The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card from Chase is a small business credit card with a travel rewards program that favors frequent Southwest Airlines flyers. It’s closely related to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card, a consumer option that’s popular with individuals who frequently fly with Southwest.
Though the Premier Business card is definitely useful for heavy spenders and frequent travelers, it’s worth pointing out up front the $99 annual fee – and the lack of luxurious benefits, such as complimentary airport lounge access.
- Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $2,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you get 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points. This bonus is reliably worth more than $500 at redemption, and can be worth much more when redeemed for higher-priced flights.
- Earning Rapid Rewards Points: This card earns unlimited 2 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent on Southwest airfare, vacation packages, in-flight food and drinks, and other incidentals, provided they’re made directly with the airline and not through a third-party booking site. Purchases with hotel and rental car partners, such as Hertz, also earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 Rapid Rewards point per $1 spent. Points never expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
- Redeeming Rapid Rewards Points: Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for Southwest Airlines airfare, with no blackout dates or seat restrictions. Redemption minimums typically start at 5,000 for one-way flights and 10,000 for round-trip flights, though they’re subject to variation based on the dollar cost of the flight. Points are reliably worth $0.01 or more, and can be worth up to $0.02 apiece in some cases, depending on the time, date, and season of your flight, as well as distance, destination, and other factors. Generally speaking, short-haul flights offer better value. However, Southwest Airlines regularly adjusts the number of points required to redeem a particular flight, sometimes on a weekly or daily basis, so your mileage may vary. Separately, you can redeem Rapid Rewards points for experiences (such as music shows), merchandise, rental cars, and gift cards through Southwest More Rewards, a partner company. However, More Rewards usually values points at well under $0.01 apiece. More Rewards also works with more than 50 international airlines and a number of hotel chains to allow Rapid Rewards redemptions on more than 800 international flight routes (though Southwest still does not belong to a major airline alliance) and at approximately 70,000 hotels worldwide. Redemption minimums and point values vary by airline and hotel, but are typically lower than what’s possible with Southwest redemptions.
- Tier Qualifying Point Earnings: This card earns 1,500 bonus Tier Qualifying Points, which are Rapid Rewards points not earned through credit card sign-up bonuses or partner purchases, for every $10,000 spent. You can earn up to 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points per year in this manner, and an unlimited number of additional Tier Qualifying Points by paying cash for Southwest Airlines fares and making non-Southwest credit card purchases. If you earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year, you earn A-List status, which confers membership in Southwest’s elite frequent flyer program. Notable A-List status benefits include priority consideration on standby flights, priority boarding on all flights, and a 25% point-earning bonus. It’s also possible to earn A-List status by completing at least 25 one-way flights in a calendar year.
- Cardmember Anniversary Bonus: Every year your account remains open and in good standing, you get a 6,000-point bonus on your cardmember anniversary. This is often enough to redeem for a short one-way flight.
- Companion Pass Status: Companion Pass status is an elite designation afforded to heavy spenders who frequently fly Southwest. To earn it, you either need to accumulate 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points (through cash fare and credit card purchases, other than partner purchases) or complete at least 100 one-way Southwest Airlines segments (connecting flights count separately) in a calendar year. Companion Pass status holders can use the benefit to bring along a companion traveler on any Southwest flight at no additional fare charge (taxes and security fees must be paid). There’s no limit to how many times this benefit can be invoked. Benefit holders can travel with as many individual companions throughout the year as they like, though they can’t travel with more than one companion per flight. Companion Pass status goes into effect as soon as it’s earned and remains in effect for the entire year thereafter. For instance, if you earn Companion Pass status in October, you enjoy it until December 31st of the following year – more than 14 months.
- Regular APR: The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is 16.24% and varies with prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and the penalty APR is 29.99%.
- Important Fees: The annual fee is $99. There is no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5%, cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, returned payments cost $37, and late payments cost $15 to $37 (depending on late balance size). There are no fees for additional employee cards.
- Travel Benefits: This card comes with a number of nice travel benefits, including no change fees and up to 2 free checked bags per flight.
- Credit Required: This card requires excellent credit.
- Companion Pass Is Great for Frequent Fliers. If you fly Southwest often, it’s definitely worth striving for Companion Pass status. It’s especially valuable for couples who take regular vacations, because it gives frequent Southwest fliers the power to take a companion of their choosing on any Southwest flight – and pay only taxes and fees. This benefit is quite rare among other airlines. Alaska Airlines’ companion airfare benefit limits the cost of companion fares to $121, but that’s usually still more than the taxes and fees on Southwest Airlines Companion Pass fares.
- Very Good Sign-up Bonus. This card has a very good sign-up bonus: 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 or more within 3 months of opening your account. This bonus can be worth close to $1,000, depending on the flights for which it’s redeemed. Also, its spending threshold is much lower than that of some competing business travel cards, which can require $3,000 to $5,000 in spending within 3 to 4 months.
- Earn 2x Points on All Purchases Made Directly With Southwest. This card earns double points on all purchases made directly with Southwest Airlines. That includes airfare as well as vacation packages and incidental fees. By contrast, the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card’s triple-point earnings apply only to airfare, vacation packages, and cargo packages. Many other airlines only offer accelerated point earnings on direct airfare purchases.
- Points Never Expire. As long as your Rapid Rewards account remains open, your accumulated points never expire, even if you have long stretches of inactivity. This isn’t always the case with other airline rewards programs – for example, British Airways Avios points expire after just 36 months.
- No Fees for Employee Cards. Chase doesn’t charge fees for additional employee cards, so you don’t have to worry about racking up additional overhead if you have multiple employees who need Rapid Rewards Premier Business cards.
- No Change Fees. Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge change fees. Therefore, if you need to change your reward flight’s date, time, or even destination after your initial booking, you don’t have to worry about incurring an extra fee. Instead, you just pay the cost difference (in dollars or Rapid Rewards points) between the two flights. Southwest Airlines is rare among airlines with rewards credit cards for eschewing change fees – most others, including major domestic carriers such as American Airlines and United Airlines, charge $100 to $200 per flight under normal circumstances.
- First and Second Checked Bag Free. Your first and second checked bags are always free. This is ideal for business travelers who spend long periods away from home, or those who take lots of equipment on trips (such as golf bags or professional photography gear).
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. This card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, which makes it a great tool for international travelers. This is in stark contrast to the Expedia+ and Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature cards, both of which come with 3% foreign transaction fees.
- Higher Annual Fee Than Some Competitors. This card’s $99 annual fee is fairly high among business credit cards tied to specific airlines. Alaska Airlines’ business card, for example, charges $75 per year, while American Express Gold Delta SkyMiles Business waives its $95 annual fee in the first year of card membership.
- Few Luxury Benefits. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card has useful practical benefits – up to 2 free checked bags per person and no change fees, for example. However, it lacks in the luxury and convenience departments. Many competing cards offer discounted or complimentary airport lounge passes or memberships, as well as priority boarding and class upgrades. To get such benefits with Southwest, you need to spend (or fly) enough to earn A-List membership.
- Variable Point Requirements Make Planning Ahead for Redemptions Difficult. The number of Rapid Rewards points required for a reward flight redemption can vary from week to week (and even day to day) based on such factors as date, flight time, demand level, season, and more. Flights that require 10,000 points this week might ask for 12,000 next week, or vice versa. Southwest Airlines does have a customer-facing redemption calculator that lets you price out the approximate number of points required for a redemption, but this tool is far from scientific. Since you don’t know exactly how many points you need for a given flight until you actually book, it’s tough to plan ahead and budget points for reward travel. Most other airline rewards programs with associated business credit cards, including Delta SkyMiles and American Airlines AAdvantage, have set redemption thresholds – for instance, 12,500 for a domestic economy one-way, regardless of dollar value. Planning and budgeting is much simpler with such programs.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card is not the most luxurious business travel card around. If you crave preferred treatment and swanky benefits, such as complimentary airport lounge access, look to a more generous card – such as American Express Business Platinum, a charge card that makes up for its hefty $450 annual fee with a host of perks for discerning business travelers. If you’re okay with practical benefits, such as Rapid Rewards Premier Business’s lack of change fees and free checked bags, this card should suit you fine.