southwest airlines companion pass

Southwest Companion Pass is The Best Travel Deal I’ve Ever Seen

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If you haven’t heard of the Southwest Companion Pass, you’re about to be enlightened on the best travel deal in the airline industry.  It is the best travel deal ever to be seen in the airline industry.  If earned, a Southwest Companion Pass allows for you to fly with a complimentary companion on every flight you take for up to two years (on cash-paid or points flights).  Achieving Southwest Companion Pass status is done by earning 110,000 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year.

While that may sound impossible for the regular traveler, it’s not.  My wife and I have done it on three separate occasions.  Earning the 110,000 Southwest points does not have to be done solely through flying.  In fact, it can be achieved without flying a single flight.  The points can also be earned through the Chase Rapid Rewards credit cards. This means that both the credit card introductory bonuses and the money spent on the cards will earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass!

southwest credit card companion pass

 

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

When you earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you’re essentially getting status that grants you and your companion unlimited (BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE) flights for both the year you earn it and the following year.  Yes, you heard that right. If earned in January 2019, you’d have it for all of 2019 and 2020!  The free companion tickets are valid on both paid flights and reward flights.  That essentially means that those 110,000 miles you just earned are now worth double.  They’re worth 220,000 miles if you always take your companion along for free.  The only thing to say is about this deal is WOW!  It doesn’t get much better than that.  If you decide to travel a lot on Southwest while you have the companion pass, you can save thousands upon thousands of dollars.

I almost forgot to mention that Southwest has grown their flight routes over the past few years. They now fly to more destinations than just the USA.  They fly to Mexico, Central America, and much of the Caribbean.  Also, they plan to begin flights to Hawaii in late 2018 or early 2019.  I’m guessing you’re starting to understand why this is my favorite deal in the airline industry.  Southwest doesn’t fly worldwide, but for people who are looking to travel within the U.S.A. and to our southern neighboring countries, it’s an amazing deal.  Who doesn’t love a good deal?

 

Who is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass Right For?

While Southwest doesn’t have first class, they lack a large international route map, and they don’t have seat selection, they make up for it with their excellent customer service and flexibility.  All Southwest flights can be rescheduled up to ten minutes before the flight time for no fee.  You can also check your bags for no fee.  It’s truly an airline that tries to make their customers happy and it shows.  That’s hard to say about other airlines these days.

Some people dislike Southwest’s seating procedure, but if you know how it works and you’re on top of checking in exactly 24 hours before your flight, it works out quite well.  I simply set an alarm 24 hours and 5 minutes before my departure time.  When my alarm goes off I open the Southwest app on my phone and check-in when the time hits.  This ensures you will get in the A or B boarding group and likely ensures that you will have a seat with your flight mates.  I have never missed out on getting a seat next to the person I was flying with by using this check-in procedure.

The Southwest Companion Pass is perfect for flyers who want to travel within the United States and nearby countries.  Their destinations within the US are actually very good.  There are few places in the country that you cannot get to by flying Southwest.  The addition of Hawaii will add even more options for vacation using a Southwest Companion Pass for flights.  I have been flying Southwest for six years and have nothing bad to say about them.  I love flying Southwest, especially when I’m flying with my free companion beside me!

Companion Pass Southwest

 

How to Get Southwest Companion Pass: The Hard Way or The Easy Way

In order to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you have to earn 110,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights each year.  While, for most people, taking 100 flights is out of the question in a single year, it is possible to earn 110,000 points.  It’s possible due to the different options available to earn qualifying points.  Qualifying points include points earned through revenue flights on Southwest, credit card points (including credit card introductory offers) and points earned through Southwest partners.  Points that don’t qualify are purchased points, points transferred from other members (even family), points converted from other loyalty programs (the likes of Chase Ultimate Rewards), e-rewards, e-miles, Valued Opinions, Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points and partner bonus points.

  • Credit Card Bonuses (The Easy Way)

The best way to earn large amounts of Rapid Rewards points is through the introductory offers of the Southwest credit cards.  However, you need to be aware of Chase’s rules on applying for Southwest credit cards before you hit submit.  Because Chase has it’s 5/24 rule, if you’ve opened more than five credit cards (not just Chase cards) in the past 24 months, you’ll likely be denied. You can’t earn the bonus on any of the Southwest cards if you’ve earned an introductory offer bonus with that specific card in the past two years.  Also, a new rule (as of April 2018) prohibits you from owning two of their personal credit cards at once.  Meaning you can no longer sign up for two personal cards to earn the bonuses in a single year.

You are, however, allowed to have one personal card and one business card at the same time.  Therefore, to earn the most points from credit card bonuses you’d need to apply for one of the three personal cards along with the business premier card.  Qualifying for a business card is not as difficult as you might think.  Any side hustle or extra income may qualify you.  With introductory offers ranging from 40-60,000 points, signing up for two of the Southwest credit cards will get you most of, if not all the way to earning the Companion Pass.  As a rule, I wait to apply for any of these credit cards until the introductory offer is at least 50,000 points.

  • Southwest Credit Card Referrals

Credit card referral bonuses are another great way to rapidly accumulate points toward the Companion Pass. Chase offers 10,000 points for every friend whom you refer through your personalized link and is approved for a Southwest credit card. These referrals are limited to a total earning of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points per year.

  • Southwest Flights

Other than credit card bonuses and referral bonuses, flying very often on Southwest is your best option for earning Rapid Rewards points. Depending on the fare type, you earn between 6 and 12 points per $1 spent on Southwest airfare. With this method alone, you would need to spend at least $9,000 on airfare to earn enough points for the companion pass.

  • rocketmiles southwest companion pass

    Sign up for Rocketmiles here: Get 1000 extra bonus points when you book.

    Rapid Rewards Partners

Southwest has several travel and shopping partners that allow you to earn extra Rapid Rewards points by purchasing rental cars, hotel stays, transportation and experiences.  One of the best partners is Rocketmiles, where you can earn up to 10,000 Southwest miles per night on certain hotel stays (extra bonus offer points don’t count towards Companion Pass – base points do).  A hotel room booked for a few hundred dollars can earn thousands of points alone.  For instance, the booking to the right shows a hotel room that costs $379 and earns 5000 Rapid Rewards points.  This is a great way to meet the last of the points you may need to earn the SW companion pass.

  • Credit Card Spend

Any points you earn through purchases made on the Southwest credit cards will count toward the Companion Pass. All the Southwest credit cards offer the same earning rate: 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases, Rapid Rewards hotel purchases, and partner car rental purchases.  1 point per $1 spent is earned on all other purchases. This would be a difficult way to earn a companion pass unless you spend a very large amount of money each year.  You would need to spend over $100k on a Southwest credit card to earn the Southwest Companion Pass through credit card spending only.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program is another good way to add a few extra points to your balance. You’ll earn up to two points per $1 spent at qualifying restaurants.  You must sign up for this program and designate your credit card to earn these bonuses.

  • Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

You can also earn extra Rapid Rewards points by clicking on a retailer’s link through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal before purchasing. The Rapid Rewards shopping portal includes many retailers you probably use, like Best Buy or World Market. You’ll earn varying point multipliers depending on the retailer but it’s usually between 1-4 points per dollar.

how to get southwest companion pass

 

Southwest Credit Card Companion Pass: Earn it Without Flying a Single Mile

As you can see above, the only quick and easy way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is through credit card bonuses.  The other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points are good for topping off any last points you need to meet the 110,000 points for the Southwest Credit Card Companion Pass.  Chase currently offers four Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards and they all typically have introductory bonuses of 40-60,000 miles each.  Out of the four Southwest credit cards,  you can often get approved for two of them (1 personal and 1 business), meet the minimum spends for both, and you’ll instantly earn a Southwest Companion Pass.

Chase offers three personal credit cards (Plus, Premier and Priority) and one business credit card (Business Premier).  Yes, you must have your own business to qualify for a business credit card. However, a sole proprietorship is valid. That means if you have any kind of “side hustle” or side income you have a business. Do you sell things on eBay or Craigslist? That’s a business. Maybe you have garage sales… Get creative!  If you need inspiration, check out these two blogs: Smart Passive Income & Side Hustle School.

Getting Approved for Southwest Credit Cards

Getting approved for both a personal and business card at the same time is absolutely possible, and even probable if you try.  I’ve done it on multiple occasions, my wife has done it, and many travel bloggers have done it as well.  Call the reconsideration line If you’re not approved for one of the cards.  You can ask them if they’ll manually review your application. You may want a personal card and a business card to keep expenses separate, which is a valid reason for two similar credit cards.

Two Southwest credit card approvals at once are possible. If you aren’t able to get two credit cards at the same time, you can always apply for one and then wait 3 months or more to apply for the other.  As long as you are awarded the introductory bonuses in the same calendar year, they will combine to earn points towards the southwest companion pass.

How to Earn Your Southwest Companion Pass in January to Maximize Your Value

Once you are approved for your Southwest credit cards, you’ll need to meet the minimum spends to earn your bonus.  If you are trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass in 2019, you can actually apply for the credit cards at the end of 2018.  Because you get 3 months to complete the minimum spends, you can get your credit card anytime after October starts.  If you do this, you must make sure to not reach the full minimum spend until after January 1st, 2019.  That is when you will earn your bonus points.

For instance, if you were approved for one of the Southwest credit cards on October 15th, 2018 (that earns the bonus after $3000 in first 3 months), you would have until January 15th, 2019 to complete the minimum spending.  You could put, say $2800 in spending on the card in 2018, then wait to complete the other $200 of needed spending until after January 1st, 2019.  This will allow you to earn your companion pass earlier in the year to maximize the time you have to use it.  Just be sure to not complete the minimum spending too early, because you must earn all 110,000 points in the same calendar year.

southwest companion pass credit card

 

Southwest Companion Pass Trick: Combine Two Offers

Below are the four Southwest credit cards offered by Chase.  To help earn a Southwest Companion Pass, it’s possible to be approved for two of the credit cards.  You can get one of the personal cards as well as the business card.  This is how I have earned the companion pass three separate times, and have had a free flight companion for nearly six straight years.  It’s pretty simple.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

Up to 60,000 Points after meeting multiple spending tiers within the given time frames

Chase Southwest Plus Credit Card
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in the first year.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • Annual Fee: $69

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

Up to 60,000 Points after meeting multiple spending tiers within the given time frames

Chase Southwest Premier Credit Card
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in the first year.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual Fee: $99

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

Up to 60,000 Points after meeting multiple spending tiers within the given time frames

southwest rapid rewards priority credit card
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in the first year.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest travel credit every year.
  • 4 Upgraded boardings per year.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, wi-fi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Annual Fee: $149

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

60,000 Points after spending $3000 in the first 3 months

Chase Southwest RR Premier Business Credit Card
  • Introductory Offer: You’ll earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Annual Point Bonus: Receive 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • Earning Bonuses: You’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Bags fly free and no change fees.
  • No Foreign transaction fees.
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost and earn points on employee spending.
  • Annual Fee: $99

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply HERE.

 

How to Use Southwest Companion Pass Effectively

Now that you know the easy way to get the Southwest Companion Pass, here’s how you’ll use it.  Since every flight you take on Southwest in the year you earn companion pass and the year after will include a free companion ticket, you should take advantage of it as much as possible.  The more you use your companion pass, the more valuable it is.  For instance, if you only use it once for a $300 flight, it’s value is $300.  But, if you use your companion pass for 20 $300 flights, it’s value is $6000.  The Southwest Companion Pass can be extremely valuable, but it’s inevitably up to you how valuable it will be.

sw companion pass

 

Southwest Points to Dollars: How much is each point really worth?

Each Southwest point is worth about 1.6 cents when used to book a “Wanna Get Away” flight.  This is the lowest available price for flights with Southwest and will get you the most value.  If you earn the Companion Pass that means you will have 110,000 points to use.  You don’t actually have to spend the points you earned for the Companion Pass.  You get to keep them.  Those 110,000 points are valued at $1760 towards Wanna Get Away flights.  But, now that you have a free companion for every single flight, those points are worth double.  An astonishing $3520 value if you take a companion on every flight!

How to Use Southwest Points to Book a Flight and Add Your Companion

You’ve got $3520 worth of points if you earned the Southwest Companion Pass.  You’ll surely want to know how to use them effectively.  I follow the rule of only booking flights at the Wanna Get Away price.  Southwest points prices always coincide with the cash prices (~62.5 points per $1).  When using your companion pass, you will book your flight as usual, except only book the flight for one person, whoever holds the companion pass status.  You’ll add your companion to the flight after booking.

Remember, you can use either cash or points to book even when you’re adding a companion.  Sign in to your Southwest account, Find your flights, complete your bookings, and then go to My Account and then My Trips.  There you will find all of your upcoming trips and a button that says Add Companion.  You’ll click that on each itinerary that you want to add your companion and follow the prompts.  You’ll have to pay the taxes and fees to complete booking your companion.

Using Your Companions Rapid Rewards Points to Book a Companion Flight

In my wife and I’s case, she has the companion pass, but I have some Southwest points in my own account.  Those points aren’t transferable, but I can use my points to book her a flight.  After I book her flight, she can add that flight to her Southwest Rapid Rewards account using the confirmation code.  Then, she can add me as a companion for the flight using the process detailed above.  This is a great way to take advantage of Southwest points that your companion may have in their account.

Always Book One-Way Flights Separately

Whenever booking flights on Southwest, it’s smart to book each one-way flight separately (not as a round-trip ticket).  Southwest offers no fee rescheduling of all flights, so if one of your flights becomes cheaper after purchasing it, you can easily reschedule either the departing flight or arriving flight.  It makes sense to only book one-way tickets because if, for instance, your departure flight gets cheaper and your arrival flight gets more expensive, you can’t reschedule just half of your itinerary if booked together as a round-trip.  Using this one-way booking process, you’ll easily be able to change your flights, guaranteeing the best price.

Book Your Flights During a Sale

Southwest has sales on their flights very often.  The great thing about their points being equal to a dollar amount is that when they have flight sales, the points price becomes cheaper as well.  During past sales, I’ve been able to find flights for as little as 2-3000 points.  Remember that there are no fees to reschedule a flight, so you can book your flight now, but continue to check prices, especially during sales.  If either way of your flight becomes cheaper, just reschedule it for the cheaper price.  You will be refunded the difference of points or dollars.

 

Southwest Companion Pass Rules

  • You are allowed to change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.
  • Once you qualify, you can begin booking flights with your Companion Pass immediately, and it is good through the remainder of the year you earn it as well as the next calendar year (up to two years, depending on when you qualify).
  • You can pay for your flight with cash or points before you add your companion.
  • Your companion can’t fly without you – they must be booked on the same flight and dates.
  • If you cancel your ticket, the companion ticket will also be canceled.
  • You have to pay for your ticket (cash or points) to bring a companion (you can’t use a companion pass to fly with a partner also using a companion pass).

 

Where Does Southwest Fly?

As of October 2018, Southwest Airlines flies to 99 destinations across the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, and the Caribbean.  Also, they will be adding four new destinations come this winter.  Southwest will fly to Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii.  Soon, there will be over 100 Southwest Airlines destinations to use your Southwest Companion Pass on including Hawaii.

Where does southwest fly

Here are some of my favorite locations to fly via Southwest Airlines:

  • Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Austin, Texas
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Havana, Cuba
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • San Diego, California
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Niagara Falls, New York
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Washington D.C.
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Hawaii – Southwest Airlines Hawaii flights are coming in late 2018/early 2019!

Think of all the amazing adventures and vacations you and your companion could take advantage of with a Southwest Companion Pass.  For a full list of Southwest destinations: Check out our post: Where Does Southwest Fly?

southwest hawaii

 

Southwest Hawaii Flights

Beginning in 2018 or 2019 Southwest will begin flying to Hawaii for the first time.  Flights will go to all of the major islands: Oahu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH), and the Big Island (KOA).  The original four mainland departure airports will be Sacramento (SMF), San Jose (SJC), Oakland (OAK), and San Diego (SAN).  In the future, I would expect to see more departure airports along the west coast.  The airports that could be next are Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA).  They both have similar flight times to California to Hawaii flights.

Southwest Airlines Hawaii Inter-Island Flights

Southwest will also offer inter-island routes.  Currently, there aren’t many options to fly between the islands.  This will hopefully create some cheaper fares to get from island to island.  It currently costs around $100 with other carriers.  I love Hawaii and travel there often, so it’s nice to be able to split up a vacation between multiple islands, like my wife and I did for both our honeymoon and our one year anniversary.  It also brings another option to use points to travel between islands.  Plus if you have a companion pass it will be 2 for 1 pricing.

 

Who Will You Choose to be Your Companion?

If you’re looking to do a lot of traveling in upcoming years with a companion, this deal is perfect for you.  It’s absolutely worth attempting to achieve, especially for couples or best friends.  I choose my wife as my companion, and she chooses me.  As long as this deal stays alive through credit card bonuses, we’ll likely have one for a long time to come.  My wife and I now have a Southwest Companion Pass status for the third straight year (and 4th next year) thanks to the Southwest credit cards.

how to use southwest companion pass

 

My wife, Allison applied for both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit cards at the same time.  The personal card was automatically approved.  The business credit card, on the other hand, received a pending status.  After about a week, they approved her business card as well (patience is a virtue).  At the time, the introductory bonuses for those two credit cards were 50,000 Rapid Rewards & 60,000 Rapid Rewards respectively.  After meeting the minimum spends on both Southwest credit cards, she earned around 115,000 Southwest miles and one SW Companion Pass!

Now we have a free companion ticket on every flight we take for the rest of 2018 and the entirety of 2019.  Even better is that those 115,000 miles are essentially doubled (230,000 miles) worth approximately $3,700.  That’s a lot of Southwest Airlines destinations we’ll be able to fulfill without spending any money (besides taxes & fees)! This is the best deal in the travel industry.  Don’t miss out.  It likely won’t be around forever.  Who will be your companion?