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Earlier today I wrote about one of the easiest ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018 and 2019. The strategy is to apply for two of their co-branded credit cards, earn the 60,000 points PER card (for a total of 120,000 points), and viola, the companion pass is yours! But what if you only can/want to apply for one of the cards, or no cards at all. There are other ways to earn points towards the 110,000 point requirement, although it will take some work. Remember, points reset on January 1st of every single year and do not roll over. So if you want to earn the pass for 2018 and 2019, make sure the points do not hit your Southwest account till January 1. If you want to earn the pass for 2017 and 2019, make sure the points hit your account by December 31st. You can learn about all the Airline credit card offers here.
Top 9 Ways to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass:
1. Get two Southwest Rapid Reward credit cards
This is probably the #1 easiest way to earn the companion pass. The points earned from the sign up bonus currently count DO count towards the companion pass. As of right now, the Southwest credit cards are offering a 60,000 point bonus. If you are able to get two of these cards that will give you 120,000 points and give you the companion pass right off the bat. Each card serves as their own product, so you can receive the sign up bonus per card you are approved for. You can learn more about the getting the two credit cards to get the Southwest Companion Pass here.
2. Spend a lot of money throughout the year!
If you already have a Southwest credit card and are not eligible to earn another sign up bonus, all spend put on your card counts towards the sign up bonus. Unfortunately, the Southwest credit card is not one that would be my typical go-to card since there are no category bonuses (except for purchasing a Southwest flight), if your goal is to earn the companion pass, then this could be a good option. With that being said, since every dollar spent earns 1 Southwest points, you’ll need to put a total of $110,000 on your Southwest credit card! That is a ton of money for most people. For those that have a business or are into manufactured spend, this could work. Probably not so obtainable for the everyday person! But this can be a way to earn points towards the pass along with some of the other methods detailed in this post.
Remember though, while points earned are for the calendar year, any purchases made after your December statement close date will count towards the following year. For example, if your statement close date is on the 15th of every month, all purchases made between December 16 and December 31st will not hit your account till the following year.
3. Use the Southwest online shopping portal
Southwest has their own shopping portal where if you go through the site first, you’ll earn bonus points for your every day online shopping. While I do not find the Southwest portal as competitive as some of the other points, miles, and cash back shopping portal sites, all points earned DO count towards the companion pass. If you do a ton of shopping online, the points definitely add up! Keep in mind that some stores take about 8-10 weeks to report the sales, while others might only take a week or two. While getting 110,000 points online on shopping portals might be aggressive, if you are committed to it and shop during high payouts, you could do well. Keep in mind though that bonuses throughout the year, such as spend X amount earn Y bonus points do NOT count towards the companion pass.
4. Buy and sell
While this is a lot of effort, I know there are many people out there who earn the companion pass through a “buying and selling” method. When there is a really good online shopping portal payout (read #3) you can purchase items online and then resell. And if you use your Southwest credit card, that will only increase the number of points you earn. While you will probably not break even and still be out some money, the cost to purchase the pass will probably be extremely insignificant compared to the savings you’ll receive by buying the pass. While I have never earned the pass by this method, there was a great Sears payout a few years ago where a few blogger friends took advantage. You can read their stories here: The Frequent Miler purchasing and reselling gift cards and Points with a Crew earning 19x points per dollar spend. But keep in mind, Southwest portal payouts have not been so great lately.
5. Fly Southwest
While this works great for those that fly Southwest often on paid fare, most likely business travelers, the every day person will not be able to earn the companion pass solely on flying. Although, when you do fly, the points earned can help you continue to earn qualifying points. 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
Earning the companion pass just by flying requires you to spend over $18,000 over throughout the year (assuming you are flying on a “Wanna Get Away Fare”! There are times that they ofter double points towards the companion pass, but many times they are targeted offers and few and far between. But if you are just shy of earning the pass, make sure to pay for your upcoming ticket instead of using points since reservations using points will not earn points.
6. Book hotel stays through Rocketmiles
Rocketmiles is a third-party booking system which means you will not earn hotel points for the hotel you are staying. Instead, you’ll earn airline miles of your choice and the number of miles earns depends on the specific hotel usually tied to the price of the stay. You can earn anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 airline miles per stay, and Southwest is one of the partners. All regular points earned through Rocketmiles that are credited towards Southwest DO count towards the companion pass. However, any bonus points earned do NOT count. I recently stayed at a hotel booked through Rocketmiles and selected Southwest as my airline of choice. I have shared my experience with what counts/does not count here.
7. Refer your friends to the Southwest credit card
Many times throughout the year, Southwest will give existing card members a bonus for referring the card to friends and family members. If the person you referred applies, gets approved, and meets the minimum spend requirement, you will receive a 5,000-10,000 point bonus (depending on the promotion). Currently, these bonus points DO count towards the companion pass. Right now, unfortunately, the refer a friend offer is significantly less then the current publicly available offer.
8. Credit your hotel stays to Southwest
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, La Quinta, Marriott, MLife, and Starwood. 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.
9. Credit your car rentals to Southwest
You will earn 600 Southwest Rapid Reward points per rental with the following car rental companies: Alamo, Avis*, Budget*, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty. With Avis and Budget, only participating locations allow you to earn partner miles/points, which is typically just onsite airport locations.
REMEMBER – POINTS TRANSFERRED FROM HOTELS NO LONGER COUNT TOWARDS THE COMPANION PASS!
By far the easiest way to earn the pass is by applying for the Southwest credit cards. Of course, you cannot just apply year after since Chase has put some pretty restrictive rules in place for applying for their cards. I personally am able to to accrue a ton of points throughout the year just by using their shopping portal. While their portal doesn’t always pay out as high as some of the cash back portals (such as Ebates or TopCashBack), it helps me earn my way to the companion pass year after year.
What are some ways you’ve earned the pass?!
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card within the first 3 months; $69 annual fee. This card will earn you 3,000 bonus points on your account anniversary. You can learn more about Airline credit card offers here.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 on the card within the first 3 months; $99 annual fee. This card will earn you 6,000 bonus points on your account anniversary. You can learn more about Airline credit card offers here.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months; $99 annual fee. This card will earn you 6,000 bonus points on your account anniversary. You can learn more about this credit card offer here.
*If you have any questions on which credit card to apply for, feel free to email me!