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If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you are probably already aware that the Southwest Companion pass is my favorite benefit in the entire travel world! With this pass, a companion can fly with you an UNLIMITED number of times for the calendar year it is earned plus the following calendar year. While there are many ways to earn the pass, the easiest way is by signing up for their credit card (if you are okay with that).
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card – $99/year fee, but you receive 6,000 points after year cardmember year – which is worth about $86 towards a future Southwest “Wanna Getaway” fare.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card – $99/year fee, but you receive 6,000 points after year cardmember year – which is worth about $86 towards a future Southwest “Wanna Getaway” fare.
**This bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new Cardmember bonus for this product in the past 24 months.
Currently, two of the credit cards are offering a 50,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 on the card within the first three months. As of today, the 50,000 points DO COUNT towards the 110,000 points required to obtain the pass. Apply for two Southwest cards (yes, you are allowed to have two Southwest credit cards in your wallet) and that will give you 100,000 points. Now, if you call Southwest to inquire if the points count towards the companion pass they will most likely tell you no. Do not be discouraged, in my experience they have no idea what they are talking about (Sorry Southwest!).
So lets say you apply for the two cards now. Since you have 90 days to meet the minimum spend, you will want to wait until January 1, 2016 to actually spend that last dollar. The 50,000 points will not post to your account until a few days after your statement closes. You can still put spend on the card in 2015, but do not put more than $1,999 on it. I’d recommend waiting till 2016 though as the money spent will then count towards the points needed to meet the 110,000 points. Whatever hits a statement credit in 2015 will count towards the 2015 requirements of meeting the companion pass status and those points DO NOT carry over to 2016.
Other Ways to Earn the Required Points
As I mentioned above, you need 110,000 qualifying points to earn the companion pass. The Southwest credit card (assuming you apply with the current 50,000 point offer), will give you 50,000 points per card. If you apply for two cards that will give you a total of 100,000 points. All spend put on the card also counts. Every dollar equals one point. So if you wait to put $2,000 on each card in 2016, that will give you another 4,000 points for a total of 104,000 points. That means you only need another 6,000 points to get the pass. A few ways to earn these points:
- Additional credit card spend
- Flying Southwest Airlines
- Transferring hotel points to Southwest (note: Hyatt is the best transfer ratio or Marriott’s Flights + Nights packages; and Chase Ultimate Reward transfers DO NOT count)
- Southwest Airlines shopping portal
- Earning Southwest points for travel partners (i.e., hotel stays, car rentals, supershuttle, etc.)
Personally, I find credit card spend, transferring hotel points, and the Southwest Airlines shopping portal to be the easiest.
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 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 January 2016, you will have it for the rest of 2016, plus 2017.
My Experience with the Southwest Companion Pass
I’ve had the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass for about 8 years now. I’ve used it for flights to Florida, Costa Rica, California, Aruba, Denver, Salt Lake City, etc. I probably use it on average 3-4 times a year. I also love that I can use the pass for my husband while redeeming points for my flight. And Southwest flights can be canceled with no fee!! If you use points, the points go straight back into your account. If you pay for the flight, you receive a voucher for the amount paid to be used within a year of the date purchased.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Note: This post DOES NOT contain affiliate links. I am pushing this because it is my favorite perk in the entire travel industry!!!