- Rewards rate: Earn 4X points on Southwest purchases, 3X points on participating hotel and car rental 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 from account opening.
- Annual fee: $199
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 21.49 percent to 28.49 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 from account opening.
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.
How you earn
As a cardholder, you’ll earn 4X points on Southwest purchases and 3X points on those made with participating hotel and rental car partners, and 2X points 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 2X points on social media and search engine advertising as well as internet, cable and phone services along with 1X points 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 flies 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 Rapid Rewards points are worth an average of 1.5 cents per point — the most valuable among domestic airlines.
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.