Performance or Premier: Which Southwest Business Credit Card Is Right for You?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The recent launch of the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card creates an awesome problem for consumers: how do you decide which of Southwest's awesome business credit cards to apply for? One of the most popular strategies for earning Southwest's famed Companion Pass involves applying for one personal and one business card in short succession to earn the necessary 125,000 points and free flights for your companion for a year (or more). Today we're going to take a look at how this newcomer stacks up and help you answer the important question of "which Southwest business credit card is right for you?"
Comparing the Performance and Premier Business Cards
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card|
|Sign-up bonus||80,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months||60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months|
|Earning rates||3x on Southwest purchases, along with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
2x on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services
1x everywhere else
|2x points on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
1x everywhere else
|Anniversary bonus points||9,000||6,000|
|Elite qualifying benefits||Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually||Earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points annually|
|Perks & statement credits||Four A1-A15 boarding passes per year when available
Up to 365 $8 Inflight Wi-Fi credits per year (covers all-day passes)
Up to $100 every 4 years to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
When comparing an entry-level card to its premium competition, the key question to ask yourself is "do the increased benefits outweigh the additional cost of the annual fee?" In this case, the Southwest Performance Business costs $100 more each year than the Southwest Premier Business, so that's the threshold for added benefits it needs to be worth it.
The Performance starts strong by offering 9,000 bonus points on your account anniversary vs. 6,000 with the Premier. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, and since Southwest uses a revenue-based award pricing scheme, you should be able to score this exact redemption value without any real work. Those extra 3,000 points are worth $45, narrowing the gap between these cards to just $55.
The next standout benefit of the Performance card is the Wi-Fi credit. Essentially you can buy an $8 day pass every day of the year, or at least as many days as you actually fly Southwest. For business travelers who value their time, this is a great perk, and one that can be incredibly valuable. If you fly Southwest just eight times per year, your Wi-Fi credits would come out to $64 and completely negate the remaining higher annual fee of the Performance card.
If you fly more than that, the choice becomes even clearer. The Performance card also comes with four space-available A1-A15 priority boarding passes. Southwest charges between $30-$50 per round-trip flight for these, so even on the low end, this represents $120 a year in additional savings.
The Performance card also has noticeably better bonus categories, but that only means so much. 3x points on Southwest flights and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners is nice, but you could earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points (which are much more valuable) by using a Chase Sapphire Reserve, or 5x Membership Rewards points using The Platinum Card® from American Express (when booking directly with the airline or via Amex Travel; up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Even the business friendly 2x categories would be better if you charged them to an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and earned 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year).
Of course, there's still a compelling case to opt for the Southwest Premier instead. If you fly Southwest occasionally but not frequently, you might not be able to get the full value out of the Performance's perks. There's also something to be said for keeping your cash costs down, and business owners will have a way easier time justifying a $99 annual fee than a $199 annual fee.
Should You Get Both?
Chase was one of the first credit card issuers to institute "family restrictions" that prevented you from getting multiple bonuses for similar cards. For example, you can't get a bonus on the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you've gotten one on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in the last 48 months.
Chase has a similar restriction on the three personal Southwest credit cards it issues, noting the following:
"The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products."
The good news is that this restriction does not apply to the Southwest business cards (at least not yet). This means that you should be able to apply for both the Performance Business and the Premier Business. While these cards are restricted by Chase's 5/24 rule (meaning you can't get approved if you're over 5/24), applying for a business card usually doesn't add to your 5/24 total.
There's a real incentive for someone to get both of these cards, and to do so as quickly as possible. If you add up the welcome bonuses on these two cards, you'll walk away with 140,000 Rapid Rewards points... and about a year and a half of the famed Companion Pass! You need 125,000 points to earn the Companion Pass, and the points earned from these bonuses count. This is a huge development, as the normal combination of one personal and one business credit card leaves you with only 100,000 points, requiring you to come up with the last 25,000 by yourself.
No matter which Southwest card you decide to apply for, the launch of the Southwest Performance Business card can only be seen as good news. Now small businesses have one more option to choose from when looking for a credit card, and it's a very compelling option. The higher annual fee can easily be made up for between the 9,000 anniversary bonus points, the daily $8 Wi-Fi credit and the business-friendly bonus categories. If you're trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass this year, applying for both the Performance and Premier might be the fastest way to do it.