This is post #4 of my blog series on the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.
- What is a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
- How to Earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
- Getting Two Southwest Credit Cards to Count Towards the Companion Pass
- Earning Partner Points to Count Towards the Companion Pass
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Reward Points to Southwest for Companion Pass Status
- Getting the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass for 2014 and 2015 Calendar Year
- Using the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass on Southwest and AirTran flights
- Changing your Companion with the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
- Top 20 Questions for the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
While you can earn a decent amount of qualifying points towards the Southwest Airlines companion pass with the Southwest Airlines credit card, you will need a total of 110,000 points total to earn the pass. If you get one Southwest Airlines credit card you’ll earn bonus points after meeting the minimum spend and if you get two Southwest Airlines credit card you’ll earn double the amount of points after meeting the minimum spend on both cards separately. Remember, the minimum spend amount that you put on the card will also count towards the qualifying points needed for the companion pass.
The credit cards alone, however, will not give you the total amount of points needed to hit the 110,000 points needed. There are a few ways to earn these additional points:
- Flying Southwest Airlines
- Additional credit card spend
- Transferring hotel points to Southwest
- Southwest Airlines shopping portal
- Earning Southwest points with other travel programs
Flying Southwest Airlines: With every paid flight you take, you’ll earn not only points that you can use to redeem for a future flight, but qualifying points that count towards the companion pass as well. The amount you earn depends on fare class.
- Wanna Get Away Fare: 6 points per dollar spent
- Anytime Fare: 10 points per dollar spent
- Business Select Fare: 12 points per dollar spent
Additional credit card spend: With any of the four Southwest credit cards the amount of points you earn with each statement will count towards your companion pass status. So let’s say after you hit your $2,000 minimum spend, you put another $1,000 on the card. With all four of the credit card options you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest and Airtran purchases (as long as the flights are made directly with the two airlines, not a third-part) as well as hotel and car rental partner purchases made directly through the Rapid Rewards portal. You’ll then earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. So if $250 of the $1,000 spent was for a Southwest flight and the rest was on random every day spend (groceries, restaurants, gas, etc.), you’ll earn 1,250 Southwest points which will also give you 1,250 qualifying points towards the companion ticket. These points will hit your account a few days after your statement closes, not immediately after the purchase is made.
Transferring hotel points to Southwest: As of right now, hotel points transferred to Southwest points count as qualifying points towards the companion ticket. Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards DO NOT count towards the companion pass (I’ll post more on this next week on how to go a roundabout method to get them to count).
- Club Carlson: Can only transfer in increments of 2,000, 50,000, and 100,000 – all have the same transfer ratio:
- 2,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 5,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- 100,000 Club Carlson Gold Points = 10,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Hyatt points: 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points = 2,400 Southwest Rapid Reward points; additionally for every 50,000 points transferred from Hyatt you’ll receive an additional 6,000 points (this is when transferring to any partner airline from Hyatt).
- Marriott: The more points you transfer, the better the ratio will be. However, Marriott has Hotel + Air Packages which ultimately end up being a better transfer ratio
- 10,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 2,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- 20,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 5,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 10,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- 70,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 25,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- 140,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- Marriott Hotel + Air Packages: Marriott offers Hotel + Air Packages which ultimately ends up being a better value for your points (if it works for you with redeeming a Marriott hotel). There are four different packages depending on the number of Marriott nights you need – you can check them out here. This will give you the biggest bang for your buck, although you have to have a Marriott redemption in mind for it to work. I’ll post more on the Marriott Hotel + Air Packages next week.
- Wyndham Rewards: 8,000 Wyndham Rewards points = 2,400 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
Keep in mind, that overall you will definitely be losing value by transferring your hotel points to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. However, you have to outweigh the companion pass potential if this is the only way you can earn it. For example, if you transfer 50,000 Hyatt points you’ll earn a total of 30,000 Southwest points. 50,000 Hyatt points can get you 2 free nights at a top-tier hotel, while 30,000 Southwest points equals a flat $500. The 50,000 Hyatt points is worth well more than $500 in my opinion – closer to $1,000.
I personally was able to earn a boatload of Wyndham Rewards points for cheap via a few different promotions and purchasing them during the Daily Getaways promotion so come January 1, 2014 I will be transferring all my points (over 330,000 Wyndham points) to Southwest – assuming hotel transfers still work. This will get me almost the 110,000 points needed to earn the companion pass.
Southwest Airlines Shopping Portal: Like any other airline, Southwest also has their own shopping portal where you will earn bonus Southwest points for each purchase through a partner merchant. All you have to do is go to the Southwest shopping portal, select the merchant where you are looking to shop online with, and you will be taken directly to that merchants website. You will then go ahead and make your purchase as you would have originally if you went directly to the merchants website first. Your purchase is tracked in the background and through online technology you’ll earn X number of points with your purchase. It is a great way to earn bonus points with a purchase you would have made anyways!
There are also bonus opportunities from time to time, for example, right now you can get 6 points per dollar spent on all your Sears online purchases. I’ve personally made many purchases with Staples – right now it is 2 points per dollar spent, but sometimes there are bonus offers for 4 points per dollar. My gift card purchases from Staples have earned me many Southwest bonus points!
Earning points with other travel programs: You can earn Southwest Rapid Reward points with participating hote, car rental, and ground transportation reservations:
- Hotel Stays: You will earn 600 Southwest Rapid Reward points per stay (NOT per night) with the following hotel chains: Best Western, Club Carlson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, LaQuinta, Marriott, MLife, Starwood, Wyndham. Keep in mind that typically earning the hotel points is a much better option, but for a really inexpensive one night stay, you might find that earning partner miles is better.
- Car Rentals: You will earn 600 Southwest Rapid Reward points per rental with the following car rental companies: Alamo, Avis*, Budget*, Dollar, Hertz, National, Thrifty. With Avis and Budget, only participating locations allow you to earn partner miles/points, which is typically just onsite airport locations.
- SupperShuttle & ExecuCar: You will earn 150 Southwest Rapid Reward points for each one-way trip on ShupperShuttle’s shared-ride airport shuttle and ExecuCar’s private sedan service.
Southwest Credit Card to Help Earn the Companion Pass: You can apply for the Southwest credit card here and navigate through the page to apply for the specific offer you are interested in. Just remember, the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each anniversary year. You can read more about all four cards in this prior blog post.
Disclosure: These post contains affiliate links. While my goal for you is to travel on a deal, this is one I highly support as I’ve had the companion pass for many years!
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.