With the announcement that Southwest is flying to Hawaii just this past week, it is good to know that you can use the amazing Southwest Companion Pass on this route! I’ve been waiting a few years for Southwest to finally start flying to Hawaii and since I am already a Companion Pass holder, I definitely see a family trip in the near future! It has been 10 years since I’ve been to Hawaii, so I think it is time—especially since we will fly for free with Southwest Rapid Reward points and the companion pass! Aloha here we come… in 2020
For those new to the Companion Pass concept, it allows a friend or family member to fly with you for almost FREE an UNLIMITED number of times during the life of the pass. The pass is valid through December 31st the year following when it was earned. Earn it today, it will expire December 31, 2020. Earn it January 1st of next year, you’ll have it through December 31, 2021! This is literally a no strings attached pass with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
While the incredibly low fares to Hawaii sold out the day they were launched, there are still some good deals to be had, especially if your companion can fly with you for almost free—your only out of pocket expense for the Companion is the taxes and fees which is just $11.20 roundtrip! Although for some odd reason, if you are only looking at a one-way trip the cost will be $14.90. This is pretty darn inexpensive in my book to get to Hawaii! And the best part is that the first passenger can use points to fly for free as well!
If you were able to grab a low fare and want someone to fly with you for free, or if you are planning on booking a flight in the future to Hawaii on Southwest, here are some ways to earn the Companion Pass.
Earning the Companion Pass
Getting the Companion Pass requires you to earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Points earned do not roll over to the following calendar year and the counter resets January 1st. This means you”ll want to be strategic for when you earn the points.
- Flying to Hawaii in 2019: You’ll have to earn all 110,000 points this year prior to your departure date. Make sure to give yourself a month or two buffer to ensure you actually earn the pass in time. Even if you have not yet earned the pass, you can still book your flight to Hawaii and then add your companion on later. The only requirement is that there is at least one seat left available for sale when it is time to add on your companion.
- Flying to Hawaii in 2020: If you are flying in the early part of 2020, you might want to earn the pass in 2019. Since the pass will be valid for this year and next, you’ll still be able to use it for next years flight. If you wait until next year to earn the pass, you’ll need to make sure that you earn the 110,000 qualifying points in time. How you are able to earn the points will determine when is the right time to earn the pass. The benefit of earning it in 2020 is that you’ll then have the pass for all of 2020 and 2021.
1. Apply for the Southwest Card Credits
One of the best ways to earn a massive amount of qualifying points quickly is to apply for the Southwest Credit Cards. There are actually three card options and all points earned on the welcome offer fortunately count towards the pass. There are three personal cards and one business cards, and while Chase will allow you to apply for both one personal and one business, they will no longer allow you have both personal cards open at the same time.
- Southwest Business Credit Card — Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on the card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card — Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($149 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card— Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card — Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Business Credit Card — Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on the card
Right now, only the business version of the card is offering an increased offer. So if you are not in a rush to earn the points, then you might want to hold off on applying for the personal cards until a better offer comes around. Chances are we will see a 50,000-60,000 point offer by summer time, but that is just my best guess. But if you need the pass ASAP, applying for both one personal and one business will still give you 100,000 points right off the bat. And since regular spend on the card counts as well, that will earn you another 4,000 points on just meeting the minimum spend requirements between the two, for a total of 104,000 points. This means you’ll only need another 6,000 points!
TIP: Points from the welcome offer will hit your account 2-3 days after your statement closes where you’ve hit the minimum spend.
2. Spend more money on your Southwest credit card!
All spend put on your new or existing Southwest credit card counts towards the Companion Pass. While 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. Remember, every dollar spent earns 1 Southwest point, so this is decent amount of spend on the card to earn the pass. I personally have been able to use the bill pay system Plastiq to pay some bills on my credit card – while there is a fee associated with it, it can be worth it to earn the Companion Pass!
TIP: Points earned from credit card spend will not hit your Southwest point until 2-3 business days after your statement close date. This means only spend made up until your December statement close date will count towards this years qualifying point progress. And if your statement happens to close towards the end of the month, you might want to make sure all spend is complete by your November statement close date instead.
3. 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. You’ll have to check to see if your Southwest credit card account is offering this promotion. If you are eligible to refer a friend and the person you refer applies, gets approved, and meets the minimum spend requirement, you will typically receive a 10,000 point bonus, which is amazing! Although Southwest does cap the number of points you can earn at 50,000 points.
TIP: Make sure the offer for your friend through the referral link is the best available offers. Sometimes the refer-a-friend link offers different promotions than what is publicly available—sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse, and sometimes it is the exact same offer.
4. Use the Southwest online shopping portal
Southwest has their own Rapid Rewards 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.
TIP: Shopping portal bonuses, such as spend X amount and earn Y bonus points are not qualifying points and do NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
5. Fly Southwest
When you fly Southwest on paid fares, the points earned will count towards the Companion Pass. You might want to consider actually paying for your flights for this year (instead of using points) and waiting to use your points next or until you secure the Companion Pass. This is one of the few scenarios on when I’d actually suggest paying instead of flying for free on points. You’ll earn the following number of points per flight:
- Wanna Get Away Fare: 6 points per dollar spent
- Anytime Fare: 10 points per dollar spent
- Business Select Fare: 12 points per dollar spent
6. Partner promotions
Southwest has many partners where you can actually earn Southwest Rapid Reward points for hotel stays, car rentals, and even purchasing flowers!
- Rocketmiles — Rocketmiles is a third-party booking system which means you will not earn hotel points for the hotel where you are staying. Instead, you’ll earn airline miles of your choice and the number of miles earned depends on the specific hotel usually tied to the price of the stay. You can earn anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points per stay. One thing to note is that bonus points earned do NOT count as qualifying points, just the regular points earned. I have shared my experience with what counts/does not count here. If you have an upcoming hotel stay, booking your hotel through Rocketmiles and forgoing any benefits by booking through the hotel itself might be beneficial.
- Chain Hotels — 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.
- Car Rentals — 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. If you are very close to earning the pass, find a few cheap one day rentals and call it a day!
- Flowers — Use 1-800-FLOWERS and earn 1,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points on every purchase over $29.99. Just make sure to use promotion code RR22.
I am personally a huge fan of the pass, especially since I’ve had it for about 11 years now! I’ve been able to fly a family member or friend with me for free many times throughout the year saving a ton of points and points. Now that Hawaii is on the map, this is one of the best reasons to have it—especially since Hawaii is pretty awesome
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