Southwest just announced that they will again give their members a head start on earning the Southwest Companion Pass. With this boost, all members will receive 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points towards the 125,000 points required — thus bringing the number down to just 100,000 points. (The only caveat is that you must have had a Rapid Rewards account open before Dec. 30, 2020).
While this will help members get one-step closer to earning the pass this year — which will then not expire until Dec. 31, 2022 — this now means you can actually earn the pass with just one credit card sign up.
One of the best things about the Southwest credit card offers is that the welcome offers you receive count towards earning the amazing Southwest Companion Pass. Since the new year just started, this is the perfect time to apply for the cards and earn the pass. Earning the pass in January or February means you’ll have almost 2 full years of flying buy-one-get-one — once you earn the pass you have it for the rest of the calendar year, plus the entire year. This means regardless of when you earn the pass in 2021, it will not expire until Dec. 31, 2022.
While there are many ways to earn the pass, but for many folks, the credit card route is the easiest way as it gives you the most amount of points right off the bat. And yes, the points earned from the welcome offer does count towards qualifying points!
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points — 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 9 months. ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points — 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 9 months. ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points — 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first 9 months. ($149 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Premier Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn up to 100,000 points — 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months, plus another 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first six months. ($199 annual fee)
As you can see from above, there are a total of five Southwest credit cards. If you were to apply for one of the personal cards, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, this would earn you a total of 90,000 points — 80,000 points from the sign-up bonus, plus another 10,000 points from your credit card spend from meeting the minimum spend requirement. This would then leave you just 10,000 points shy of earning the pass. Continued credit card spend or using the Southwest online shopping portal can then get you over the hump.
Or, if you are eligible for a business credit card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: will get you the pass right off the bat, since the offer allows you to earn up to 100,000 points from the sign-up offer — the exact amount needed to earn the companion pass this year (as long as you are eligible for the 25,000 point boost).
Typically, you need to apply for both the personal and business card to secure the pass, but not any more!
The credit card route is how I personally secured my pass for 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately though, I haven’t flown since the pandemic hit, so my pass is not nearly as valuable as I was hoping for, but I was able to sneak in some trips in January and February 2020. I also do hope that the pass will be extended.
Southwest Companion Pass FAQs
While this prior post lists out Everything You Need to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass, I put together an FAQ section to help answer all your questions.
Flying limitations: With the companion pass there are no black out dates or seat restrictions — if there is a seat available for purchase, it is available for your companion. The companion pass can even be used if points were redeemed for a free flight. This can result in both passengers flying for FREE (plus the taxes/passenger)!
Number of times the companion pass can be used: Unlimited! There is no cap on the number of times the pass can be used.
Who can be a companion: Anyone can be your companion — friends, family, a complete stranger. However, the companion pass can only be switched up to three times per year. Since you need to allocate your companion when getting the pass, this allows you 4 people to use the pass per year (those people can be repeated and put back on as the companion as well but counts as one of your allowed changes). To change your companion pass, call Southwest Customer Service (1-800-IFLYSWA) and they will easily assist you on the spot.
Companion pass expiration: The companion pass is valid the remainder of the year it was earned plus the following calendar year. For example, if you earn the pass January 2021, you will have it for the rest of 2021, plus all of 2022. Tip: You can only fly through Dec. 31, 2022 with your companion pass, not simply book by this date.
My Experience with the Southwest Companion Pass
I’ve had the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass for about 13 years now. I’ve used it for flights to: Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Costa Rica, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Aruba, Cancun, Washington DC, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Detroit, Birmingham, etc. I love that I can use the pass for my husband or my kids while redeeming points for my flight. And Southwest flights can be canceled with no fee! If you use points, the points go straight back into your account. If you pay for the flight, you receive a voucher for the amount paid to be used within a year of the date purchased.
I personally love the Companion Pass as it has saved me a ton of money throughout the years. And I also love Southwest too, so getting a free flight on a Southwest flight is a double win for me.
What is your Southwest Companion Pass strategy?