Now is the Time to Apply for the Southwest Airlines Credit Card for Earning the Companion Pass in 2014

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UPDATE: This offer has expired. You can see the current credit card offers here.

Earlier this month, Southwest announced that their 50,000 point offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements is back for all of their four co-branded Chase credit cards. Many people gain interest in the Southwest Airlines credit card as the bonus points earned from opening the card count towards earning the Southwest Airlines companion pass. Since you have three months to meet the minimum spend requirement, that takes you into January 2014.

Key Link: Apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card and earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first three months.

Once you accrue the necessary 110,000 points to earn companion pass status, the pass will be available for you for the entire year it was earned PLUS the entire following calendar year. So if you earn the pass in 2013, your pass will be active for the rest of the year and all of 2014. If you earn the pass in 2014, it will be available to you for 2014 and 2015.

If you want to earn the companion pass for 2014 and 2015, you must meet the minimum spend requirements in 2014. The 50,000 points after meeting the minimum spend will hit your account a few days after your statement closes when the minimum spend is hit.

So let’s go through a few scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: You apply for the credit card now and get approved. You receive the card and spend $2,000 on it immediately. Your statement closes on November 18, 2013 and has $2,099 in charges. You have met your minimum spend requirement and the 50,000 points will post to your account probably around November 23-ish. Those 50,000 points count towards the companion pass earning for 2013. Additionally, the 2,000 points earned from credit card spend will also post to your account at the same time and count towards companion pass earnings for 2013. Once January 1, 2014 hits those points will NOT carry over.
  • Scenario 2: You apply for the credit card now and get approved. You receive the card and spend $1,999 on it immediately. Your statement closes on November 18, 2013 and has $2,098 in charges. There is a $99 charge for the credit cards annual fee. The credit card charge does NOT count towards hitting your minimums spend requirements. Around November 23-ish, 1,999 points post to your account and count towards the companion pass earnings for 2013. On December 20 you spend $100 on your credit card and puts you over the $2,000 to meet your minimum spend requirement and you’ll earn the 50,000 points. The 50,000 points will not hit your Southwest account until a few days after your next billing statement. So your next statement closes January 18, 2014, which means those 100 points from your credit card spend and 50,000 points for meeting the minimum spend will not post to your account until January 23-ish. You now have 50,100 points towards the companion pass earnings in 2014. The 1,999 points you earned in 2013 will NOT carry over.
  • Scenario 3: You apply for the credit card now and get approved. You receive the card and put it in your sock draw and do not use it. On your next billing statement you will only receive a charge for your annual fee. Even though you haven’t used the card, make sure to pay the annual fee amount (of either $69 or $99 depending on which card you apply for). On January 1, 2014 you spend $2,000 on the card. You’ve met the minimum spend requirements! Your statement closes on January 18, 2014 and you must pay the $2,000 in charges. On January 23-ish, the 2,000 points earned from credit card spend post to your Southwest account along with the 50,000 points earned from meeting the minimum spend requirement. These 52,000 points count towards companion pass earning for 2014.

Scenario 3 is obviously the best route (if you are able to make it work) as then the minimum spend of $2,000 will count towards the companion pass you are trying to earn. This 50,000 point offer ends October 31, so if you ideally want the companion pass for as much of 2014 and 2015 as possible, now is the time to apply. There is a good chance that the 50,000 point offer will come again next year, but my guess will be probably in the March timeframe.

Remember, you must earn 110,000 qualifying points in the same calendar year to get your companion pass. As of right now, the 50,000 points you earn from the credit card is worth a flat $833.33 towards a Wanna Get Away fare. However, once you earn the companion pass that points can really be worth $1,666.66 if you take a companion with you on every flight where you use points. Keep in mind though this is the valuation of today, starting March 31, 2014 points will be devalued and 50,000 points is worth $714.28. Still a great value for a credit card sign up, but unfortunate that there is a devaluation.

There are currently four different Southwest Airlines co-branded credit cards – 2 personal and 2 business and all four come with the 50,000 point offer that counts towards the companion pass. Remember, you must earn 110,000 qualifying points in the same calendar year to get your companion pass. The points also must hit the same account and cannot be transferred between accounts. If you and your spouse apply for the card, you both will end up with 52,000 points in your account, but they cannot be combined. An individual account must earn the 110,000 points.

Here are some of my top Southwest Companion Pass FAQs:

Flying limitations: With the companion pass there are no black out dates or seat restrictions – if there is a seat available for purchase, it is available for your companion. The companion pass can even be used if points were redeemed for a free flight. This can result in both passengers going FREE (plus the ~$5 taxes/passenger)!

Number of times the companion pass can be used: Unlimited! There is no cap on the number of times the pass can be used.

Who can be a companion: Anyone can be your companion – friends, family, a complete stranger. However, the companion pass can only be switched up to three times during the validity of the pass. Since you need to allocate your companion when getting the pass, this allows you 4 people to use the pass (those people can be repeated and put back on as the companion as well but counts as one of your allowed changes). To change your companion pass, call Southwest Customer Service (1-800-IFLYSWA) and they will easily assist you on the spot.

Companion pass expiration: The companion pass is valid the remainder of the year it was earned plus the following calendar year. For example, if you earn the pass November 2013, you will have it for the rest of 2013, plus 2014. If you earn the pass in January 2014, you will have it for the rest of 2014, plus 2015.

Credit card to help earn the companion pass: You can apply for the Southwest card here. There are four cards in total, two personal and two business versions, but remember, the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Comments

  1. I drove my wife crazy with the CP. While she may be glad to see it expire on 12/31, I’m not. We flew to multiple destinations using points + the free ride on the Companion Pass.
    We’re FLL bound. The point rate for a R/T ticket started at 12,000 miles IIRC. Last I checked, it was 8040 roundtrip. SW lets you make free changes, so I was able to save 4000 points. By the way, the 8040 points is for 1 person, and the other goes free. That makes the trip average 4020 points for a R/T ticket. You can’t do that on AA and UA.

    • I agree. Now is NOT the best time to apply for these cards. It’s October… Wait a few more months. All of your spend will count towards your cp then. First time I’ve ever complained on this blog, but I am fed up with the southwest cards being pushed so hard all over the place. According to all of the bloggers “NOW is the best time to get the southwest cards”… Whenever “now” may be

      • @Steve – I am not quite sure what the issue is. You have 3 months to spend the $2,000, which brings you into mid-January. If you spend all $2,000 come January 1st then all of the spend WILL count towards your companion pass. The 50,000 point bonus ends October 31, so if you are looking to get the companion pass for 2014 and 2015 then now is the time to apply for the card. The minimum spend you need to meet also can count if you plan it right.

  2. I have earned just over 110,000 points in calendar year 2013, mostly through credit cards signup bonuses. I called Southwest to see if I qualified for a companion pass, but according to the agent I spoke with, credit card points don’t count toward the 110,000 point requirement.

    Am I missing something?

  3. I think I see where the problem is. When I went back to the SWA website and asked it to show only my “Companion Pass Qualifying Points,” it excludes the 54,000 Ultimate Rewards Points that I transferred into my Rapid Rewards account. Apparently, points earned from Southwest Airlines-branded Visa cards count, but points transferred from Ultimate Rewards do not. Oh, well.

    Keep up the good work. Love reading your blog!

  4. gforce96

    It’s too late now but had you first converted UR points to Hyatt, you could then transfer to SWA for CP status. The ratio is not 1:1 however. Companion pass is only a good option for points conversion if you will actually use it several times in the calendar year.

  5. I had CP for my wife this year, but will not earn enough for 2014 by year end. cannot get bonused again even if I close the account for next year. If I put 2 cards with my wife as primary can she name herself as a companion of me? I am the one who pays for travel and earns points by travel? It wuld not work for me to be her companion.

    Thanks

    • @Carol – You need to earn 110,000 qualifying points to get the companion pass. You’ll earn 52,000 points after meeting the minimum spend on each credit card and you can get two cards.

  6. I was afraid I would be the companion. If I cancel the Chase SWA card, how long before I can apply and get promo points again? 1 year? 2 years? never get promo again???

    • @John – With Chase you typically cannot get the sign up bonus again for two years AFTER you have canceled the card. Although, send me an email for maybe another option.

  7. Hi,

    Does the Southwest Premiere and Plus card qualify you for the Companion Pass? Can you apply for two individual cards in the same month? Do you have to own a small business to apply for the small business card? Sorry for the silly questions but I can’t seem to find the answers anywhere.

    • @Alyson – Yes, all the cards count towards the companion pass. I had success applying for one personal and one business card.

  8. Can you get points from the business card and the personal card in the same name to meet the CP requirements on your RR account?

  9. Beside the “No Foreign Transaction Fees” and the different anniversary bonus, is there any benefit to the Premier Cards?

    It seems as though you pay the extra $30 a year for something that won’t really pay off for at least 8 years (assuming it’s about 25,000 points per round trip ticket – 8 years times 3000 extra points a year).

  10. I have both and, if you fly with them, there are lots of advantages over the regular card. For me the 1500 teir points per 10000 worth of purchases is worth it to get me to Alist or A+ faster. Only other way is to actually fly.
    Also do not assume any round trip is 25000 points like the legacy carriers. It can be higher or lower based upon the actual cost of a ticket. The higher the cost, the more points? An example is the week of Thanskgiving 2013 I have Family traveling Atl to Aus for 9040 points one way on a Tuesday and 11000+ back on a Saturday.

  11. Yeah, I figured that round trip wouldn’t always be 25,000 points. I just used that number because that’s what the application says the typical round trip flight costs.

    I’m not too concerned with getting to the A-list quicker as I do not fly that often and I am only getting these cards because my wife and I will be flying sometime next year and I figure I’ll save a considerable amount of money if all goes according to plan.

    So getting back to my original question; am I missing something big or are the only advantages the “No Foreign Transaction Fee” and the additional 3000 anniversary points (plus the A-list points)?

  12. I had a Plus personal and a Plus business card. I cancelled both this year. Can I apply for the Premier personal and Premier business card in late 2014 or early 2015 and get these new cards to use the bonus points for a new companion pass.

    • @JVM – Based on what I’ve read on other people’s experiences (not my own personal experience) you can get the 50,000 points for each of the four cards. Some folks have been able to create a new rapid rewards number to get the companion pass again.

  13. What if my wife and i both got the cards just for the intro bonus points (50,000) so we can take our 2 kids and ourselves to NY next year (2014).

    And then cancel both cards sometime late 2014. (because we are not frequent flyers)

    Are they any downsides to this plan that you know of?

  14. You and your wife would both need 2 cards each(4 cards) issued with 50000 points bonus and still need 10000 more points each. Seems like a lot of trouble if only flying once. Also would Chase allow 4 cards in one household?

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