All three versions of the Southwest credit cards just increased their sign up bonus and are now offering a 60,000 point offer. While this is the best offer you’ll see and I am typically extremely very excited when this heightened offer comes around, right now (August 2017) is definitely not the best time to apply. You’ll want to wait until September or October 2017! The current offer expires October 4, 2017. You can learn about all the Airline credit card offers here.
The BEST THING about these offers are that the points earned from the credit card sign up currently count towards the 110,000 point required for the Southwest Companion Pass. FOR THIS REASONS ALONE RIGHT NOW IS NOT THE RIGHT TIME TO APPLY. That is because once you earn the companion pass, you’ll have it for the remainder of this calendar year plus the entire next calendar year. If you get the pass now, you are really falling short on the number of months the pass will be valid for. The ideal time to get the pass is to wait until the beginning of the calendar year. That will then give you almost two full years to have the Companion Pass. If you were to apply for the Southwest credit cards the points will hit your account within a few days of your statement closing when you hit the minimum spend. Let’s say you apply for the card today, hit the minimum spend right away, but your statement probably will not close till beginning of October, meaning you wont earn the pass till mid-October. That is giving you 14-15 months max of having the pass. Earn the pass in January, for example, and that will give you 23 months of having another passenger fly with you for free an unlimited number of times! The best time to actually apply for the card is in October, November, or December . That is because you have 3 months to meet the minimum spend, so apply for the cards in the 4th quarter and then wait until January 1 to put on that last dollar of minimum spend. That will allow the points to post in 2018 and then give you the pass for all of 2018 and 2019! Qualifying companion points expire at the end of the calendar year and do not carry over to the following year!
Of course, if you are only 60,000 points shy of the pass right now, then it is a good time to apply to at least get the pass for next year.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
For those new to the Southwest Companion Pass, I want to quickly point out that this pass allows another passenger to fly with you for FREE an UNLIMITED number of times! As long as there is one seat available, you can book your companion a ticket. There are NO restrictions and NO blackout dates. Not only that, even if the main passenger is flying on a free ticket with points, you can still use the companion pass! So that means on your first few flights, you can use the sign up bonus points earned from the credit card PLUS a companion can fly with you. So while 110,000 points are worth approx $1,154, if a companion flies with you on these flights, then that is essentially doubling the value of the sign up bonus!
This means that if you get two of these cards, you’ll immediately earn the companion pass after the points from the sign up offer post to your account. Points post to your account a few days after your statement closes after you meet the minimum spend. As mentioned above, if you earn the 110,000 points required that will earn you the Companion Pass for the rest of 2017 and then all of 2018. I personally would prefer to earn the pass at the way beginning of a calendar year as that’ll give me more months to use the path, but you’ll still get a year and a half to use it.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Once you accrue the necessary 110,000 points to earn the companion pass status, the pass will be available for you the entire year it was earned PLUS the entire following calendar year. So if you earn the pass now, your pass with be active for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018
- You cannot combine points between two accounts to count for the companion pass.
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Reward points to Southwest DO NOT count towards the companion pass, but transferring hotel points DO count (through March 31, 2017)
- Your companion can fly with you an UNLIMITED number of times during the life of the pass. You can change your companion 3 times per year.
- The only amount your companion pays is the tax which is $5.60 per one-way. International flights are more and depends on where you are flying to/from.
- You CAN use the companion pass when the main passenger is flying on a free ticket!
What are the sign up bonus points worth?
For those who are new to Southwest, 60,000 points is worth approximately $840 towards a future “Wanna Getaway” fare. Remember, the 60,000 points earned from the credit card sign up after meeting the spend requirements count towards reaching companion pass status, which is by far my favorite aspect of the Southwest program. Also you are not actually redeeming your points for the companion pass, but you are receiving the pass ON TOP of the points earned to redeem for free flights!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Unfortunately, these cards are not available to those that have received a bonus within the past 24 months. However, if you applied for one card recently, you are still eligible to earn the bonus points for another card as they are three separate products. Also keep in mind that the Southwest credit cards are subject to Chase’s “5/24” rule.
- Getting the Southwest Companion Pass
- Southwest Airlines Companion Pass Blog Series
- Southwest Rapid Reward Program Blog Series
Let me know if you have any questions!