The Southwest Companion Pass: What It Is, Why It’s Awesome, and How To Get It!
The Chase Southwest Companion Pass is one of, if not the, best airline perk out there. For people who fly domestically, it is an absolute must-have.
Even for people who don’t fly domestically that often, it can still provide incredible value and is probably worth getting.
WHAT IS THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS
The name of the card is not intended to fool; the Southwest Companion Pass is exactly what it says it is.
The pass allows a companion (spouse, mother, friend, favorite blogger) to fly free with you when you fly on Southwest.
And unlike many other airlines, Southwest does not make the rules super confusing. In fact, the process is fairly straightforward:
1. Once a person earns the Companion Pass (how to earn it is discussed below) they will designate the individual they want as their companion.
2. The Companion Pass arrives in the mail.
3. When the person is booking their tickets online, there is an option to choose to use the Companion Pass. When the person is booking over the phone, they simply have to tell the representative they want to use the Companion Pass.
4. The companion will fly for free.
About as easy as it gets, right?
WHY THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS IS AWESOME (WITH A CAPITAL A!)
There are five things that make this companion pass especially awesome. Let’s take a look at them:
1. YOU CAN USE THIS PASS AS MANY TIMES AS YOU’D LIKE.
This is not a one-time pass, but instead allows a companion to fly free with you EVERY TIME you fly Southwest.
Yes, you are hearing me correctly: EVERY SINGLE TIME you fly Southwest.
Theoretically, I could fly Southwest every day and my companion would fly free with me each and every time.
2. THE COMPANION PASS IS VALID FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR THAT YOU EARN IT AND THE ENTIRE NEXT YEAR.
Again, you may think you are
mis-hearing mis-reading me, but you aren’t. It is good for the year you earn it and the next calendar year as well.
Example: Let’s say you get your Companion Pass on October 1st. Your Companion Pass will then be good for October, November, and December of 2017 and then all of 2018, for a total of 15 months.
Of course, the way to squeeze maximum value out of it is to get it as early in the year as possible (like January) and then you’d have it for a full two years.
3. THE COMPANION PASS IS A LEGITIMATELY FREE PASS.
With most things in life, free doesn’t mean free, and a lot of times there is enough red tape and rules to make the “free” item not even worth it.
This is NOT the case with the Southwest Companion Pass.
In this case, free really does mean free.
The only thing that the companion will be required to pay is a government-mandated September 11th security fee and taxes which is about $5.60 one way.
Other than that, there are no costs for the companion whatsoever.
And in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last two years, you should be aware that bags fly free on Southwest (awesome commercial evidence here, here, and here), so the companion won’t even have to worry about that cost!
4. THE COMPANION PASS CAN USED ON BOTH PAID AND AWARD FLIGHTS.
Whether you pay out of pocket for your flight or use some of the Southwest miles you’ve accumulated to get an award ticket, your companion can still fly free with you.
This is basically unheard of in the airline world, as every other companion pass (that I’m aware of) requires the original person to pay for their ticket.
Not on Southwest.
So whether you pay $500 for a last minute ticket, $150 for their normally cheap regular fares, or fly free yourself using your Southwest miles, your companion can come along as well.
What’s better than one person flying free on Southwest?
TWO PEOPLE FLYING FREE ON SOUTHWEST!
5. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR DESIGNATED COMPANION UP TO THREE TIMES.
This is perfect for people who like to engage in fickle relationships or who have tons of friends who love to mooch off of them (I only fall in to one of these categories)!
After you originally designate your companion you can change it and get a Companion Pass reissued with another person’s name up to three times a calendar year each year you maintain your Companion Pass.
This can be done instantly over the phone and is an awesome perk that often gets overlooked among all the other amazing things about the pass.
I’ll give you a good example of how I plan to use this to my advantage.
Naturally, Heather (my wife) will be my companion on many of my trips.
However, instead of designating her as my original companion, I plan on designating my best friend Jon because we are planning a trip together down to Florida.
After we take our trip and he flies for free (saving him anywhere between $150-300), I’ll call in and ask to designate Heather as my new companion.
Then, we’ll use the Companion Pass to fly all over this awesome country of ours (You could even go visit old friends!).
You can even designate a new companion (i.e. Jon), change it to someone else (Heather) and then change it back to the original person (Jon).
Convinced about the awesomeness of the Southwest Companion Pass and ready to learn about how to get your hands on one? Read on.
HOW TO EARN THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS
Technically, there are actually two different ways to earn the Companion Pass:
- By flying 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest in a calendar year.
- Earn 110,00 Southwest points in one calendar year.
Since 99% of people won’t fly enough on Southwest to earn it the first way, we will focus on how to earn 110,000 Southwest points in one calendar.
At first glance, this may seem difficult, but in fact, it’s not hard AT ALL – below are all the options for earning 110,000 Southwest points in one calendar year.
option 1: EARN points BY OPENING TWO CREDIT CARDS
The reason getting the Companion Pass is so easy is because Chase is currently offering three different Southwest credit cards that EACH earn you Southwest points and these points DO COUNT towards the Companion Pass.
The amount of points each credit card earns changes throughout the year, but you can generally get these cards with bonuses between 25-60k.
Historically, all three cards have their highest bonuses (60k Southwest Points) during the summertime. That’s more than enough to earn you the Southwest Companion Pass with just two card bonuses!
All you have to do is open up two of these credit cards and you’ll be at 110k Southwest points and the Southwest Companion Pass before you know it!
Plus vs. Premier
First thing to be aware of is that there are two types of Southwest cards, the Plus and the Premier. These cards differ slightly:
- The Plus has an annual fee of $69 and offers 3,000 Southwest points as an anniversary bonus each year you keep it open. Also, it charges a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
- The Premier has an annual fee of $99 and offers 6,000 Southwest points as an anniversary bonus each year you keep it open. It has no foreign transaction fee, so you pay nothing extra when you use it abroad.
The second thing to understand is that Chase offers a personal card and a business card for the Southwest Premier card.
That means there is a Plus personal card, a Premier personal card, and a Premier business card. Three opportunities to make the Southwest Companion Pass yours!
The most surefire way to make sure you get both the signup bonus for both cards and get close to or even more than 110k (and my recommendation) is to open up one personal card and one business card.
Since one is a personal card and one is a business card you can apply for them at the same time and there shouldn’t be a problem with getting approved.
Here are some tips to get approved for a business card.
If you don’t feel comfortable getting a business card and still want the Companion Pass, you MAY be able to get two personal cards (one Plus and one Premier) and earn plenty of Southwest points that way.
Personally, I think this is a much riskier strategy than going for one personal and one business, but if you are going to do it, I’d make I’d make sure to have the first one open for a while (at least three months) before applying for the second one and offering to close it.
And just remember, those Southwest points that you earn are actual points that you can redeem for free travel.
120k Southwest points equates to around $1,800 worth of Wanna Get Away Fares on Southwest in their own right, so not only are you earning all of the points you need towards the Companion Pass, but you are also getting $1,800 worth of free Southwest travel!
Talk about some major double dipping!
Other Ways to Earn Points
Just a quick (but very important) heads-up: Not all ways that you can get Southwest Rapid Rewards points counts towards the Companion Pass, so be careful.
For example, buying 6,000 Southwest points WILL NOT count towards the Southwest Companion Pass, nor will transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Southwest. Transferring points from hotel loyalty programs were also cut out of the equation early in 2017.
Option 2: SPEND $$$$ ON THE SOUTHWEST CREDIT CARD.
For each dollar you spend, you’ll earn one Southwest point, so if you spend $6,000, you’ll earn 6k points!
Any Southwest flights your purchase on the card earn you an additional point making it that much easier to rack up those Rapid Rewards points!
I’d recommend this for anyone who has a big purchase planned or plenty of monthly expenses that you can pay with a credit card.
Your regular monthly spending could earn you your Southwest Companion Pass in no time!
Option 3: Book hotels through Southwest Hotels.
If you are planning any travel in the near future, consider booking your hotel through Southwest Hotels.
The base rates for points will count towards your Southwest Companion Pass.
Generally you’ll earn one point per dollar at hotels (not bad, but we can do better!) however some hotels give you up to 10k points!
A quick search for a one night stay in Las Vegas shows many hotels with 1-2k Rapid Rewards points per night.
Pay for the hotel with your Southwest credit card and you’ll earn an additional two points per dollar.
A $169 night at Excalibur will earn you 1169 Rapid Rewards points when you book it with your Southwest credit card.
While you might be losing out on points with your preferred hotel chain when booking through Southwest Hotels, you’ll be earning points towards your Southwest Companion Pass.
The Southwest Companion Pass will more than make up for the few lost points with the hotel rewards program, though!
Option 4: Shopping on the Rapids rewards shopping portal.
Everyone shops online – so why not earn something for it?
There are lots of stores on the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal that you probably already shop at, so make sure you visit those shops through the portal and earn points towards your Southwest Companion Pass for buying what you were already going to buy!
Earn Rapid Rewards points at website like Restaurant.com, Home Chef, Shutterstock, Bass Pro Shops, Lord & Taylor, Tumi, Apple, and Nike.
Buying a new iPad Pro? That’s 650 points towards your Southwest Companion Pass.
Buying $100 worth of clothes for the kids at JCPenny? That’s three points per dollar equalling 300 points!
The best part is that you can double dip with your Southwest credit card and your iPad Pro has turned into 1300 Rapid Rewards points and the clothing from JCPenny has become 400 points.
All of these points count towards your Southwest Companion Pass!
There are hundreds of websites listed so make sure you check the Rapid Rewards portal before you click “buy” and you’ll be well on your way to the Southwest Companion Pass!
Option 5: Go out to eat with rapid rewards dining.
If you go out to eat a lot, you could be leaving money on the table. (Well, hopefully you are leaving at least 20% for good service!)
Signing up for Rapid Rewards Dining Program will earn you up to three points per dollar towards your Southwest Companion Pass at participating restaurants.
That means a $20 dinner would net you 60 Rapid Rewards point!
If you use your Southwest credit card, you can double dip and earn even more!
Your $20 dinner just turned into 80 Rapid Rewards points just by using the right credit card. Who thinks double dipping is bad now?
Option 6: Fly Southwest airlines.
This might seem like a no brainer, but it really does make sense. You’ll earn miles for your fare and if you book with your Southwest credit card, you’ll earn an additional two points per dollar.
You’ll earn Rapid Rewards points based on the fare you buy:
- 6 points for Wanna Get Away
- 10 points for Anytime
- 12 points for Business Select
If you book a $200 Wanna Get Away fare, you’ll earn 1,200 Rapid Rewards points.
If you book that same fare with your Southwest Credit card, you’ll earn an additional 400 points for a total of 1600 Rapid Rewards points!
A $300 Anytime fare will earn you 3000 Rapid Rewards points (300×10=3000!)
If you’re a little short on Companion Pass qualifying points, spending a little extra on your next Southwest flight could bump you up to two for one travel for the next year!
If your goal is the Southwest Companion Pass, then getting used to traveling with Southwest Airlines and kickstarting your points earning with them is an easy call.
The Southwest Companion Pass is an amazing, amazing perk and even those who only occasionally fly domestic should consider it. Southwest is expanding their route network every year with flights to the Caribbean and Latin America already happening.
For anyone who flies a decent amount (or would like to if it was cheaper) its an absolute must.
With Chase offering 60k for each card right now and those points counting towards the Companion Pass (two things that could change without warning) the time is now to jump on it.
Grab a personal and business card, find a good companion, and experience the joys of free travel!
If you’ve got the Southwest Companion Pass, weigh in below. Is my love for it justified? Where have you gone with it? If you don’t have it, how do you plan on getting it? Fire away!
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