This is post #5 in a series discussing the Southwest Rapid Rewards program:
This series contains:
- Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
- Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
- Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
- Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
- Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
- Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights
- Transferring Points to Southwest
- Transferring Points/Credits between AirTran and Southwest
- Extending the Life of Free Flights from Rapid Reward 1.0 Program
- Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
- Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
- Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
- Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price
To earn the companion pass you must have 100 qualifying one-way flights or 110,000 Qualifying Points in the same calendar year. You can earn Qualifying Points with credit card spend, Rapid Reward partners (i.e., Marriott, Avis, Hyatt), and flying Southwest. The easiest option, in my opinion, is to earn these points by applying for a Southwest Airlines credit card. The offers are typically 25,000 points or 50,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirements. The bonus points earned DO count towards the 110,000 points needed to earn the companion pass. There are four versions of the card and you are able to apply for more then one card offer.
Getting the remaining points to earn the companion pass is easy with partner activity and credit card spend. You can also transfer points from hotels to get these additional points (Chase Ultimate Reward transfers will not count). While there is always the chance that the credit card bonus points will eventually not count towards the companion pass, as of today it does.
If you do not believe you’ll have need for the companion pass the remainder of the year, you can let this offer pass and hope this higher bonus offer makes a re-appearance at the end of the calendar year/beginning of next year.
I personally took advantage of this credit card offer in November 2011 and did not hit my minimum spend until 2012. Because of that I had the companion pass all throughout 2012 and continue to have it through the rest of the year. I’ve actually earned the companion pass prior to this in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Due to this, Mr. Deals has been able to fly with me for FREE on many flights. I’ve also had my mom and sister fly with me as well. I’ve been able to use the companion pass on the following flights: New York – Detroit, Hartford – New Orleans, New York – New Orleans, New York – Ft. Lauderdale (3x), New York – Los Angeles, New York – San Francisco, New York – Salt Lake City. If you value each round-trip at around $300, this companion pass has saved me $2,800! Of course, other airlines might have been slightly cheaper for the paying passenger, but not much.
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 April 3013, you will have it for the rest of 2013, plus 2014. If you were to put it off and hopefully 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: As mentioned previously, there are three different Southwest cards – ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements, but different annual fees and annual bonuses. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog post. You can learn more about all Airline credit card offers here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. While my goal for you is to travel on a deal, this is one I highly support as I’ve had the companion pass for many years!