Review: Southwest Business Cards

 Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

 

Chase offers two Southwest business cards that can help you get the coveted Southwest Companion Pass–the Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card and the Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card. But Companion Pass aside, how valuable are these credit cards? Below, we analyze the Performance and the Premier cards and how they can be useful for Southwest flyers. 

Current Offers

The Chase Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card currently has an 80,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after accounting opening. The card has a $199 annual fee.

The Chase Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card currently has an 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. The card comes with a $99 annual fee.

Application Rules

As with any other Chase card, you cannot qualify for either card if you have opened more than 5 credit cards with any bank in the last 24 months. In addition, you cannot open a Southwest business card if you are a current holder of that specific card. Also, you cannot receive a sign-up bonus for a card if you have received that welcome bonus in the last 24 months, even if you no longer hold that card. Lastly, having one Southwest business card does not affect your eligibility for the other card.

Earn Rates

Both cards offer bonus points per dollar spent on multiple categories:

Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

  • 4x  on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 3x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x on on social media and search engine advertising,
    internet, cable, and phone services
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 1x on all other purchases
  • 3x  on Southwest Airlines purchases
  • 2x on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • 1x on all other purchases

Neither card is known for its earning prowess. Earning 4x or 3x on Southwest is not that valuable, considering how many cards earn multiple points per dollar on airline purchases. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on travel, the Amex Gold earns 3x for flights booked directly with airlines, and the Citi Premier earns 3x on air travel. We at ToP usually prefer earning transferable points currencies over airline miles.

Benefits

The Performance and the Premier cards each have their own set of benefits, with a few overlapping:

Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

Points earned every year on your Cardmember anniversary 9,000 6,000
4 Upgraded Boardings when available X
Up to 365 inflight WiFi credits per year X
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit X
Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year X
25% back on inflight purchases X
No foreign transaction fees X X
Earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent X X

The Performance card offers stronger perks than the Premier, which is expected due to a higher annual fee. The upgraded boardings alone come close to justifying the Performance card's $199 annual fee. Upgraded boardings cost between $30 and $50 per flight. The inflight credits can also be very useful. Southwest charges $8 for WiFi. So if you use your inflight WiFi credits 25 times in a year, you'll have covered the cost of the annual fee.

Meanwhile, the Premier card's perks are more modest. The two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year can be pretty useful. EarlyBird Check-In costs between $15 and $25 per flight and gives you automatic check-in before the usual 24-hour check-in for Southwest flights. Meanwhile, 25% off in-flight purchases can be helpful for those who regularly purchase WiFi or alcoholic beverages on Southwest flights.

The last line in the table above shows that both cards can be used to achieve A-List or A-List Preferred status through spend. This perk is a nice little boost for those nearing A-List or A-List Preferred status at the end of the year. For those looking to earn status solely through spend, this is not a very good deal. Cardholders can earn 1,500 qualifying points for ever $10,000 in spend on either card. At this rate, cardholders would have to spend over $230,000 dollars in one year to achieve A-List. A-List Preferred requires twice as much!

Our Analysis

The Performance card's annual fee is easy to justify given the card's benefits. And the 9,000 anniversary points only sweetens the deal.

The Premier, on the other hand, is less compelling. Assuming the maximum cash cost of $25 per EarlyBird Check-In, the annual fee goes down from $99 to $49. With 6,000 anniversary points, you're essentially buying 6,000 Southwest points for $49 (approx. 0.8 cents per point). All this without factoring in the 25% off from inflight purchases.

The Premier card can make sense for some folks. But the Performance card is a much stronger card over all, despite the higher annual fee.

For purposes of getting the Southwest Companion Pass, we think the Performance card makes more sense. Getting the CP with a business card is much easier than relying only on a Southwest personal card. So if you're going to open a Southwest business card to get the CP, you might as well open the one with a bigger sign-up bonus and that gives you better perks. That said, if the Performance card's higher minimum spend of $5,000 is too high for you, then it makes sense to go with the Premier, which has a lower spend spend requirement of $3,000.

Final Thoughts

The Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card and the Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card can both be useful for frequent Southwest flyers. Of course, the two cards are also excellent for getting the Southwest Companion Pass. With their different set of perks, the Performance and the Premier can both help enhance your Southwest experience once you get the Companion Pass.

How do the Southwest business cards fit within your Companion Pass strategy? Do you consider either card to be a keeper? Come join the discussion in our Facebook group!

 

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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