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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 cards. The bonus points earned from their sign up bonuses DO COUNT towards the 110,000 points needed for the pass. BUT YOU NEED TO TIME IT RIGHT!
Once you earn the 110,000 points, you’ll receive the Companion Pass for the rest of that calendar year PLUS the entire next calendar year. So if you were to earn the pass right now, you’d have the pass until December 31, 2019. Now, if you were to earn all 110,000 points in January 2019, you’d have the pass until December 31, 2020! Earning the pass as early in the year as possible is typically ideal as it means you have the pass for longer. With that being said, it really all depends on when you are planning on taking your Southwest flights.
So let’s say you were to apply for two Southwest credit cards now. Usually the sign up offers require you to meet the minimum spend within the first three months. This means you’ll probably have until end of November to meet the minimum spend and the points will most likely post in December meaning you’ll have the pass for 2018 and 2019, not 2019 and 2020. And remember, you MUST earn the 110,000 points in a calendar year. Once January 1st hits, your points accrued towards the companion pass resets and you are back at 0.
If you are looking to earn the pass for 2019 and 2020, you’ll want to wait till October to apply for any of the Southwest credit cards to play it safe. The only issue with this is that we do not know what the offers will be at that point. If you are looking to earn the companion pass in this calendar year, you’ll want to apply for the cards now and meet your minimum spend asap so the points post quickly.
Remember, earlier this year Chase changed its rules where it will no longer approve you for two Southwest personal credit cards. You are only allowed to hold one at a time However, you can still apply for one business and one personal card to earn the companion pass.
Southwest Companion Pass FAQs
While this prior post lists out Everything You Need to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass, I put together an FAQ section to help answer all your questions.
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 flying for 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 per year. Since you need to allocate your companion when getting the pass, this allows you 4 people to use the pass per year (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 February 2018, you will have it for the rest of 2018, plus all of 2019.
My Experience with the Southwest Companion Pass
I’ve had the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass for over 10 years now. It’s been a really long time so I’ve completely lost track on the exact number of years! I’ve used it for flights to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Costa Rica, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Aruba, Cancun, Washington DC, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Dominican Republic, etc. I love that I can use the pass for my husband or one of my kids 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.
I personally love the Companion Pass as it has saved me a ton of money throughout the years. And I also love Southwest too, so getting a free flight on a Southwest flight is a double win for me. Let me know if you have any questions!