Be Strategic: When to Apply for the Southwest Credit Cards

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With the increased Southwest credit card bonus offers ending tomorrow, June 10, you might be wondering if right now is the best time to apply for the card. Or, maybe you should wait until later this year to apply? The best time really depends on your end goal…

While the points you receive just for signing up are great, one of the real reasons many readers apply for these cards is due to earning the amazing Southwest Companion Pass. The Southwest Companion Pass allows another passenger to fly with you for free an unlimited number of times for the life of the pass!

Key Links: 

Southwest Credit Card, Southwest Companion Pass

Applying for the Southwest credit cards will get you one step closer to the Southwest Companion Pass

Fortunately, the 60,000 points earned from the sign up offer count towards the 110,000 qualifying points to earn the pass. If your goal is to earn the pass primarily by applying for the Southwest credit cards, you’ll want to be strategic in your timing. The pass expires December 31st the year AFTER the pass is earned.

Earning the Pass for 2019 and 2020

If you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass to use in 2019 and 2020 then right now is the perfect opportunity to apply for the credit cards. You’ll actually want to apply as soon as possible and then also meet the minimum spend quickly. This will allow you to start using the pass sooner than later. It’ll also give you about a year and a half with the pass which is still great!

Unfortunately, Chase changed the rules last year where you couldn’t have two personal Southwest credit cards open at the same time. Although they still allow you to have a personal and business card open. This means you can earn 60k points with one of three personal cards and then 60k points with the business card. This will then give you 120,000 points from the welcome offers alone. Since you only need 110,000 qualifying points to earn the pass, you’ll receive the pass right off the bat. Hello free flying!

TIP: The points earned from the welcome offer will post to your account within 2-3 business days after your statement closes where you meet the minimum spend.

Earning the Pass for 2020 and 2021

If you are not flying Southwest in 2019 and instead believe you’ll fly more in 2020 and 2021, then you might want to hold off on earning the pass right now. With the Southwest Credit Card offers you have three months to meet the minimum spend requirement. That brings you through the end of summer at the latest if you were to apply now — meaning the points will post in 2019. The 110,000 qualifying points must be earned in the same calendar year and qualifying points do not carry over to the following year. On January 1st, the counter will start back at zero.

For this situation, you’ll want all points to post in 2020. Best scenario is when points post in January 2020 so you’ll have the pass as long as possible. Ideally, applying for the Southwest credit cards in the fall works well for this situation. You apply for the cards between October and December and then meet the minimum spend on January 1. If this is your ideal timing, you’ll want to hold off on applying for the cards now.

The only problem with this timing is that there is no saying what the credit card offers might be come this Fall. In the past many years we’ve always seen an increased offer during this timeframe, but there is no guarantee.


The Southwest credit cards are a great way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, but you’ll want to make sure to time it correctly. I’ve had the pass for the past 11 years and it has saved my family thousands of dollars over the years. I love the flexibility that Southwest offers and the fact that I can use my points to fly for free while also adding my companion to the ticket. The Companion Pass is extremely easy to use with hardly any restrictions. As long as there is one seat left for sale on the flight, the seat is yours. No blackout dates or anything.

Learn more about Southwest Companion Pass

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  1. How do you have it for 11 years? After qualifying by getting the cards, then what do you do after the two years run out? Just spend that same qualifying amount each year? Seems a lot!

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