These increased credit card offers will allow you to earn the Southwest Companion Pass and travel for free


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If you’ve been yearning to earn the Southwest Companion Pass where someone can truly fly with you for free (plus taxes/fee) for an unlimited number of times, then right now is your best opportunity. Just recently, Southwest announced an increased welcome offer on all three of their personal credit cards which will allow you to be one step closer to earning the coveted pass. And, if you time your credit card applications correctly, you can ultimately earn the pass through December 31, 2025 — thus allowing you to fly buy-one-get-one for almost two years.

With the credit card method, earning the pass is incredibly easy. But, this increased welcome offer will only be around through December 11, 2023. So let’s go through the details on not only how you can earn the pass, but what exactly is the Southwest Companion Pass.

how to earn the southwest companion pass

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is truly an all-access buy-one-get-one opportunity, where any pass holder can have a companion fly with them for free (plus taxes/fee) on any single route Southwest flies. This pass can also be used an unlimited number of times during the life of the pass. There’s truly no restrictions — there just has to be a single seat for sale to book your companion your seat. I’ve been a companion pass holder for 15 years and there’s absolutely no strings attached. You’re only on the hook for taxes and fees. Domestic routes are $5.60 and international routes can vary. Additionally, even if the first passenger uses points for a free flight, you can still add the companion. There are also no blackout dates for using your points or companion pass.

Having the Southwest Companion Pass can save you thousands and thousands of dollars (or points) depending on how many times you fly during the year. Traditionally, the pass is valid for the rest of the year it’s earned, plus the entire following year. This means, if you earn the pass in early January 2024 (which I’ll get to how that works), you’ll have the pass through December 31, 2025 — giving you almost two years as a pass holder.

Once you earn the pass, you’ll set an initial companion. You can then change your companion three more times each year. Changing your companion is incredibly easy and just requires a quick call to Southwest. You also don’t need to book your companion’s reservation at the same time. If you already have Southwest reservations prior to earning the pass, you can earn your companion on at a future time once becoming a pass holder.

Southwest credit card welcome offers

Currently, there are three Southwest personal cards and two business cards, allowing you to earn up to 80,000 points, depending on the card you apply for. The current offers include:

With Southwest points worth around 1.4 cents apiece, this makes the welcome offer worth $840 for the 60,000 point offer; $1,050 for the 75,000 offer; and $1,120 for the 80,000 point offer.

With current bank rules, it’s important to note that you can’t have two Southwest personal credit cards open at the same time. But, you are allowed a personal and business credit card. Also, since the Southwest cards are Chase credit cards, you are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. This means that Chase will automatically deny you for a new card application if you’ve been approved for five or more credit cards in the past 24 months (across all banks).

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass requires you to earn 135,000 qualifying points in a single calendar year. While this is different than the redeemable points you earn, points earned from the credit card welcome offers count as qualifying points as well.

This means, with the five card offers, you’ll earn anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 points (plus the points earned from meeting the minimum spend requirement), depending on the card.

This means if you apply for either the Southwest Plus, Southwest Premier or Southwest Priority, you’ll earn a total of 78,000 qualifying Companion Pass points (75,000 points from the welcome offer, plus an additional 3,000 points from meeting the minimum spend requirement). Since you need to earn 135,000 points, that means you need to earn 57,000 additional points. These points can be earned from additional credit card spend, flying Southwest or partner activity (such as the Southwest shopping portal).

Or, you can apply for a business credit card and those welcome points will easily put you over the required threshold. Let’s say you apply for the Southwest Plus and the Southwest Premier Business, you’ll end up with 135,000 points in total. And since that’s the exact amount needed for earning the pass, the pass will be yours in no time.

Additionally, one of the benefits of being a cardholder is that you’ll earn 10,000 qualifying points towards the pass. The only caveat is that you must be a cardholder on the first of the year. So as long as you apply now, come January 1, you’ll have 10,000 additional points to reaching the pass — which is helpful if you’re only able to earn the welcome bonus on one credit card.

Timing to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Since we are already in November, the best strategy to earning the pass is to apply for the card now and then wait until January 2024 to meet the minimum spend requirement. The points from the welcome offer won’t post to your Southwest account until a few days after your statement credit closes where you cross over the minimum spend threshold. So as long as you wait until Jan. 1, 2024, the points earned from the welcome offer will count towards your 2024 qualifying year. As long as you earn all of the points in 2024, you’ll then have the pass through December 31, 2025.

If you were to earn the points now in the 2023 calendar year, you’ll then only have the pass through December 31, 2024.

Therefore, make sure to NOT hit the minimum spend until January. This is one of the biggest mistakes I hear about, so make sure to be careful with your credit card spend. how to earn the southwest companion pass

Differences between the three Southwest credit cards

With three different personal Southwest credit cards, there are bound to be some differences. The Southwest Plus card is your least expensive card at just $69 annually. The card has very minimal benefits, but if your main goal is to earn the points from the welcome bonus, then this is a great card for you.

The Southwest Premier card comes with a $99 annual fee. It awards twice the amount of Rapid Reward points than the Southwest Plus card on your cardmember anniversary year — making it a better option if you foresee yourself holding onto the card for the long term. Aside from that, the cards are very similar, where you’ll receive 25% back on in-flight purchases and two EarlyBird Check-In credits per year.

The Southwest Priority card offers the most benefits, although it does carry a $149 annual fee. However, you’ll find that the fee pays for itself. On an annual basis, you’ll receive 7,500 bonus points at your cardmember anniversary, a $75 Southwest credit and four upgraded boarding certificates.

a group of credit cards

Overall

The Southwest Companion Pass is truly one of my favorite ways to travel for free. If you live near an airport that services Southwest, this is definitely the time to look into applying for one of these three cards. As aforementioned, I’ve been a pass holder for 15 years and it has saved my family tens of thousands of dollars over the year. I’ve used the pass to fly to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City (then Park City), Chicago, Detroit, Birmingham, Washington, DC, Bahamas, Cancun, Dominican Republic, Aruba and much more.

Learn more about Southwest Companion Pass

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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Frank
Frank
7 years ago

can for example I get one card and my wife another and pool the points into my account? Or just one person would have to get both cards?

Jw
Jw
4 years ago
Reply to  Frank

You cant pool accounts with different individuals, but can pool together a personal and business card with same Rapid Rewards account. Apply for both a personal and business meeting meet your name this year, and then in January 2021 apply for a personal and business under wifes name.

melissa
melissa
7 years ago

I was unable to access the personal premier card. When I clicked on it, there was a message that said offer unavailable. I already applied for the plus and would like to apply for premier to maximize points. Thanks so much!

drew
drew
7 years ago

I have referral links for the PREMIER card 50,000 bonus points offer. I will need your first name and email. It may take a week to get the signup link from Southwest but, yes, you will get it. Again, this is for the PREMIER card ($99 per year). Email drew(dot)bignall(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Get your 100,000 miles for the Companion pass
Get your 100,000 miles for the Companion pass
6 years ago

You want to get your 100k as soon as possible because the companion pass is good for the rest of the year its earned and the following year.

Please email PHILLIPL* AT yahoo.com to get links to both the Premier and Plus cards. You can get 50k miles on each of them. I will respond immediately to your emails.

thanks

dee
dee
4 years ago

That’s not really true (and a bit self serving to offer your referral links). As the article clearly explains, it the CP is early in Jan 2020, it is good for all of 2020 and 2021. Earning it now actually dilutes the amount of time you would have the CP for.

JL100
JL100
3 years ago

9/24!!!

Pam
Pam
2 years ago

In this sentence, “You can earn this amount by flying Southwest, additional credit card spend, using their online shopping portal (which is what I suggest) or crediting partner programs to your Southwest account.” what do you mean by “crediting partner programs to your SWA account”?

SRK
SRK
2 years ago

Thanks for the Tips. Can I have more than 1 Southwest card at the same time? If not what is the best way to transition from current card to take advantage of the 100K Bonus?

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