You’ve probably seen the Southwest TV ads where the airline proudly calls out their friendliness and their love of bags. Add to that the Southwest Companion Pass and the airline truly sets itself apart from the pack with one of the best travel rewards out there.
In this guide, find out exactly what makes the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass so amazing and how you can earn it and get free travel for a companion for nearly 2 years!
The Southwest Companion Pass:
Why You Should Love It and How to Earn It
Southwest is a budget, mainly domestic airline, that has branched out to the Caribbean and Central America, adding destinations like Costa Rica, Mexico, and Turks & Caicos. Southwest’s “Wanna Get Away” fares and the ability to book award flights on any open seat have made the airline exceedingly popular with both budget travelers and miles and points enthusiasts.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
Quite simply, it’s a pass offered by Southwest that lets you as a Rapid Rewards Member bring a companion with you when you fly on Southwest for FREE, with the exception of paying the tax on the ticket.
But here’s truly the best part. The SW Companion Pass allows you to fly a lucky companion along with you on your travels for an unlimited number of flights for up to 2 years!
Once you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, choose your companion and book your flights on Southwest by selecting the add a companion option. If booking over the phone, just tell the agent you’d like to add a companion to your itinerary.
There are no blackout dates or restrictions. If seats are available, you can add a companion. 🙂
How long is the Southwest Companion Pass valid!?
Once you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, it’s valid for the remainder of the year you earn it in AND the entire following calendar year. If you earn the companion pass at the beginning of a new year, say January or February, you can use it for the rest of the year and the entire following year for almost 2 years of free companion flights.
Better yet, you can use the companion pass as many times as you want, anywhere Southwest flies! There is no limit to the number of times you can add a companion to your travel itinerary. The Southwest Companion Pass rules even let you change your designated companion up to 3 times a year while your pass is valid.
Where does Southwest fly?
Southwest is primarily a domestic airline but has also expanded to places like Belize, Cabo San Lucas, Grand Cayman. There’s also been a ton of excited buzz about Southwest’s upcoming new routes to Hawaii.
With the Companion Pass, Southwest’s route map is your oyster. You’re not limited to only domestic destinations. Whether you want to visit the Utah National Parks or snorkel in the Bahamas, Southwest can get you and your companion there!
ProTip: Southwest flights are also great positioning flights. If you’re looking to use your miles and points to fly to Tokyo and the only award availability you’re seeing is from Los Angeles, a flight from your home airport with your companion on Southwest could be a very inexpensive way to position yourself at the airport you need.
How do you earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
As a Southwest Rapid Rewards member, you need to earn 110k Rapid Rewards Points in a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass.
Obviously, that’s an insane number of Rapid Rewards Points if you were earning them only by flying. Unless you’re a hardcore business traveler who always flies Southwest Airlines, it’s basically impossible to get to 110k Rapid Reward Points through travel alone.
So, how do you earn 110k Rapid Reward Points?
All hope is not lost! There are a few other ways to earn 110k Rapid Rewards points in the same calendar year. The easiest way to earn the points is by applying for 2 Chase Southwest Credit Cards.
Chase offers 4 different Southwest co-branded credit cards.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
In the past, it was possible to get 2 Southwest personal cards. However, Chase has tightened the rules and now only allows 1 personal card in the Southwest family of cards at a time. You also aren’t eligible for a personal Southwest credit card if you’ve earned a bonus on one of the cards in the last 24 months.
The good news is it’s still possible to be approved for 1 Southwest personal card and 1 Southwest Business card.
Usually, these Southwest cards offer a 40k point sign-up bonus after meeting some amount in minimum spend. However, periodically throughout the year, Southwest offers a 50k and even 60k point sign-up bonus. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card has a tiered minimum spend allowing cardholders to earn 65k points.
Getting 1 of the personal cards and the business card during the increased sign-up periods will earn between 100k-110k points. You’ll also earn points from the spending you do to meet the minimum spend.
At this point, you’ll have enough or be very close to earning the pass. Any remaining points can be earned by:
- Using your credit card for everyday spending.
- Shopping through the Southwest Shopping Portal.
- Taking advantage of Southwest’s home and lifestyle partners.
- Referring a friend for a Southwest Credit Card.
Do all Southwest Rapid Rewards Points count?
No. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points transfer directly to Southwest, but these points will not count toward earning the Companion Pass. Southwest also no longer allows hotel points to be transferred and used to earn the Companion Pass.
In addition, points that are purchased, gifted, or transferred from another Rapid Rewards account don’t count toward the 110k points either. This also means you can’t get 1 of the Southwest credit cards while your spouse gets another. The Southwest Points transferred from one account to another won’t go toward the Companion Pass.
Lastly, beware of Rapid Reward point bonuses offered in the shopping portal or by a lifestyle partner. For example, if the Southwest shopping portal is offering a seasonal bonus for spending a specific amount of money during a promotional period, the points earned from shopping regularly will count but the bonus points won’t.
And, are the Southwest Cards subject to Chase’s 5/24?
Yes. If you are over 5/24, you won’t be approved for the Southwest credit cards. Business cards don’t add to your overall 5/24 count, but some, like the Southwest Premier Business card, are still subject to the rule.
If you’re at 4/24 and would like to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, apply for the business card first. If and when you get approved, the card won’t be added to your card application count in the last 24 months, leaving you a slot for a Southwest personal card.
What’s the biggest Companion Pass mistake to avoid?
It’s all about the timing. Ideally, you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass at the start of a new year to maximize the amount of time you have the pass. In order to do this, the Southwest Rapid Reward points you earn must post to your account in that same calendar year.
For example, if you’re trying to earn the Companion Pass for 2019-2020, you need the Rapid Rewards points to post to your account in 2019 and preferably at the start of the year. By doing so, you’ll have the Companion Pass from the date you earn it in 2019 through the end of 2020! That’s nearly 2 full years a free travel for a companion.
If you apply for the Southwest Credit Cards at the end of the year, make sure you don’t meet all the minimum spend until after the new year. If you do, it could mean earning the Companion Pass for significantly less time or not at all if the bonuses end up posting in 2 different calendar years.
What happens to the 110k Rapid Rewards Points after you earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
The 110k Rapid Rewards Points are not exchanged for the companion pass. You aren’t trading the points in for the companion pass!
You can redeem those points for award flights for yourself while your companion flies free with the pass!
Simply use your Rapid Rewards points to book a flight for yourself (or pay cash if you want). Then, look for the “Add Companion” option on your itinerary. You can add a companion right up until flight time as long as there’s a seat available on the plane.
Are you trying to earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
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