Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card Review

Jun 26, 2019

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest and Chase recently launched the newest addition to the Southwest cobranded card lineup, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card. While it can be hard for premium airline cards (especially business versions) to compete with standard travel cards because of high annual fees and fewer benefits, the Performance offer is compelling. The card comes with a valuable sign-up bonus and expanded bonus categories that allow business owners to earn bonus points on everyday expenses. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of this business card.

In This Post

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 coveted 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, business owners.

Sign-up Bonus

You’ll earn a sizeable 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each, meaning this bonus is worth $1,200. To put that in perspective, that’s technically a 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).

This is the highest sign-up bonus that Southwest has ever offered on one of their cobranded cards. It’s more than enough to get you a roundtrip Wanna Get Away fare from Oakland (OAK) to Honolulu (HNL) or a roundtrip Anytime fare between LaGuardia (LGA) and Cabo San Lucas (SJD), if you book far enough in advance to find low award prices.

Hawaii
The Southwest Performance Business Card’s sign-up bonus is enough to get you a Wanna Get Away fare from OAK to HNL. (Photo by Anthony Giustino / Getty Images)

Perhaps most importantly, this bonus takes a lot of the work out of earning 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 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, but since the points from this bonus count as qualifying points, signing up for this card gives you a huge head start. Plus, if you don’t already have a personal Southwest card, you can pair the Performance with one of the three personal card options to earn the Companion Pass benefit with just the combined sign-up bonuses.

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 access to the Companion Pass for almost two years.

Earning

As the more premium business card option, the Performance Business card comes with a higher rewards rate than other Southwest card options. You’ll earn 3x points 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 points on everything else. That’s a 4.5% return on Southwest purchases and a 3% return on eligible business purchases.

Also, 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.

Redeeming

As with most cobranded airline cards, you’ll get the most value when you redeem 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. However, the upside is Southwest’s simple fixed-value redemption system: the more a flight costs in cash, the more it costs in points. As more airlines start to adopt dynamic pricing models, the mostly straightforward Southwest award system becomes more novel (and in my opinion, attractive). 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 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 loosing out on a lot of value.

Perks

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.

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 Aniversary 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 free 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. Yes, you could purchase an all-day inflight Wi-Fi pass every single day of the year, and Southwest would cover it.

Points Boost — As mentioned above, 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 earn points on employee spending. You can set spending limits on employee cards by calling cardmember services.

(Photo by Jessica Puckett/The Points Guy)
The Upgraded Boardings perk allows you to be among the first to board so you can grab a seat up front. (Photo by Jessica Puckett/The Points Guy)

While not specific to this card, remember also these general Southwest perks:

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.

Free Cancellations — You won’t be charged a cancellation fee. Business Select and Anytime fares are refundable; Wanna Get Away fares are nonrefundable but may be applied toward future Southwest itineraries.

Which Cards Compete With the Southwest Performance Business?

Currently, the only other Southwest business card available is the Southwest Premier Business, which offers a 2x/1x rewards 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 the 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 80,000-point sign-up bonus and Companion Pass benefit. Afterward, you can be more selective in how you use the Performance in favor of a card such the Ink Preferred.

Bottom Line

If you’re not a loyal Southwest flyer interested in hitting A-List status or earning a Companion Pass, there are other business cards out there that offer more value and flexibility. Chase UR 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 sign-up bonus and Southwest-specific perks offer a lot of value to the right cardholders. If you are aiming for A-List status or a Companion Pass, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card will definitely help you meet your goals.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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