumers who spend a lot of money on flights.

How you earn

As a cardholder, you’ll earn 4 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 3 points on those made with participating hotel and rental car partners, plus 2 points per dollar on rideshares, commuting and local transit. If you spend a lot on other purchases for your business, you’ll be happy to know you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services along with 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Also, keep in mind that there are other ways to earn Southwest points, including the Southwest dining rewards program. Southwest even has its own shopping portal that lets you earn bonus points in the program when you click through the portal and make purchases with participating retailers online.

These are relatively solid rates for a card in this price range, but it is particularly valuable in the hands of a cardholder who flys often. Although you’ll earn rewards for purchases in other categories, there are more affordable options to maximize your rewards strategy in those categories. A $199 annual fee, while easily offset with the card’s welcome offer, will be difficult to offset on an ongoing basis.

How to redeem

You’ll get the most value out of your Southwest points when you redeem them for flights. Southwest has a fare-based rewards program, meaning that flights on sale or for lower prices cost fewer points than those not on sale. Either way, you can use Southwest Rapid Rewards points to book flights within the continental United States, to and from Hawaii and to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Southwest lets you book one-way flights with rewards and they promise no blackout dates. If there’s a seat on the plane, you can book it with points.

Although Southwest may be considered a budget airline, it offers a few great benefits for all travelers. All Southwest flights come with your first two checked bags free and no change fees. That means you won’t be charged an additional fee to change an upcoming flight itinerary—you just pay the difference in ticket cost.

How much are rewards worth?

Bankrate estimates that Southwest RapidRewards points are worth an average of 1.5 cents per point — the most valuable among domestic airlines. 

Rewards program Bankrate value* Estimated value of 50,000 points/miles
Southwest Rapid Rewards 1.5 cents $750
JetBlue TrueBlue 1.4 cents $700
Delta SkyMiles 1.4 cents $650
United Airlines Mileage Plus 1.1 cents $550
Alaska Airlines Mileaege Plan 1.1 cents $550
American Airlines AAdvantage 1 cent $500
Just remember that, like with many airline mile redemptions, award taxes and fees are charged on top of the points or miles required, and your actual point value may vary based on factors like your destination and travel date.

Other cardholder perks

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business comes with a higher annual fee than some other airline credit cards, but you get plenty of valuable perks in return. For some, these cardholder benefits can make paying the annual fee on this card a good deal for the first year and beyond. However, those who don’t fly often will struggle to make the most of these benefits.

Anniversary points

Every year you renew your Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card and pay the $199 annual fee, you’ll get 9,000 anniversary points added to your account. Since these points are worth approximately 1.5 cents each, the value of this bonus is $135.

In-flight Wi-Fi credits

You’ll also get up to 365 in-flight Wi-Fi credits per year. Normally, internet access on Southwest flights will set you back $8 per day, per device. So this credit can help you save considerable sums of money, especially if you fly Southwest frequently.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit

Like other popular travel credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card gives cardholders a statement credit good for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership. This credit is good for up to $100, and you can use it to renew a membership every four years.

Four upgraded boardings

You’ll also get four upgraded boardings per year every year you’re a cardmember. Since Southwest uses a unique boarding process with no assigned seats, getting on the plane early gives you a much better chance at getting the seat you want.

Earn tier-qualifying points

If you’re interested in earning A-List status with Southwest Airlines, then you’ll be happy to know this card lets you earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) toward elite status with this airline—1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 you spend on purchases (no limit to TQPs earned this way).

Rates and fees

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card charges a $199 annual fee, but other fees associated with this card are easy to avoid. There are no foreign transaction fees or returned check fees to be aware of. If you pay your balance in full each month, you won’t have to worry about the card’s variable APR of 19.74 percent to 26.74 percent. 

However, you should watch out for late payment fees and returned payment fees, both of which will set you back $39. If you decide to transfer a balance to this card for any reason, you’ll pay a 5 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $5). Lastly, if you make a late payment, you could end up with a default APR of 29.99 percent, which could last indefinitely.

How the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business compares to other travel credit cards for business

There are several options to consider when looking for a business travel card. Each of them are uniquely suited to certain spenders, travelers or business owners. The right one for you will depend on rewards rates, value and other benefits. Here’s how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card compares to similar airline credit cards and business credit cards.

Image of Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$199

Intro offer

80,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 4X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$99

Intro offer

60,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info
Image of Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
On Chase's secure site

Annual fee

$95

Intro offer

100,000 points
Info

Rewards rate

1X - 3X
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card vs. Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

If you don’t feel comfortable paying $199 per year for an airline credit card for your business but still want a co-branded Southwest credit card, consider the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. This card will cost you just $99 per year, yet you’ll earn a generous sign-up bonus as well as a similar rewards rate.

You won’t get elite perks like in-flight Wi-Fi credits or a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and you’ll only get two complimentary EarlyBird Check-In® boarding upgrades each year instead of four upgraded boardings through Southwest. Still, the annual cost is cut in half with this card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card vs Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

In addition to Southwest cards, you should also consider flexible business credit cards. Specifically, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card due to its sign-up bonus and the fact you can transfer points from this card to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.

The Ink Business Preferred lets you earn points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which also lets you redeem for cash back, gift cards, statement credits and merchandise. You can also redeem points for travel through the Chase portal and get 25 percent more value when you do. Plus, you can transfer points to not only Southwest but also to partners like Emirates, IHG Rewards, British Airways and more. Also, note that the Ink Business Preferred’s annual fee will only set you back $95 per year versus Southwest Rapid Performance card’s $199 fee.

 

Best cards to pair with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

If you decide to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card, pairing it with a travel credit card from Chase is a no-brainer since Southwest is one of its transfer partners. Having a Chase business card that lets you transfer points will make it easier for you to earn the rewards you need for the flights you want or even “top up” your Southwest account when you’re short some miles for a rewards booking. Just keep in mind that you have to transfer points from Chase to Southwest in increments of 1,000 points.

The Ink Business Preferred would be helpful for shipping purchases, travel outside of Southwest and its hotel and rental car partners, but the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card could also be a good option for all other purchases thanks to its 1.5 percent flat-rate cash back on all of your other business expenses (which are technically earned as transferrable Ultimate Rewards points).

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card worth it?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business can easily be worth it if you often travel with Southwest, stay at its partner hotels, use rental car services and want access to some frequent flyer perks. With 4 points per dollar on Southwest purchases plus excellent rewards on a variety of other popular business expenses, this card can be a stellar choice if you want the best perks and rewards available for Southwest Airlines travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer

Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.

Edited by Credit Card Reviews Writer
Reviewed by Editor, Product

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.