Companion Pass with one card: Southwest Performance Business card review
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Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Credit Card Overview
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Credit Card is Southwest’s top-tier business credit card, offering 3x on Southwest and qualifying partner purchases and 2x across popular business categories. The annual fee is manageable for a premium credit card, and Southwest flyers will enjoy notable perks. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
While it can be hard for premium airline cards (especially business versions) to compete with standard travel credit cards because of high annual fees and fewer benefits, the newly-launched offer on the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card is compelling. The card provides expanded bonus categories that allow business owners to earn bonus points on everyday expenses, but right now, new cardholders can earn enough points to qualify for the coveted Southwest Companion Pass in a matter of months.
Let’s dive into the pros and cons of this business card.
Who is this card for?
The Southwest Performance Business Card acts as a step up from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, offering an impressive sign-up bonus, better rewards structure and a nice array of perks for loyal Southwest flyers. Those hoping to hit A-List status or earn a Companion Pass will get a lot of value out of the card, though it’s designed for businesses willing to pay a higher than normal annual fee.
Keep in mind that you do have to be a small business owner to apply for the card. While your business can be a thriving startup or a growing side hustle and you don’t necessarily need a physical office building or dozens of employees, Chase is typically on the stricter side when it comes to ensuring business card applicants are, in fact, actual small business owners.
Current sign-up offer — Companion Pass outright
Right now, you can earn up to 100,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points by signing up for the card — 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months and 30,000 additional points after spending $25,000 in the first six months. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth $1,500 by TPG valuations when you hit both tiers. To put that in perspective, that’s technically a (much) higher dollar value than you’ll get from the current Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus (though it’s also important to remember that the CSR offers more flexibility in how you can use that bonus).
Perhaps most importantly, however, if you can earn the full bonus as a new cardholder, you’ll be the proud owner of a Southwest Companion Pass, which is one of the most valuable benefits any airline offers to loyal customers. The typical requirements are flying at least 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, but points earned from Southwest credit cards — including sign-up bonuses — count as qualifying points.
As a result, if you sign-up for the card now and spend $25,000 within the first six months, you’ll have the following:
- Sign-up bonus: 100,000 points (70,000 + 30,000)
- Normal earning: at least 25,000 points ($25,000 x at least 1 point per dollar spent)
- Total earnings: 125,000 points
In other words, a new cardholder can earn the Companion Pass outright by meeting the minimum spending requirements to earn both tiers of the bonus.
Remember, once you earn a Companion Pass, it’s valid for the rest of the current calendar year and the entire following calendar year. So if you time your application and spending just right, you could have the pass for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021, giving your companion nearly two years of flying with you.
Related reading: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Main perks and benefits
The Southwest Performance Business Card comes with a $199 annual fee, but the perks that accompany the card make up for the cost if you take full advantage of them — even after the first year of card membership.
Four Upgraded Boardings — Each anniversary year, you’ll be reimbursed for up to four A1-A15 boarding passes, which allow you to be among the first to board. Because Southwest doesn’t assign seats, upgraded boarding lets you ensure you can grab the seat you want upfront (and have room in the overhead bins). Upgraded boarding passes are subject to availability.
9,000 Anniversary Bonus Points — Each year after your account anniversary, you’ll automatically receive 9,000 bonus points. That means you’re essentially getting $135 worth of points each year after the first year, just for being an active cardholder.
Inflight Wi-Fi Credits — Southwest will reimburse you for up to 365 $8 inflight Wi-Fi purchases in the form of a statement credit. In other words, you could purchase an all-day inflight Wi-Fi pass every single day of the year, and Southwest would cover it.
Points Boost — You’ll earn 1,500 TQPs per $10,000 you spend, with the opportunity to earn up to 15,000 TQPs each year.
Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ — Receive a statement credit (up to $100) for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee once every four years.
Free Employee Cards — You pay no fee for additional employee cards and will earn points on employee spending. You can set spending limits on employee cards by calling cardmember services.
While not specific to this card, remember that Southwest offers the following perks to all travelers:
Free Checked Bags — Your first and second checked bag always fly free.
No Change Fees — Southwest won’t charge you a fee for switching your flight itinerary — you’ll just be charged the fare difference when applicable. This even applies to award tickets, and changing your flights is very simple.
Free Cancellations — You won’t be charged a cancellation fee. Business Select and Anytime fares are refundable; Wanna Get Away fares are nonrefundable, but the full value of the flight may be applied toward future Southwest itineraries.
As the more premium business card option, the Performance Business card comes with a higher rewards earning rate than other Southwest card options. You’ll earn 3x points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases, including purchases made from Rapid Rewards hotel and car partners. You’ll also earn 2x points on social media and paid search advertising, internet, cable and phone services, plus the standard 1x point on everything else.
That’s a 4.5% return on Southwest purchases and a 3% return on eligible business purchases.
Also, as noted above, for every $10,000 you spend with the card, you’ll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) up to an annual maximum of 15,000 TQPs, which can help you hit A-List status faster.
Related reading: Complete guide to Southwest Airlines elite status
As with most cobranded airline cards, you’ll get the most value when you redeem your points for award travel. Because Southwest doesn’t have any domestic or international airline partners, you’re only getting maximum value when you redeem on Southwest-operated flights. Southwest has a simple redemption system: The more a flight costs in cash, the more it costs in points. While it’s less likely for you to find crazy deals, you’re also getting guaranteed value from your points.
Redeeming points for Southwest award flights is also a simple process. Just log in to your account, put in your search parameters on Southwest’s website, choose your desired available flight and follow the on-screen steps to check out. On international routes, you may have to pay additional taxes and fees, but Southwest is transparent about those throughout the search process. The airline also has a fantastic customer-friendly refund policy: You can change or cancel any award ticket at any time and get the points refunded for no fee at all, even when redeeming for the cheapest Wanna Get Away tickets.
Related reading: How to reprice a Southwest flight when the fare decreases
Southwest has a travel portal for international flights on other carriers, but you’re typically not going to get as great a return when you redeem points that way. Additionally, you can redeem points on hotels, car rentals or merchandise. At subpar rates, though, you’d be losing out on a lot of value.
Which cards compete with the Southwest Performance Business?
Currently, the only other Southwest business card available is the Southwest Premier Business, which offers a less lucrative earning structure and fewer perks. Considering the four upgraded boarding passes alone makes up for the increased annual fee on the Southwest Performance, frequent Southwest flyers will get more out of this more premium card.
The value of the Southwest Performance Business Card starts to wane after you earn the sign-up bonus and Companion Pass benefit, a common thread among cobranded airline cards. Because of this, other small business cards such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase also compete with the Performance. The Ink Preferred offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent each year across all travel purchases and the same business categories (plus shipping) as the Performance, so you’re actually getting more value when you use it for Southwest business travel and other business expenses — especially if you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for personal spending.
I would suggest using the Southwest Performance for all Southwest purchases and eligible business expenses until you earn the 100,000-point sign-up bonus and Companion Pass benefit. Afterward, you may want to be more selective in how you use the Performance card in favor of a card such as the Ink Preferred, though a regular Southwest flyer will likely get some serious value from the built-in Wi-Fi credits and other carrier-specific perks.
Related reading: Best business credit cards
If you’re not a loyal Southwest flyer interested in hitting A-List elite status or earning a valuable Companion Pass, there are other business cards out there that offer more value and flexibility than this card. Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like the Ink Business Preferred, for example, allow you to transfer points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio if you’re only interested in earning award flights.
However, the with the 100k point sign-up bonus and Southwest-specific perks offer a lot of value to the right cardholders. If you are aiming for A-List elite status or a Companion Pass, the Southwest Performance Business card will definitely help you meet your goals and is a fantastic offer to consider.
Featured image by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
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