Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card review

Published: June 21, 2019

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Published: June 21, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Business Rating:
4.1 rating
4.1 rating
4.1 / 5
Rewards Value 4.1
Annual Percentage Rate 1.6
Rewards Flexibility 4.1
Features 3.0
Customer Experience 3.7

In a Nutshell:

Despite a high annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card packs enough value to make it the best of all Southwest cards.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on social media, search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$199

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($4,000 monthly spend)
$1,266

APR
18.24-25.24% (variable)

Pros

  • Offers a lot of value through its rewards and airline perks, easily outweighing its annual fee each year.
  • Earn the most on Southwest purchases out of any Southwest card.
  • Offers bonus points on some types of business purchases, in addition to Southwest flights.
  • Rapid Rewards points are valuable and flexible: They don’t expire as long as your card is open, there are no blackout dates or limits on award seats and no limit on points you can earn.
  • The large sign-up bonus can help you earn a “Companion Pass” that lets a designated companion fly free after you rack up 110,000 points within a calendar year.
  • Doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee in case you want to use it for purchases outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Charges a high $199 annual fee that isn’t waived in the first year.
  • Offers a few other redemption options besides Southwest flights, but the redemption value is poor.
  • Southwest’s flight network is mostly U.S.-based, so you have limited options for international travel with the card.

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: 4 upgraded boardings per year, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, up to $100 credit every 4 years for Global Entry/TSA Precheck, no foreign transaction fees, no cost for additional employee cards, secondary car rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency services, extended warranties, purchase protection, baggage delay insurance

Business owners who fly frequently on Southwest Airlines and have the means to foot a $199 annual fee should take a good look at the new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. With special perks for Southwest flyers — including four upgraded boardings per year — and an especially high earning rate, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance card may officially be the most valuable Southwest credit card.

The card is so laden with perks and point-earning potential, that you can easily make up the fee each year. Read on to see why the Rapid Rewards Performance card may be the best way to fly on Southwest:

Sign-up bonus

The Southwest Performance Business card’s sign-up bonus is a great incentive to apply for the card. New cardholders earn 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after they spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. This is the largest bonus currently available on any Southwest card, and it’s very valuable — worth around $1,280 in Southwest airfare by our estimates. Also, the points do count toward the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, putting you more than halfway toward the point threshold (more on that below).

Annual bonus

The Southwest Performance Business card also awards 9,000 points to cardholders each year on their card member anniversary. Worth around $144 in Southwest airfare, the annual bonus covers most of the card’s $199 annual fee.

What are points worth?

Adding to the Southwest Performance card’s value is the fact that Southwest points are fairly valuable. By our estimates, Rapid Rewards points are worth around 1.6 cents per dollar when redeemed for a Wanna Get Away fare on Southwest.

Earning points

The Southwest Performance card offers a pretty good earning scheme for business owners who frequently fly Southwest Airlines. You get 3 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines purchases — the most points offered by any Southwest credit card. Also, unlike all other Southwest credit cards, you earn bonus points on additional purchases: 2 points per dollar on social media, search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services. You earn 1 point per dollar on the remainder of your purchases. Altogether, this adds up to a higher earning rate than what most airline cards offer.

When you combine the Southwest Performance Business card’s higher-than-average earning rate with its high point value, this amounts to a lot of earning power — we estimate that the average business owner can earn 1.79 cents worth of Southwest airfare per dollar spent. Comparing this rate to other business credit cards, we find that the Rapid Rewards Performance card beats out most other airline cards, including the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card comparison

On the other hand, the Rapid Rewards Performance card doesn’t offer quite as much value per dollar as some general travel cards, such as the American Express® Business Gold Card and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express. These cards may be the better way to go if you want to rack up flexible points that you can use on other airlines besides Southwest.

Redeeming points

On the plus side, Rapid Rewards points are one of the most flexible and simple airline currencies on the planet. Your points don’t expire and there are no blackout dates or limits on how many points you can collect. As long as there is a seat available on a Southwest flight, you can purchase it with points.

Awards fall into three tiers: Wanna Get Away, Anytime and Business Select fares. Point values are fairly consistent within each tier: around 1.6 cents per point for a Wanna Get Away fare, 1.1 cents per point for an Anytime fare and 0.9 cent per point for a Business Select fare:

Southwest Rapid Rewards fare options

Average point value (cents)
Wanna Get Away 1.6
Anytime 1.1
Business Select 0.9

In other words, for frequent flyers who prefer a rewards program without a lot of complexity, Southwest makes it very simple to redeem your points and to determine how to redeem your points to get the best value: In most cases, if you redeem for a Wanna Get Away fare, you’re in good shape.

In addition to flights, Southwest offers a few other redemption options. However, you’re best off avoiding these, as they offer a very poor return on your points:

Other redemption options

Redemption option Point value (cents)
Gift cards 0.7
Car rentals 0.7
Merchandise 0.6
Hotel 0.2
Experiences 0.8

See related: The best ways to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Earning the companion pass

The Southwest Companion Pass — which allows you to bring a designated companion with you for free on any Southwest flight — is one the best perks of the Southwest Rewards program. While the requirements are steep — you need to earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a single year to qualify for the pass — the great news is that the sign-up bonus from the Performance Business card counts toward the pass. With 80,000 points down, you only need 30,000 additional points to earn the pass — an amount easily achieved through credit card spend, flying on Southwest and a variety of other strategies.

See related: How to get the Southwest Companion Pass

Other benefits

The Southwest Performance card comes with a couple more perks than its counterpart — The Southwest Business Premier card — including four upgraded boardings per year and a credit for your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application. Here’s a run down of the most notable benefits:

  • 4 upgraded boardings per year — When available, Southwest Performance card members can upgrade themselves to the A1-A15 boarding group four times each year. Though not as valuable as the unlimited priority status that some airline cards provide, it’s a good perk to have in case you find yourself at the end of the boarding line on Southwest.
  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit — Get up to a $100 credit every four years to cover your application fees for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
  • In-flight Wi-Fi credits  — You’ll receive statement credits for your in-flight Wi-Fi purchases on Southwest Airlines, up to 365 $8 credits per year.
  • No fee for employee cards — You can add employees to your account and earn Rapid Rewards points on their business purchases for no annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees — You can use the card for purchases outside the U.S. without incurring the usual 2 to 3 percent transaction fee that comes with most credit cards.
  • Secondary car rental insurance — You receive secondary insurance coverage (i.e., insurance that covers expenses not already covered by another policy) in the case of damage or theft of a vehicle rented with your Southwest Performance card.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement — If your checked or carry-on baggage is lost, you may be reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger.

Southwest Performance Business vs. Southwest Premier Business card

For business owners, Southwest offers a similar card to the Performance Business card — the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card — for a much lower $99 annual fee. While the Premier Business card is the more affordable option, our analysis suggests that the Performance Business card — which comes with better benefits than the Premier Business card, including a more valuable sign-up bonus — is the better value for the average business owner.

Even if you exclude the card’s 80,000-point bonus, the Southwest Performance Business card appears to be the best value in the long run. With its higher earning rate and higher annual bonus, the Southwest Performance Business card is likely to award you more Rapid Rewards points each year than the Southwest Premier Business card. Perks such as upgraded boardings are just cream on top of its point-earning power.

Southwest Performance Business card Southwest Premier Business card
  • 3 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on social media, search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 80,000-point bonus after you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • 9,000 bonus points each year on your card member anniversary
  • 4 upgraded boardings per year
  • In-flight Wi-Fi credits
  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck
  • $199 annual fee
  • 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines® purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
  • 60,000-point bonus after you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • 6,000 bonus points each year on your card member anniversary
  • $99 annual fee

Who should apply for the Southwest Performance Business card?

  • Business owners who want the best card for flying on Southwest.
  • Southwest flyers who want to earn a lot of Rapid Rewards points all at once.
  • Southwest frequent flyers looking to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

How to use the Southwest Performance Business card

  • Spend at least $5,000 in the first three months to earn the 80,000-point bonus.
  • Purchase all your Southwest flights and qualified business purchases on the card to earn valuable bonus points.
  • Use the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal to earn additional Rapid Rewards points on your online purchases.
  • Register your credit cards with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program to earn extra Rapid Rewards points on dining out.
  • Check out Southwest’s long list of partners: They give you many options for stocking up on Rapid Rewards points.
  • Share your referral link with friends and family members to earn 10,000 bonus points when they apply for any Southwest credit card (up to 50,000 points per year).
  • Add employees to your account for no fee to earn points on their purchases.

Is the Southwest Performance Business card worth it?

The Southwest Performance card comes with a hefty $199 fee, but it also packs a ton of value that makes it well worth the fee. If you’re looking for the best option out of any Southwest credit card for earning Rapid Rewards points, the Southwest Performance Business card may be your best bet.

On the other hand, if you aren’t a frequent flyer on Southwest, you may be better off with a flexible points card such as the American Express Business Gold Card or the Business Platinum Card from American Express. Visit our business credit cards reviews to get a view of your options.

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