Strategic Timing for the Southwest Credit Cards – When to Apply and When to Spend

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Yesterday I put together two different different blog posts detailing how to get the Southwest Companion Pass: Earning the Southwest Companion Pass for 2017 and 2018 and Many Ways to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass. For those not aware of the Southwest Companion Pass, it allows a companion (friend, family member, complete stranger, whoever!) to fly with you an UNLIMITED number of times for FREE (plus taxes). The companion pass is valid for the remainder of the year it is earned plus the entire following year. So if you plan it accordingly you can get 23 months of use out of pass.

Key Links:

  • 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. You can learn more about Airline credit cards here.
  • 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. You can learn more about Airline credit cards here.
  • 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. You can learn more about this credit card here.

*If you have any questions on which credit card to apply for, feel free to email me!

One of the best and easiest ways to earn the companion pass is by applying for two different Southwest credit cards (there are a total of 3 Southwest credit card products). Right now, all three cards are offering 60,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on the card. The points earned from the sign up bonus DO count towards the companion pass. You need a total of 110,000 points – get two credit cards now and that will give you 120,000 points. Remember, Chase will typically only approve you for 2 cards in a 30 day period, so if you’ve recently applied for another Chase card, getting approved for two Southwest cards might be difficult.

It is very important to know when to apply for the card and when to meet the minimum spend. Follow the directions below to make sure you do not mess up the timing!

If you want the points to count towards the 2018 and 2019 pass

If you want to earn the pass for 2018 and 2019 you’ll want to make sure all points post on January 1, 2018 or after. Points earned in 2017 DO NOT carry over!

If you apply/applied for the card in September: 

If you have already applied for the card or planning on applying for this card during the month of September, you’ll need to take an extra step to ensure that your points post in 2018 and not in 2017. For example, if you applied and got approved for the card on September 10, 2017, you’ll have to spend the required $2,000 by December 10, 2017. Most likely your statement close date will be on the 17th-ish of every month. That means you’ll meet the minimum spend requirement prior to your December close date. And the 60,000 points earned from the card will post a few days after that December close date. So if the close date is December 17th, for example, the points will post probably December 22nd-ish. That means the points earned will post in 2017 and NOT 2018 – you do not want this to happen!

You need to change your statement close date! To make sure your points post in 2018, you’ll need to change your statement close date. Typically it takes a billing cycle for the statement close date to change, so you’ll want to do this NOW. Call Chase and ask to change your statement close date to the 1st of every month. That means your statement close date in December will take place before you need to meet the minimum spend. So you’ll want to wait until December 2nd to meet the minimum spend (and by your 3 month expiration date). The points will then post a few days after your January statement close date. So if your statement close date is January 1, 2018, the points will probably post January 6ish. You’ll then have access to your companion pass for the rest of 2018 and 2019!

I also suggest calling Southwest to double check when your 3 month expiration period ends. Some Chase cards start the day you are approved while others wait until the date the card is sent to you. So double check so you are not late meeting that minimum spend!

If you apply for the card in October:

The 60,000 point sign up bonus expires October 4, 2017, so you have time in October to apply. Applying October 2-4 is definitely my recommended time to apply if you have not yet applied. You then will not need to worry about changing your statement close date. Apply October 2nd, for example, and you’ll have until January 2, 2018 to meet your minimum spend requirement. Although, call Southwest to double check your 3 month expiration date. Come January 1, 2018 meet your minimum spend requirement. While you can always meet it after your December close date, I recommend just waiting till January 1st to ensure there is no room for error. Your 60,000 points will then post after your January statement close date, which will probably be January 10th-ish. You’ll then have the companion pass for the remainder of 2018 and all of 2019!

You can also put $1,999 on the card in 2017 and apply that final dollar on January 1st. Remember, the annual fee for the card does NOT count towards the minimum spend requirement.

If you want the points to post in 2017

If you already have a healthy balance of points counting towards the companion pass and are looking to apply for one of the cards for the 60,000 points to post in 2017, you can apply at any point between now and when the sign up bonus expires on October 4, 2017.

Make sure to meet the minimum spend before your December statement date. Points post a few days after your statement close date, NOT after meeting the minimum spend. So you’ll want to meet your minimum spend PRIOR to your statement closing in December. If you meet the minimum spend AFTER your statement close date in December, the points will not post until January and will not count towards 2017. That means the points you’ve already accrued towards the companion pass will expire and will not carry over to 2018. You need to earn the 110,000 points in the same calendar year.

Hopefully this information helps and ensures you properly earn the companion pass when you were hoping to do so. Feel free to comment below or email with any questions. I’ve had the companion pass for the past 10+ years and it has saved me a ton of money!

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  1. Thank you for the tip! I was trying to think this through last night when I read your previous post and had decided that October 1st was the date I would apply. This solidifies it.

  2. I’m getting ready to close a Southwest card I’ve had for 5 years. Was waiting for my anniversary points to post this month. If I close this card in September and apply for 2 new Southwest cards on October 4, will I get approved ? I’m under 5/24 with excellent credit score.

    1. @Yvette – It is ultimately up to the bank but it seems like you should be good. As long as you haven’t received a sign up bonus in 24 months, have not applied for a Chase card in the past 30 days, under 5/24, and have good credit, you should be in good shape.

  3. So, the same person (with one Rapid Rewards account) needs to apply for both cards as opposed to a husband and wife each getting one card. Is that the suggested strategy?

  4. My husband and I both plan to apply for personal and business cards – 2 each. Can we apply for all on Oct. 2nd? Or should we space them out by a day or 2?

  5. I’m a rapid rewards member, and I have received an email saying the 60K bonus expires October 1st. Has the expiration changed, or were they just trying to get me to apply now? Every day later helps, but I don’t want to miss out on the bonus.

  6. Couple of questions:

    1. Can you confirm the expiration date for this offer – one of the comments mentioned Oct 1 while your post mentions Oct4?

    2. To confirm I understand how the statement change date works – If I apply on September 30 and get approved – my first statement would end Oct 30, second statement Nov 30 and third statement Dec 30 – so my point would post to my account in January 2017 – is that correct understanding from reading your post?

    1. @Chetan – I’ve seen two dates – both Oct 1 and Oct 4, so I am not 100% sure right now. I am sure we will have an exact confirmation prior to the end of the month. Statement dates do not follow the exact same application/approval date. So if you were to apply September 30, chances are your statement close date would be maybe the 10th of every month. So you’d want to change it to the 1st, if you can. With that being said, many people are being given 115 days to complete minimum spend.

  7. I had hoped this post would settle what are two (or more!) raging uncertainties about this promo — and getting the 60K bonus to post in 2018 — rather than end of this year (2017.) Yet despite the length of your post, I’m still not clear on the following::

    1. As is widely being discussed elsewhere, is it really true that Chase actually gives us 115 days from date new SWA card is approved? (for any of them?) That is, from the date of approval — not application or receipt dates. (critical distinctions you curiously don’t mention) Or is this just lots of anecdotal reports, but nothing anywhere in writing…. ?

    2. If it really is only “3 months?” You seem to be presuming it’s exactly 90 days — or is it? October and December have 31 days . And even if we wait until Jan. 2nd. (assuming we get the card after Oct. 1st), can you say for sure that purchases on Jan 2nd will actually be credited on Jan. 2nd? (really risky assumption — I’ve had posting dates delayed several days AFTER actual transaction)

    3. Oh, and you don’t even help your readers comprehend that they don’t need to do all 2k spend in 2018 — just the crossing of the threshold then. No? (again, really sloppy advice)

    4. Last, worst piece of advise you’re offering here: NEVER, EVER rely on just what you’re told on the phone by a Chase rep….. YOU NEED IT IN WRITING. (by secure message channel) Therein, however, is a problem — how do you get such correspondence on a card you don’t have yet.

  8. I received the bonus on my December 2015 statement (terrible mistake on my part!) so my husband had to get the companion pass for 2016 and 2017. I closed my business and personal accounts in July this year so that I can apply and get it in my name. Is it safe to apply now so that the bonus hits in January? I guess I want to make sure of what the 24 months is based off of, when the bonus hits or when you apply for the card?

    1. @Ashbris – That is actually a great question. I’ve personally never applied for another card exactly after the 2 year mark so cannot say from personal experience. My assumption would be from the month when you applied for the card. So if you applied in September 2015, you should be able to apply October 2017. Right now the business sign up offer isn’t going anywhere, so there is also no rush to apply, unless you have a big purchase to make that will help your minimum spend.

  9. I want to share how the pass will/has work(ed) for me. I got both cards on October 1st of this year to qualify for the 60k bonus. The billing period on both cards ends in the 24th of the month. Chase uses the bill ENDING date which is what I experienced in the past. I sent an email to Chase and asked them what the absolute last day was that I could make purchases to receive the 60,000 points. Their response was 1/24. This is consistent with how my husband’s pass worked when we got it a few years ago, but his date was the 17th rather than the 24th. I made purchases, waited for the statement, then went to the southwest site the next morning and saw the points post in my history. That changed the 110,000 point “meter” by the number of points I earned. Once those points reached 110,000, Southwest gave me the pass. My plan this time is to spend about $1500 (I’ve already hit that mark) on each card then put them away until after I see the 12/24 statement. After Christmas, I’m free to spend the last $500 or more on each card. When the bill drops on 1/24, I will get 60,000 bonus points on each statement which will transfer to Southwest, and I will be eligible for the companion pass.

    Both times I’ve done the companion pass, the date that is relevant is the date the statement drops, not the date you applied for the card. If the timing is bad, do as noted in the post and ask for a new statement date. Also, use the secure email in the Chase website to get the exact date. That way you have plenty of backup in case something doesn’t go exactly as planned. Lastly, if you are someone that has to really work hard to reach the $2,000 minimum spend, make sure all of the items have posted to the statement before it drops. If you buy something on the 24th that just gets you to $2k, it won’t count until the next statement. It would be horrible to get to $1,990 and miss out because you bought something a few days too late.

    My experience with Chase is that they have always upheld their end of the contract, as long as you follow the rules.

    Good luck everyone!

    1. Hi! I applied 2 years ago on January 2. My companion pass is just ending at the end of this year. I read through your comment, and am wondering when you think I can reapply for a new card? And do I need to cancel my two current cards before I try to get two new cards to do the companion pass again? Thanks in advance for your help!

      1. @Kari – Happy to help! Chase does not allow you to receive a sign up bonus if you are currently a cardmember or if you’ve received a sign up bonus within the past 24 months. So you will need to cancel the two cards, and you should be good to apply January/February time frame of 2018.

  10. My points came through for card number 1 as planned Jan 2nd statement end date.
    It was a week after statement close date, compared to the regular posting to SWA account, but still fast.
    I had secure messaged Chase about last spend date (separate message for each account) they said Jan25th for each account (opened Oct 1-2 ish’) Previously a phone person lazily said “Jan 2nd” but I’m sure the were just thinking exactly “3 months”.
    I also had messaged Chase on both accounts asking if Visa gift cards would count towards the spend, and both answers were “Yes” so I bought two $500 cards at Safeway to push the first account over the minimum spend. My other card has statement end date of 22nd, so in a week I’ll figure out how much more I need (easy” with the account downloadable spreadsheet, delete payment and fee cells then auto-sum) Safeway was a good choice because you could get $500 an only have $5-$6 fee which I had a coupon for $10 off VISA gift card purchase so I saved the fee.

    I’m hoping for another Safeway coupon on my account, then my path is clear.
    I paid a year in advance on my cell service, and bought a bunch of restaurant cards around Christmas when they were giving 20% bonus stuff for buying gift cards, etc etc

    Now I just have to figure out who to put down as companion since it turn out you can’t pick someone for each flight, so my meaningless weekend dating strategy took a hit.

    Any idea how long you have to keep card before you can cancel it and not lose the bonus points?

    Great find !!!

  11. I am trying to receive the companion pass. I am retired with no credit card debt, just car and mortgage.
    I applied for a Southwest card , but was rejected due to already have a southwest card. What should I do ?

    1. @Dan – Do you already have that exact Southwest credit card? If it is a different Southwest card, call the Chase reconsideration line and they should be able to push the approval through. They are sometimes automatically denying people as they think it was an accident applying for two different Southwest cards.

  12. Any suggestions for when to apply this year in terms of timing – specifically, should I wait for a better (60-65K) deal on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card, or just go for the 40K deal now? I don’t plan on getting a business card because- I will be doing a lot (weekly) of solo Southwest travel for the first six months of the year. But I want those purchases and flights to count, and we generally put a lot on our credit cards as well.

    1. @Mark Shen – Since you are looking for the points to count towards the 2019-2020 Companion Pass, there is no rush to get the credit card now. I’d wait a month or so and see if a better offer comes out. It will not go below 40,000 points, so there is no reason not to wait.


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