Southwest Performance Business card review: The best Southwest card – with an 80,000-point bonus
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Credit Card Overview
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is Southwest’s top-tier business credit card, offering 4x on Southwest Airlines purchases, 3x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners 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 personal travel credit cards because of high annual fees and fewer benefits, the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card is unusually compelling. The card provides extensive bonus earning categories that allow business owners to earn bonus points on everyday expenses. Right now, new cardholders can use the card’s welcome offer and strategic spending to 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 is 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 annual fee than with the Premier version.
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 actual small business owners.
Current sign-up bonus
Right now, you can earn 80,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within your first three months of account opening. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth $1,200. To put that into 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 Sapphire Reserve offers more flexibility in how you can use that bonus.
Points earned from Southwest credit cards — including sign-up bonuses — count as qualifying points toward the coveted Southwest Companion Pass. As a result, if you sign up for the card now and spend $5,000 within the first three months, you’ll have at least 85,000 points. The typical requirements for the Companion Pass are:
- Flying at least 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year
- Earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year
However, Southwest has reduced the requirement for 2021. All Rapid Rewards members active as of Dec. 31, 2020, have had 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 qualifying one-way flights deposited in their accounts. So including that boost, if you earn this card’s bonus in 2021, you’ll have 110,000 qualifying points — with just 15,000 points to go.
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 you may want to time it strategically to earn the card’s bonus in the early months of 2022.
By opening another Southwest credit card and earning its bonus as well, you’d immediately qualify for a Companion Pass, giving your companion nearly two years of flying with you (through December 2023). Just remember that this card is subject to the Chase 5/24 rule in that if you’ve already opened five or more credit cards from any bank (excluding most business cards) in the last 24 months, Chase will almost certainly decline your application. However, opening the Southwest Performance Business will not count against your 5/24 limit. It’s a small business card, so it won’t show up on your personal credit report.
All three personal Southwest cards (the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card) come with a 75,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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 mf1eans 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.
Status Boost: You’ll earn 1,500 TQPs per $10,000 you spend on purchases in a calendar year, to help you reach elite status faster.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck: 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.
$500 fee credit for points transfers per year: Transfer points to another Rapid Rewards member and up to $500 in fees associated with the transfer will be reimbursed each account anniversary year.
While not specific to this card, remember that Southwest offers the following perks to all travelers:
Free checked bags: Your first and second checked bags 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:
- 4 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases
- 3 points per dollar on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
- 2 points per dollar for local transit and commuting, including ride-hailing services
- 2 points per dollar for social media and search engine advertising
- 2 points per dollar for internet, cable and phone services
- 1 point per dollar for all other eligible purchases
That’s a 6% 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 in a calendar year, you’ll earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points (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.
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 make up for the increased annual fee on the Southwest Performance, frequent Southwest flyers will get more out of this more premium card.
I would suggest using the Southwest Performance Business Card for Southwest Airlines purchases, as it earns 4 points per dollar on those purchases.
Related reading: Best small business credit cards of 2021
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 Credit Card, 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 80,000-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.
Apply here: Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy.
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