What is it?
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable tools in any travel hacker’s arsenal. The pass entitles you to take a designated companion with you for just $5.60 each way, on every southwest flight you take for up to 2 years! If you regularly fly with someone else, the savings from having a companion pass are potentially unlimited. I am personally on my 2nd companion pass. My girlfriend and I have been flying 2 for the price of 1 for the last 3+ years.
How do you get it?
In order to get the pass you need to earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest Rapid Rewards in a calendar year. You can get qualifying points from credit card sign up bonuses, credit card spending, or shopping through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal. It is important to note that transferring points from other points/miles programs DOES NOT count towards your qualifying points. While this may sound like alot of Rapid Rewards to accrue in a year, there is actually a very easy way to get the points.
The easiest way to get the 110,000 points is through credit card sign up bonuses. Southwest currently offers 3 different credit cards each with a signup bonus of 40,000 Rapid Reward after spending $1,000 in 3 months. A few times per year Southwest will run promotions with elevated sign up bonuses. The most common offer is 50,000 points after spending $2,000 within 3 months, but recent offers have been as high as 60,000 points.
Which cards do you need to get?
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Business Premier ($99 annual fee)
Check for promotional offers before using the links above. These links are for the standard 40,000 point offer. If there aren’t any elevated offers at the time, using the links above is much appreciated. I will always recommend the highest offer over a referral link.
My advice would be to apply for 2 of the above cards on the same day. I have personally gotten the Plus and Premier twice, both times I applied for each card just minutes apart.
If you wait for a promotional period, all it takes is opening 2 of these cards to earn at least 104,000+ points (100,000 sign up bonus points + 4,000 points earned from meeting spending requirements). From there all you have to do is earn an additional 6,000 qualifying points through any of the ways mentioned above and you’ll have your companion pass and 110,000+ Rapid Rewards. Even better, if you apply during a 60,000 point promotion, all you’ll have to do is it meet the spending requirements and you’re done!
Once you have your pass it is good for rest of the year in which you earned it in, as well as the entire following year. Thats up to 2 years of 2 for 1 pricing on every Southwest flight you take!
How do you use the companion pass?
Once you have the pass, using it couldn’t be much easier. Whenever you book a flight on Southwest, whether it’s a paid ticket or award ticket, you’ll see an “Add Companion” button beneath your flight on your Rapid Rewards account page. Click that button, pay the $5.60 fee per each way, and you’re all set! Your companion now has a ticket on your flight with you. If you book a flight using your newly earned 110,000+ Rapid Rewards points, you can still add your companion. That means you and your companion could both be flying for almost free!
Furthermore, you are allowed to change your companion up to 3x per calendar year. This means you could potentially have 7 different companions over the life of your companion pass.
How often can you get these cards?
You are eligible to get the sign up bonus on these cards if you do not currently have the card and have not recieved the bonus in the previous 24 months. Each card is a seperate product so having one does not prevent you from getting any of the others. These cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, so take that into account before applying.
Pro-Tips to Supercharge the Companion Pass
- If you and your companion alternate who holds the companion pass every 2 years, you could have this benefit indefinitely for as long as Southwest offers the companion pass. The process looks like this:
- Person A gets the companion pass. Designates Person B as their companion.
- Enjoy the companion pass for up to 2 years.
- Person A cancels both cards they used to earn the pass.
- Person B opens 2 Southwest Cards and earns the Companion Pass. Designates Person A as their companion.
- Enjoy the companion pass for another 2 years.
- Person B cancels their cards. By this time Person A is once again eligible for the bonuses.
- Person A gets the pass again by opening 2 Southwest Cards. Designates Person B as their companion.
- Rinse and Repeat by alternating who gets the pass every 2 years.
- Try and earn the companion pass as early in the year as possible. Points are posted during the statement in which you meet the spending requirement. This means if you see an elevated offer at the very end of the year you should jump on it. Make sure you hit the spending requirement in the very beginning of the following year. This will allow you to maximize how long you have the pass for. It looks like this:
- Elevated offer in December of 2017. Apply for 2 of the 3 cards.
- Hit the spending requirement on both cards in January/February of 2018. DO NOT meet the spending requirements in 2017.
- You will now have the companion pass for the rest of 2018, and all of 2019! Almost 2 full years!
Short and Sweet Version
- Get 2 Southwest Cards during elevated offer periods, meet the spending requirement to get sign up bonuses worth at least 100,000 points.
- Earn an additional 10,000 Rapid Rewards through traditional credit card spending.
- Get companion pass.
- Your companion gets to fly with you on every Southwest flight for just $5.60 each way for up to 2 years.
Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the editorial content nor the comments on this site are provided by the companies whose products are featured. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author’s alone.