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Along with high rewards for flights, the 2X points on business expenses makes this an all around winner
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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.
Generous sign-up bonus easily offsets the card’s high annual fee for the first year
An excellent rewards rate for Southwest purchases and a range of other popular business expenses make this Southwest card better than ever
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—the best yearly bonus on a Southwest card
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
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