The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is one of the best travel perks you can have. It’s both easy to use and can save you a ton of money. I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about it and you how you can earn it. If fact, I’m going to show you a way you can have the Companion Pass for almost two years!
What Is The Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is exactly what it sounds like. The pass allows you to bring a designated companion along with you on any flight for FREE (though you do need to pay taxes associated with the ticket). Plus, there are NO blackout dates. The best part about it is that the Companion Pass works for tickets you purchase with cash, as well as on reward flights.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going, or how often you fly, your companion can join you. You can use it on their new flights to Hawaii, an international destination or any other city Southwest flies to. If you flew on Southwest every day of the year, your companion could travel with you for free every time.
There’s also no restriction on when you book your tickets. You can book your flight months in advance or the day before you leave. As long as there’s an open seat on the plane, your companion can go with you. Plus, you can change or cancel your companion tickets without any fees just like any other ticket you buy on Southwest. You can see why the Companion Pass is often referred to as the Holy Grail of travel.
How To Earn The Companion Pass
Now that you’ve seen just how great this travel perk is, I’m going to show you how to earn it. However, beginning on January 1, 2020, Southwest will make it a little more difficult to earn. You can qualify for Southwest’s Companion Pass in one of two way. The first way is to earn 125,000 qualifying points (up from 110,000 qualifying points) in a CALENDAR year. The other option is to fly on 100 qualifying one-way flights in a CALENDAR year. I know this seems like a lot but it’s more attainable than you may think.
Revenue Flights – All points earned from flights you paid for with cash count toward your total.
Credit Card Bonuses – Welcome bonuses that you earn when you sign up for a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card. With the increase in the amount needed to earn the Companion Pass, this one is even more important.
Credit Card Spending – The points you earn from purchases made on a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card also count.
Other Partners – There are other shopping and dining partners you can earn qualifying points with as well. You can get the specific details from the Companion Pass website.
What Doesn’t Count
Transferred Points – Southwest is a transfer partner with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and some hotel loyalty programs. That means, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer points to your Rapid Rewards account, these won’t count towards the Companion Pass.
Purchased Points – You can also purchase points from Southwest if you need a few extra for an award ticket. Unfortunately, these do not count either.
Timing Is Everything
Once you qualify for the Companion Pass, it is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn it PLUS the entire following calendar year. That means, if you earn it at the beginning of the year, you can have it for almost two years! I know it might seem crazy to do but it is possible and I’m going to show you how.
Timing is everything if you want to have the Southwest Companion Pass for almost 2 years. It is earned based on your activity during a calendar year. You don’t want to sign up for a card and earn the welcome bonus at the end of a calendar year. If this happens, you’ll have a nice pile of Rapid Rewards points but you’ll be back to square one earning the Companion Pass.
In the fine print of the application, it says the bonus points can take 6 to 8 weeks to post to your account. I found that it actually happened a lot sooner than this. When I opened my account, I received my bonus points shortly after the statement closed where I met the spending requirement. Be sure to keep track of your spending on the card so the points don’t post too soon. It’s OK to open the account in December and put a little Christmas shopping on it during the holidays. Just make sure you don’t meet the spending requirement until January if you’re trying to have the pass for 2 years.
Using Credit Cards
The fastest way to earn points for the Companion Pass is through a welcome bonus with a Rapid Rewards credit card. As you can see, these bonuses can add up quickly. There are several different card options to choose from and their welcome bonuses can change periodically. However, here are the current offers for each of the personal and business cards:
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus – Right now you can earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card – Earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card – You can earn 40,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of opening an account.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card – You can earn a 60,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 within 3 months of opening an account.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card – You can earn a 70,000 point bonus after spending $5,000 within 3 months of opening an account. Plus, you can earn an additional 30,000 bonus points if you spend a total of $25k within the first 6 months. If you are able to meet both spending thresholds with this card, you’ll have enough points to earn the Companion Pass.
Your first thought is to simply sign up for a few of these cards and you’re all set. Unfortunately, Chase has restricted how often you can earn a sign-up bonus from their Southwest family of personal credit cards. If either of the following are true, you are not eligible to receive a sign-up bonus for a personal credit card:
- You are a current card member of ANY Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card.
- You were a previous card member and received a bonus within the past 24 months.
These cards are issued by Chase and will fall under their 5/24 Rule. Remember, try not to raise any red flags with Chase by opening too many accounts in a short amount of time. We recommend opening no more than 1 personal card and 1 business card every 3 months.
Companion Pass Tips
While there are restrictions for opening multiple personal Southwest credit card accounts, you can open 1 personal account and 1 business account. If you own a small business, or have a side-hustle, you can qualify for a business credit card. By combining the sign-up bonuses you will either qualify for the Companion Pass or be extremely close. I personally did this and was able to have the pass for 22 months.
The Southwest Companion Pass is easily one of the greatest travel perks available and can save you a lot of money. I was able to use it to travel to Hawaii, Costa Rica and everywhere in between with the pass. I calculated that it saved me over $2,000 during the first 2 year period I had it. If you love flying Southwest, this will be perfect for you. Hopefully I’ve been able to show you that it may be more attainable that you previously thought. If you have any other questions about the Companion Pass, leave me a comment in the section below.