Easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass with a single credit card


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Southwest just came out with a new offer for their three personal Southwest credit cards. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you’ll earn the Southwest Companion Pass, plus 30,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card.

While I am a huge fan of the Southwest Companion Pass and have been a pass holder for 13 years, I am always advocating readers to get the pass — if they live in a Southwest hub — but, is this really the best offer?

Typically, when you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, the pass is valid for the entire year it is earned plus the entire following year. Which means if you were to earn the pass now, you’d be able to fly BOGO until Dec. 31, 2022. However, the promotional offer that is coming with the personal credit card is a one-year only pass, with the pass expiring Feb. 28, 2022. Usually, the Southwest credit cards do not come with the pass, but instead more points that can then put you one step further towards earning the pass. But if you are looking for the absolute easiest way to earn the pass, the time is now.

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Fly 2-for-1 while being a Companion Pass holder.

Want to extend the pass?

Even though this offer will only give you the pass for a single year — instead of up to 24 months — you can actually extend the pass by combining one of the personal card offers with the business credit card. Although Southwest doesn’t allow you to open two personal cards at a time, you can have one personal card and a business card open.

With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card you’ll earn up to 100,000 bonus points — 70,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus an additional 30,000 bonus points after you spend $25,000 on purchases within the first six months.

Of course this offer can earn you the pass on its own since it will give you 125,000 points (100,000 points for the sign-up bonus, plus 25,000 points for meeting the minimum spend), but is requires a ton of credit card spend.

If you aren’t going to spend that much on your credit card, you can instead just hit the first tier bonus of 70,000 points after spending 5,000 on your card. Typically, it requires 125,000 points within a calendar year to earn the pass, but for 2021, Southwest is boosting account bonuses and crediting accounts with 25,000 points as long as they had their account open by Dec. 31, 2020. So if you fall into that category, that means you actually only need 100,000 points to earn the pass through the traditional method.

Related: 100,000 points and earn the Southwest Companion Pass right away

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With the 30,000 points you earn from the personal card and the 70,000 points from the business card, that will give you the 100,000 points needed! And since you’ll already have the Companion Pass from the personal card, you can hold off on applying for the business card until you are able to meet the minimum spend requirement. Just make sure all points post within 2021.

This will then allow you to have the pass after meeting the minimum spend for the personal card and then extend the pass through Dec. 31, 2022 — giving you approximately 22 months with the pass!

Southwest Credit Card Differences

With three different personal Southwest credit cards cards, there are bound to be some differences.

The Plus and Premier cards are pretty similar in the benefits with one difference. The Plus card will give you 3,000 Rapid Reward points (~worth $45) on every account anniversary year, where the Premier card will give you 6,000 Rapid Reward points (~worth $90). Although, the Plus card has a lower annual fee.

The card that really differs in its benefits is the Priority card. This card is on the higher end in terms of annual fees, but the benefits really pay for itself.

With the Priority card, you’ll receive $75 in travel credit towards Southwest purchases per year, 7,500 Rapid Reward bonus points annually (~worth $113), four upgraded boarding passes per year and 20% back on your in-flight purchases. In just the first year with the card, that $149 annual fee can be thought of as just $74 (due to the travel credits) and then even less depending on how you use the upgraded boarding passes and in-flight purchases. After the first year, you’ll actually come ahead. The travel credits and bonus Rapid Reward points automatically are worth $188, so after the $149 annual fee, you are ahead by $39. That doesn’t even take into consideration the other perks.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is your all-access pass to fly a companion with you an unlimited number of times throughout the life of the pass. As long as there is at least one seat available to book the companion, the seat is yours for free. The only caveat is that you’ll have to pay for taxes. For domestic destinations that is just $5.60 per one-way. International destinations are slightly more and can cost up to $150ish roundtrip — depending on the destination.

southwest credit card

You’ll initially set your companion once the pass is received and then can change your companion up to three times per year. Since the pass expands across two calendar years, this means you up to 7 people can fly as your companion — for free!

The points earned from the credit card offer — and additional credit card spend — can also be used towards the first passengers fare. So that means both passengers can fly for free!

With Southwest’s flexible change and cancelation, Southwest is an ideal airline if you aren’t 100% sure of your plans. With Southwest, you can get a credit or your points back if the flight goes down in price. You can also change or cancel your flight for absolutely no fee. No other airline comes even close to offering these same flexible benefits.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass

Overall…

If you are looking for the easiest possible way to earn the pass, applying for one of the three Southwest credit cards is the perfect solution. Just know that you’ll only have the pass for the year, instead of up to 24 months. However, that can easily be solved by combining it with the business credit card.

With that being said, if you aren’t flying this year, then you are better off waiting until next year to get the pass.

But if travel is on your radar, earning the pass year-after-year is one of the best — and cheapest — ways to fly. It has truly saved my family tens of thousands of dollars over the past 13 years. And especially with COVID-19, I can book flights and always cancel.

Learn more about Southwest…

Learn more about Southwest Companion Pass

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Alex
Alex
11 days ago

I believe you have to spend $5000 (not $3000 as indicated in the blog) to earn the companion pass.

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