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Chase and Southwest Airlines have introduced a new business credit card with better features and perks than its other cards, but also a higher annual fee.
Here's what to expect from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card:
Annual fee: $199
Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases.
2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
9,000 bonus points each cardmember anniversary.
4 upgraded boardings per year when available.
Inflight Wi-Fi credits.
Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit.
Employee cards at no additional cost. (You'll earn points on employee spending.)
Companion Pass jump-start
The huge sign-up bonus for the new card gets you nearly three-quarters of the way to a highly coveted Southwest Companion Pass, which is like a buy-one-get-one deal on your Southwest flights. After you earn one of these passes, you can choose a companion to fly with you for free (minus taxes and fees) when you buy a flight or redeem points for a free flight.
You earn a Companion Pass by amassing 125,000 Rapid Rewards qualifying points in a calendar year (or by flying 100 one-way flights.) A Companion Pass is good for the rest of the year in which you earned it, as well as the following calendar year.
Is the annual fee worth it?
Chase and Southwest already offer a different business card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. That card has a lower annual fee of $99, but also poorer rewards rates and fewer perks than the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card.
The new card's annual fee puts it into the semi-luxury category, although the perks alone seem to justify the price, even after the sign-up bonus. The 9,000 bonus points are worth about $144 when used for a domestic flight, according to NerdWallet valuations. And if a $100 Global Entry application fee credit is used, that’s a value of $20 per year because enrollment lasts five years.
The value of upgraded boardings and Wi-Fi credits get you the rest of the way toward making up for the annual fee. Upgraded boarding — meaning early boarding — usually costs $30, $40 or $50 per flight, depending on your itinerary. A day of Wi-Fi normally costs $8 per device. The credit card gives you 365 credits, enough for one device every day of the year. The perk comes in the form of reimbursement — a statement credit when you use the credit card to pay for onboard Wi-Fi.
New bonus categories
Until now, all Southwest credit cards — for business owners and consumers — had the same rewards structure for spending:
2 points per $1 spent on purchases from Southwest Airlines and its hotel and car rental partners.
1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
The new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers triple points for Southwest purchases and double points for spending categories useful to small-business owners.
If you’re not a business owner, you have three choices of consumer cards for Southwest Airlines.
It's worth noting, however, that qualifying for a business credit card might not be as difficult as you think.