How I used credit cards to cut my small business travel costs in half

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  • I got my first small business credit card and it saved me a lot of money on travel.
  • By opening and using a Southwest credit card, I was able to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Using a credit card responsibly to earn rewards can help offset your small business expenses.
  • Read the Insider Guide to the Best Credit Cards for Small Business.

I am quite meticulous when it comes to my money. At a young age, my mom taught me how to keep organized financial records, use a ledger, and balance a checkbook. Until I started EnrichHER in 2017, I had lived a life without debt and had never touched a credit card.

However, as my business grew, business expenses – software tools, supplies, subscriptions, Google ads – started pouring in quickly. The trip was my biggest expense. I flew weekly to meet with potential investors, participate in pitch contests and attend business conferences. These costs were beyond my cash flow, so after talking to other entrepreneurs, I turned to credit cards.

At the time, I was making an average of around $ 15,000 per month in travel expenses (mostly) (I flew 54 times in 2019 alone!). The expense was necessary, however, as these trips sometimes resulted in cash grants, partnerships or investment agreements.

For the amount of money I was spending on travel, I realized I was missing an opportunity to capitalize on airline incentives. I did my research and compared all the airline loyalty programs, ultimately deciding that Southwest had the best option for me.

I used a Southwest credit card to earn the Companion Pass

Regular APR

Variable APR from 15.99% to 22.99%

Credit score

Good to Excellent

Featured Reward

80,000 points after spending $ 5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening the account

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  • Advantages and disadvantages

  • Details


  • Advantages
    • 4x bonus points on Southwest purchases
    • Valuable Southwest perks, including four upgraded boardings per year, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, and 9,000 points each year on your birthday
    The inconvenients
    • The annual fee of $ 199 is steep
    • Earn 80,000 points after spending $ 5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
    • 9,000 bonus points after your cardholder’s birthday.
    • NEW! Earn 4X Points on Southwest® purchases.
    • Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and automotive partners.
    • NEW! Earn 2X points on carpooling.
    • Earn twice the points on social networks and search engines, Internet, cable and telephone services and 1x the points on all other purchases.
    • 4 upgraded boardings per year when available.
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® fee credit.

    Read our review
    Read our review A long arrow, pointing to the right

    The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business credit card offered a quick way to earn rewards on purchases and offered the opportunity to earn qualifying points for the Southwest Companion Pass.

    This particular advantage is what attracted me to the card. Having the option of taking a staff member with me on business trips has been a huge money saving. It almost halved my travel costs.

    Read more: Southwest Credit Cards Just Got A Major Overhaul, With New Bonus Categories, Improved Perks, And Welcome Bonuses Up To 100,000 Points

    I was able to qualify for the Companion Pass within a few months. And yes, the Companion Pass allows you to book a confirmed ticket for your companion – not on hold – and I was only responsible for taxes and fees.

    I have to admit that at first I was terrified of falling behind on credit card payments. Remember, I had never owned a credit card before and that’s because I was taught to use cash and pay for everything in full. I knew the horror stories of how this type of debt can banish you from a life of bad credit scores, high interest rates, and harassment of debt collectors.

    Read more: Guide to the best starter credit cards

    My saving grace was that I started this process with a strategy. Each week, I categorized all transactions by type (ie “Flights”, “Hotel”, “Shipping”, etc.) to keep charges organized and not fall behind on payments. I also linked the costs to the KPIs to better analyze our expenses.

    If I didn’t get the feedback I wanted on certain initiatives, I would adjust our plans. Keeping a close eye on card activity allowed me to anticipate our bill, which I was able to pay in full each month.

    Although my business expenses are very different today, I still approach credit cards with the same philosophy:

    Not all debt is bad

    It’s well known that credit cards can help establish business credit, but I didn’t realize that if used strategically they could help offset some business costs, like travel.

    Have a plan

    Set a specific goal for how you’ll use your credit card, and stick to that plan. And if that doesn’t work, start a new plan.

    Stay organized

    Categorize your expenses to stay aware of what you’re spending and how much you’re spending. There are a number of service apps that will do this for you.

    Take advantage of the rewards programs

    I have used my credit card for travel benefits, but there are many cards that offer a variety of incentives such as cash back, 0% APR on balance transfers, and retail discounts. Find the program that’s right for you.

    Avoid billing what you can’t pay in 30 days

    This rule has helped me think twice about certain decisions. For example, does the desktop really need a dozen iMac upgrades or can it wait another year?

    Don’t buy if there is no return on your investment

    Another word of wisdom that I follow religiously. It doesn’t make sense to spend money that ultimately doesn’t benefit you. Always analyze your spending to see if your monthly transactions match your business goals.

    With a little planning and research, credit cards can be the asset you never thought you needed.

    Featured credit cards from our partners
    Featured Reward

    60,000 points

    Credit needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    3 free nights (each worth up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases and 10x total points on qualifying purchases in certain categories

    Credit needed

    Good to Excellent

    Featured Reward

    $ 200 after spending $ 500 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account

    Credit needed

    Good to Excellent


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