Photo of a Southwest Plane

How to Get the Best Travel Deal in Town: The Southwest Companion Pass!

How does traveling around the world for practically free and with a friend sound?? 

Too good to be true, I bet!

But it’s not! Enter: the Southwest Companion Pass!

I was lucky enough to find the Companion Pass when I first moved to California. The points have helped me visit my family in Florida A LOT over the years and the pass has allowed me to take my boyfriend and friends to many other places as well!

If you want to learn more about credit cards in general, read this post first to learn about how credit cards work and how to properly use them while maximizing your rewards!

Related Posts: Planning a Trip to Hawaii (on Points!)

How to Book Europe for SO Cheap

Southwest Companion Pass

How does the Southwest Companion Pass Work?

The Southwest Companion Pass is a perk you can earn through Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program that allows you to add a companion to any flight that you fly on, for free.

All you have to pay for are the taxes and fees, which are $5.60 each way on domestic flights. International flight fees vary. 

How do you get the Southwest Companion Pass?

In order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you must earn a total of 125,000 Rapid Rewards points within a single year. Then your pass will be active for the remainder of that year plus the following year. 

Now, that may seem hard to do at first, but it’s not that complicated. I will break it down below!

Credit Cards

The fastest and easiest way to accumulate 125,000 Rapid Rewards points is to get the Southwest credit cards! You will need 2 of them. 

Southwest used to allow you to get 2 personal cards, which was amazing! But they changed that a few years ago. Now you can only have one personal card at a time, so you have to get a business card as well. 

*A lot of people don’t know that they can easily get a business credit card. This post goes into detail about what qualifies for a business credit card. I personally have received business cards as a seller on eBay, as an Instacart driver, and now for this blog. All of these are considered small businesses and qualify me to get a business credit card. The first few times I applied for a business card I was denied, so don’t get discouraged. I believe it was because I didn’t have much income in the beginning. I still don’t have a lot but it’s more than it was back then!

Photo of airplane wing above the earth

Right now Southwest has 5 credit cards to choose from (3 personal and 2 business). Here are the details for each:

    1. 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in 3 months*
    2. 3,000 Rapid Rewards points every year on your anniversary
    3. 2x points on all purchases at Southwest
    4. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    5. The annual fee is $69
    1. 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in 3 months*
    2. 6,000 Rapid Rewards points every year on your anniversary
    3. 2x points on all purchases at Southwest
    4. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    5. No foreign transaction fees
    6. Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status
    7. The annual fee is $99
    1. 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in 3 months*
    2. 7,500 Rapid Rewards points every year on your anniversary
    3. 2x points on all purchases at Southwest
    4. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    5. No foreign transaction fees
    6. Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status
    7. $75 Southwest annual travel credit
    8. 4 upgraded boardings per year when available
    9. 20% back on inflight drinks and Wifi
    10. The annual fee is $149
    1. 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months*
    2. 6,000 Rapid Rewards points every year on your anniversary
    3. 2x points on all purchases at Southwest
    4. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    5. No foreign transaction fees
    6. The annual fee is $99
    1. 70,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in 3 months and an additional 30,000 bonus points after you spend $25,000 in 6 months (for a total of 100,000 points if you can reach that spend)*
    2. 9,000 Rapid Rewards points every year on your anniversary
    3. 3x points on all purchases at Southwest
    4. 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services
    5. 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
    6. 4 upgraded boardings per year when available
    7. 365 Wifi Credits
    8. Global Entry or TSA Pre-check credit up to $100 every 4 years
    9. No foreign transaction fees
    10. The annual fee is $199

*All of the bonuses are current as of the date of this post. Southwest changes their bonus offers often so make sure to double-check exactly which offer you are signing up for. 

Now as you can see, all of these cards have annual fees, so the Companion Pass does not come for 100% free. But if you have a significant other or a friend that you travel with often then the cost can be split.

The value you can get from the pass will far outweigh the cost, especially if you time the bonuses right and get almost the full 2 years out of it.

how to get the Southwest companion pass

The Best Strategy to Maximize the Companion Pass!

Ideally, you don’t want to just start applying for the cards without a strategy in place! That’s because timing really matters in how much value you will be able to get out of your companion pass. 

As I mentioned in the beginning, your companion pass is valid for the rest of the current year in which you earn the 125k points, PLUS the next year. To make sure you get the most value out of your pass, you will want your 125k points to hit your Southwest account as early in the year as possible.

First, consider the current offers and decide which cards you want to get!

Typically, I would recommend getting the Plus personal card and the Premier Business card. In terms of cost, this will be the lowest combination. 

However, with the current bonus offers for the Plus and the Premier Business cards, you would only get to 100,000 points. While the 40,000 points are pretty easy to get with only $1,000 in spend required on the personal, you still are a ways off (only 104,000 points out of the needed 125,000 points, including your minimum spend).

So for right now, I would actually recommend waiting until Southwest changes their offers to at least 50,000 points per personal card. They have also had 60,000 and 65,000 point offers too! (The 65,000 offer just went away, unfortunately.)

I think Southwest does this on purpose because this is the right timing to get the maximum value out of the Companion Pass.

Or, you could just get the Performance Business card and get all of the points needed through the $25k in spend. Just make sure to not hit the $5,000 in spend mark before January 1, then hit the rest of the spend as quickly as possible.

Image of multiple Southwest plane wings

Next, time your applications right!

You get 3 months to hit your minimum spend in order for your bonuses to trigger. So, if the offers were better right now, I would recommend applying for your cards in October. But as I mentioned above I would wait. It is possible Southwest will up their offers closer to the end of the year, which is what they did last year!

In this post, I go into much more detail about how credit cards work in general. But when it comes to your bonus points, they do not deposit into your Southwest account until a few days after the end of your billing period in which you hit the minimum spend. 

So you will need to keep track of your spending to make sure you don’t hit your minimum too early. The last thing you want is for your points to hit in December and not count for January. 

One other thing to note, I would apply for the Business card first so that you ensure you are approved before getting a personal card (which will most likely be easier to get approved for). 

Then, once approved for the Business card, I would apply for the personal card at least 2 weeks later or more. As you can see below, I waited 1 month between applications. 

Finally, you should use your card, making sure to track your spending so that you don’t hit the minimum until after January 1. 

*Technically, since your points won’t hit until the end of your billing statement that ends in January (whatever day that may be), you (should) be able to reach your minimum spend in December of that billing statement and still be good. But I always tried to wait until January 1 to hit that number just to be safe

Timeline of my most recent Southwest Companion pass

How to get the Southwest companion passSo I applied with the 50,000 point bonus offer for the Plus card and a 60,000 point bonus offer for the Premier Business card. At the time I applied, Southwest only required 110,000 points to get the companion pass so I should’ve been done.

But, during the time I was working towards hitting the minimum spend on my cards, Southwest decided to increase the number of points required to 125,000 points. They also had higher offers pop up either shortly before the new year or right after the new year which was a bummer for me.

Thankfully, though, they also offered a 25% bonus on all points that hit your Southwest account from your credit cards during a certain time period. My 110,000+ points hit during this time and it triggered an additional 27,000 points for me to get my Companion Pass without any additional work! Woohoo!

One last tip, if Chase and Southwest do change their offer on their credit cards shortly after you are approved for it, you can always send a message through Chase’s secure message portal and ask for your offer to be matched to the current offer.

Image of Southwest Plane

Additional Ways to Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Sometimes you get lucky and get all the points required through the credit card bonuses. But other times it doesn’t work out so easily. So here are the other ways to earn Southwest points that count towards the companion pass:

  1. Spend more on your credit cards. Each $1 you spend equals 1 point.
  2. If you pay for a flight on Southwest, then you will earn points and they will count towards the companion pass.
  3. Points earned for partner hotel stays or car rentals. These will take a while to post though.
  4. Points earned through Southwest’s partner, Laithwaite’s Wine.
  5. Using the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.
  6. Using RocketMiles through Southwest.
  7. Earning points through the Rapid Rewards Dining program points.
  8. Points earned through Southwest’s partner,
  9. If you have Reliant Energy in your area you can get points for this.
  10. Same for NRG Home.
  11. Make It Count – Marathon
  12. Place Pass
  13. Harry and David
  14. Rewards for Opinions

Here is a link to Southwest’s page for more information!

Note: you cannot buy points for the Companion Pass. There are also some other ways to get points that do not qualify.

How many times can you use the Southwest Companion Pass?

As many times as you want! You can use the pass on any flight you book between the time you earn the pass and December 31st of the following year, as long as there is space on the flight you want!

Southwest Companion Pass

Some other things to consider when getting the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest credit cards are issued through Chase Bank. Chase does have some rules that you must abide by when applying for their credit cards. 

The most important one to remember is the 5/24 Rule. This rule says that you cannot have 5 or more new personal credit cards opened in the last 24 months. 

Business cards issued by most major issuers do not count towards this number. (Business cards opened with Capital One, Discover, TD Bank WILL count towards your 5/24 limit because these issuers report to your personal credit report.) (I have read mixed news about business accounts opened with Barclays. I personally opened the AAdvantage Aviator Business card through Barclays and it has not shown up on my personal credit report.)

Also, some people say you will not be approved for more than 2 Chase cards within 30 days. You should be good with these cards, though, as long as you aren’t trying to get another Chase card in the same month. 

You can read about these rules in more detail here

Tips to further maximize the value of your Southwest Companion Pass

1. If you are a family of 4, both parents can get the companion pass and kids can fly for free! (After they are over the age that flies for free anyways.)

2. Make sure you check Southwest’s website for any and all flights you want to take. Southwest’s flights DO NOT show up in any other search engine, so you have to use their site for all searches. 

3. Once you have the 125,000 points and the companion pass, make sure you always search for the points fare and not the cash fare on the website. This amount of points can get you a handful of round trip flights or a dozen or more one-way trips. 

4. You can have up to 4 different people use your companion pass each year. When you first obtain your companion pass, it will ask you to assign it to someone. If you don’t have a spouse you know you will be traveling with right away, I would wait until you know when you are going to take your first trip and assign it to whoever your companion is then. After the initial assigning of the pass, you are allowed to change it up to 3 more times per year. 

5. Southwest also allows you to check up to 2 bags per person for FREE! This is extremely helpful if you are flying somewhere and need to take a bunch of stuff with you. 

6. Another perk of flying Southwest is that they let you make changes to flights very easily. Also, because of this, I like to book all of my flights as one-ways. This makes it much easier to make changes if I need to. 

7. Finally, I keep my Southwest cards for the full year, then when the annual fee hits again, I call to cancel the cards. The annual fee is just too high and the benefits aren’t that great to justify keeping the cards longer than the one year. You should keep your cards open and active for at least one year because if you close them earlier, Chase may not want to approve you for future cards

8. In the past, I have been able to wait for my “Anniversary Points” to hit my account, then called Chase to close the account. They will then reverse the annual fee and my points have stayed in my Southwest account. Every year credit card companies are getting smarter and smarter so there is no guarantee this will work now or in the future. I will try to update you guys when I get to this point in the next few months!

So what trips are you thinking you can take using the Companion Pass? Maybe Hawaii with a girlfriend for a much-needed vacation? Or how about a trip to Orlando to visit the theme parks with the family once traveling is safe again? Let me know in the comments!

And if you liked this post, I would love it if you shared it with your companion! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top