Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card review

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Holly D. Johnson Twitter logo @ClubThrifty  in  Airline How we rate our cards  | 

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Annual Fee:
$199
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.99% - 22.99% Variable
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Best for business travelers who fly Southwest

  • Rewards rate: Earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases including participating hotel and rental car partners, 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per dollar on everything else
  • Welcome offer: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual fee: $199
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable APR

If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer who owns your own business or flies for business purposes, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card is hard to beat. Not only can you score a big welcome bonus, but you can get frequent flyer perks like four upgraded boardings per year, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership, free employee cards and no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get 9,000 points on your cardmember anniversary every year, which can make renewing your card a pretty sweet deal.

Current sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus alone is a compelling reason to apply, and that’s especially true if you have a lot of business expenses you can charge to your credit card. Once you sign up, you get the chance to earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

While 80,000 points could easily be enough for a round-trip domestic flight or 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 remainder of the year you earn it and the entire next year.

Since you need to complete 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 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 structure

This 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.

Earning points

As a cardholder, you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, including those made with participating hotel and rental car partners. If you spend a lot on other purchases for your business, you’ll also 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 and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

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.

Redeeming points

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 less while higher cost itineraries cost more. Either way, you can use Southwest Rapid Rewards points to book flights within the United States, to and from Hawaii and to Mexico and the Caribbean.

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

And while 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 points worth?

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth approximately 1.5 cents each, which means a flight for $225 would set you back around 15,000 points. This is a slightly better redemption value than you’ll find with other airline programs like American AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles. Just remember that, like with all airline mile redemptions, award taxes and fees are charged on top of the points or miles required.

Benefits

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card does come with a higher annual fee than some other airline credit cards, but you get plenty of valuable perks in return. These cardholder benefits can make paying the annual fee on this card a good deal for the first year and beyond.

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, which can help you save considerable sums of money if you fly Southwest a lot and you frequently pay for internet access. Normally, internet access on Southwest flights will set you back $8 per day, so this perk could be worth $160 per year if you only use it 20 times. Obviously, it would be worth a lot more than that depending on how often you could take advantage.

Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit

Like other popular travel credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business 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 and 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 good toward elite status with this airline.

Rates and fees

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business does charge 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. 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 also pay a 5 percent balance transfer fee (minimum $5).

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

If your goal is earning travel rewards with a business credit card, there are many good options to consider. The following chart shows how the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business compares to similar airline credit cards and business credit cards that let you earn rewards for Southwest.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Sign-up bonus Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $15,000 on your card within three months of account opening
Rewards rate Earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases including hotel and rental car participating partners, 2 points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per dollar on everything else Earn 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases and 1 point per dollar on everything else Earn 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet cable and phone services, and advertising with social media sites and search engines (then 1X points), as well as 1X points on other purchases

 

Redemption options Redeem rewards for Southwest flights as well as rental cars and other rewards if you’re a cardholder Redeem rewards for Southwest flights as well as rental cars and other rewards if you’re a cardholder Redeem rewards for cash back, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, travel through Chase or 1:1 transfers to airline and hotel partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt
Annual fee $199 $99 $95

If you don’t feel comfortable paying $199 per year for an airline credit card for your business but you still want a co-branded Southwest credit card, then you may want to 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 points for each dollar you spend on your card. You won’t get elite perks like in-flight Wi-Fi credits or a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, but the annual cost is cut in half with this card.

In the meantime, also make sure you’re considering flexible business credit cards in addition to Southwest cards. Specifically, consider the Chase Ink Business Preferred® 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, and 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 will only set you back $95 per year.

Best cards to pair with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

If you do decide to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business, pairing it with a travel credit card from Chase is a real no-brainer. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® both offer lucrative earning structures and let you get 25 percent or 50 percent more value, respectively, when you redeem points for travel with Chase.

Both of these cards also let you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can use for all kinds of redemption options and 1:1 transfers to Southwest Airlines. Having a Chase credit 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 to “top up” your Southwest account when you’re short some miles for a redemption. Just keep in mind that you have to transfer points from Chase to Southwest in increments of 1,000 points.

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business worth it?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business can easily be worth it if you fly with Southwest a lot and you want access to some frequent flyer perks. With 3 points per dollar awarded on Southwest purchases, this card is also an excellent option if you want to earn as many points as possible.

Pros:

  • Generous sign-up bonus
  • Excellent rewards rate for Southwest purchases
  • Qualify for elite perks like in-flight Wi-Fi credits, early boardings, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck and free employee cards
  • 9,000 points on your cardmember anniversary

Cons:

  • High $199 annual fee
  • Limited redemption options