Thursday, February 9, 2017

Everything You Need to Know About the Southwest Business Credit Card

If you’re traveling across the country for business, Southwest is a convenient, budget-friendly airline—and one with an excellent business credit card offer.

The Rapid Rewards® Business Premier credit card doesn’t offer much by way of travel perks (your card can’t give you free checked bags when everyone gets two free) but it does offer an excellent signup bonus.

We’ll review the Southwest Business Credit Card, rank it against other travel cards, and help you decide which business credit card is right for you.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Business Premier Review

First, the nuts and bolts:

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Business Premier credit card, offered by Chase, earns 2 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points per $1 spent on Southwest and Southwest’s hotel and rental car partners, and 1 point per $1 elsewhere.

It has a $99 annual fee that kicks in immediately, but that gets you 6,000 bonus points every year as an anniversary bonus, and employee cards are free.

There’s no foreign transaction fee, and your points don’t expire as long as your credit card (not Southwest Rapid Rewards) account remains open.

The main draw of the Southwest business credit card, though, is its signup bonus.

Currently, if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership, you’ll earn a full 60,000 Rapid Rewards Points.

Those points can be redeemed for free flights at a variable rate, but they’re usually worth in the realm of 1.5 cents each.

This means your 60,000-point signup bonus can be worth around $900 in free flights—and as we’ll see later in the article, it could be worth a lot more.

The Southwest business credit card offers a killer signup bonus, but its ongoing rewards simply aren’t that great.

Yes, the 6,000-point anniversary bonus just about offsets the $99 annual fee if you redeem wisely, but other cards offer better long-term value.

Get the Southwest business credit card if:

  • You fly Southwest pretty much exclusively.
  • You want an excellent signup bonus.
  • You’ve earned around 50,000 Southwest Points this year already (don’t worry, we’ll explain in a bit).

Skip the Southwest business credit card if:

  • You like having a choice in airlines.
  • You want a long-term credit card account that you’ll keep for many years.
  • You want travel perks.

The Southwest Business Visa’s ace in the hole

The best reason to get the Southwest business credit card?

Southwest Airlines’ companion ticket.

If you complete 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points in one calendar year, you’ll get a companion pass valid for the remainder of the current year as well as all of next year.

This means that for every Southwest flight you pay for, you can bring someone else—a friend, partner, spouse, kid, stranger on the street—for free.

Plus, you can change your designated companion up to three times, so it’s relatively breakup-proof.

Earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points is a high bar unless you go after credit card signup bonuses.

If you can snag both the Southwest business credit card and the personal Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you can earn 60,000 points with the business credit card’s bonus and 50,000 with the personal card’s—as long as you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

That 60,000-point bonus gets much, much more attractive when you tack on the savings you’ll get from a companion ticket.

And if you time it just right, you can get nearly two years’ worth of companion fare.

As we mentioned, the pass kicks in the calendar year that you earn 110,000 points (or take 100 one-way flights). But if you hit the mark on January 15th, 2018, the pass will be valid through December 31st, 2019.

Not too shabby, huh?

Head to Head: How Does the Southwest Business Credit Card Compare to Other Business Cards?

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM

The Ink Business PreferredSM  from Chase has a strong rewards program with 3 points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 in preset categories. This year, those categories are travel, shipping, Internet, cable and phone services, and search engine and social media ad buys. You’ll also get 1 point per $1 spent elsewhere.

To kick things off, it comes with a signup bonus of 80,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of cardmembership.

It also comes with an annual fee of $95. Like the Southwest business credit card, this one has no foreign transaction fee or employee card fee.

The Ink Business Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, which are worth 1 cent each when redeemed as a statement credit, 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, and depending on how strategically you transfer points, upwards of 3 cents when redeemed through partner airline or hotel loyalty programs.

For example, if you convert 25,000 Ultimate Rewards Points to the same number of United miles and use them to get a $700 ticket, that’s a value of 2.8 cents. With a hefty signup bonus and solid ongoing rewards, there are a lot of reasons to recommend the Ink Business Preferred.  

Verdict: If you spend a lot of money on the Ink Business Preferred’s bonus categories, enjoy versatility in earning and redeeming travel rewards, or get good value out of award flights, go with the Ink. If not, the Southwest card’s lower effective annual fee wins out.  

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is a more versatile travel card.

It earns 2 miles on every dollar that you spend (not just on travel expenses), and those miles can be redeemed as a statement credit against any travel expense—airfare, hotels, taxi rides, and more.

You can also use them to pay for travel booked through Capital One’s Orbitz-powered travel portal.

Its annual fee of $59 is waived the first year, and it has no foreign transaction or employee card fees.

Its signup bonus—50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 in the first 3 months of cardmembership—is lower than the Southwest business credit card’s, but it also offers more versatility in earning and redeeming your rewards.

Verdict: If you don’t mind locking yourself into only earning Southwest Rapid Rewards, you should go with the Southwest Business Visa. It has a lower fee (once you factor in the anniversary bonus) and the signup bonus is more impressive.

However, if you want to earn bonus rewards in more categories and have more flexibility in redeeming them, the Spark Miles is the way to go.


Now that we’ve laid out a few of the best business credit cards for frequent travelers, are you ready to take the next step?


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