The Chase Southwest Companion Pass is one of, if not the, best airline perks 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.
Read on to find out what the Southwest Companion Pass is, how to get it, and our favorite ways to use it.
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:
- Once a person earns the Companion Pass (how to earn it is discussed below) they will designate the individual they want as their companion.
- The Companion Pass arrives in the mail.
- 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.
- The companion flies for free.
About as easy as it gets, right?
Here’s a closer look at how you can earn the Companion Pass:
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass in 2020
Technically, there are 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 year.
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: Open Two Southwest Credit Cards
Getting the Companion Pass is so easy because Chase is currently offering three different Southwest credit cards that EACH earn you Southwest points that count toward 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.
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 Southwest Credit Cards
The 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 both a personal and a business version of 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!
To ensure that you get the sign-up bonus for both cards (more than enough points to qualify for the Companion Pass), we recommend opening both a business and a personal card.
Since one is a personal card and one is a business card, you can apply for them at the same time without issues getting approved.
It is possible to reach the necessary number of points by opening two personal Southwest credit cards, but we don’t recommend it, as Chase is unlikely to approve an application for two personal credit cards so close together.
If applying for a business credit card feels intimidating, don’t worry. Here are some tips to get approved for a business card.
Other Ways to Earn Qualifying Points
If you only get approved for one Southwest credit card, or just want to apply for one of the cards, don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways to rack up points towards your Southwest Companion Pass.
Just a quick (but very important) heads-up: Not all the ways that you can get Southwest Rapid Rewards points to count 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 was also cut out of the equation early in 2017.
Option 2: Spend with 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!
Plus, any Southwest flights you purchase on the card earn you an additional point, making it that much easier to rack up those Rapid Rewards points! For instance, if you use your Southwest credit card to buy a $300 ticket, you’ll earn 600 points instead of just the regular 300.
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 spent on hotels. This isn’t bad, but we can do better — some hotels give you up to 10k points!
For instance, a quick search for a one night stay in Las Vegas shows many hotels with 1-2k Rapid Rewards points per night. A $254 night at The Palazzo will earn you 7,000 Rapid Rewards points when you book it with your Southwest credit card.
And when you pay for the hotel with your Southwest credit card, and you’ll earn an additional two points per dollar. Meaning that, in the above example, your total earnings would be ($254 x 2) + 7,000 = 7,508 points.
Option 4: Shop Through the Rapid 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 websites 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 when you pay with your Southwest credit card. This means iPad Pro purchase has turned into 1300 Rapid Rewards points and the clothing from JCPenney 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, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass.
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 points!
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, plus an additional two points per dollar when you book with your Southwest credit card.
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!
5 Awesome Southwest Companion Pass Benefits
Still not convinced of the value of the Southwest Companion Pass? There are five things that make the Companion Pass especially awesome. Let’s take a look at them:
1. You Can Use the Pass Unlimited Times
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 Can Remain Valid for Up to 2 Years
You may think you are
mishearing misreading me, but you aren’t. The Companion Pass 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 2020 and then all of 2021, 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. Your Companion Flies Completely Free
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. You Can Use the Companion Pass 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 3 Times Per Year
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 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).
The Southwest Companion Pass is an amazing, amazing perk and even those who only occasionally fly domestic should consider it. Southwest is expanding its route network every year with flights to the Caribbean and Latin America already happening.
For anyone who flies a decent amount (or would if it was cheaper), it’s an absolute must.
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!
[UPDATE 5/12/2015: You can no longer load your REDcard with a credit card. HOWEVER, you can still load your REDcard with gift cards.
All you have to do is follow Steps 1-5, skip Step 6, and then follow steps 7-8.]
The Target REDcard (frequently referred to as a “Redbird” card due to it’s similarity to Walmart’s Bluebird card) is far and a way the best tool for anyone who wants to:
- Meet a minimum spend requirement on a credit card.
- Pay bills that you can’t usually pay with a credit card (mortgages, student loans, rent, taxes, etc.).
- Or simply earn extra frequent flyer miles and points on your credit card.
Because it’s easy, and most importantly, totally free!
Here’s exactly how to do it:
Step 1: Find a Target that sells REDcards
The first step is actually the hardest, and that’s because at the moment only certain Target stores sell the Prepaid REDcard.
Target is slowly rolling it out to more and more stores, but it’s still in its infancy.
To check which stores currently sell Target Prepaid REDcards, click here.
If a Target near you sells Prepaid REDcards, great! Skip to Step 2.
If you don’t see a store near you listed, I’d call ones in your area and ask if they have them.
Make sure you are asking for the Target Prepaid REDcard. Stress the PREPAID part!
If a Target Near You Doesn’t Have a Prepaid REDcard:
If not, you’ll need some help to getting one. Here’s how to do that:
- 1. Find someone who lives near a Target who will purchase you one.
- 2. When that person goes to Target, have them buy an extra one for you (or many extra for multiple people).
- 3. When it comes time for the person to enter the birthday or social security number, they can either enter your information or enter fake information. It doesn’t matter, because you’ll have to enter your real information when you register it later.
- 4A. Have them send you the temporary card in the mail OR
- 4B. Have them open the REDcard and tell you the card number and the security code on the back.
Step 2: Buy the temporary Target Redcard
When you buy the card at Target, it’ll be a temporary card.
There are a few options, so make sure you get the Prepaid REDcard. It looks like this:
DO NOT BUY A TARGET DEBIT CARD OR TARGET CREDIT CARD! Get the Prepaid REDcard pictured above.
At the register, you’ll go through this process:
- When asked how much you want to load – Make sure to load at least $1. You can load up to $500. Personally, I loaded the max ($500) so I could get more points.
- Hand your driver’s license to the cashier.
- Enter your birthday, social security number and phone number on the keypad.
Step 3: Register Your Temporary Redcard
If you have an existing American Express Bluebird card or Serve account you have to close that before you can register your Redcard. You aren’t allowed to have both.
Take your temporary REDcard home and open it.
Then, go to https://secure.prepaidredcard.com/manage?intlink=us-serve-partner-target-launchmain-uppermanage
Remove the sticker from the front of your temporary REDcard.
Enter the 15 digit card number and 4 digit security code that is on your REDcard. Then enter your birthday.
After that, you’ll be prompted to enter all your information.
If you had someone else buy you a Target REDcard, make sure to enter YOUR information.
You’ll get a confirmation screen saying that your permanent card is on its way.
Step 4: Use Your Temporary REDcard OR Wait For Your Permanent Card
If you want, you can use your temporary card (which only has the money you initially loaded on at Target) wherever American Express is used.
Your temporary Redcard cannot be reloaded, used at ATM’s, or used for online functions like paying bills or sending people checks.
To do all of that, you have to wait until you get your permanent card.
For that reason, I recommend that most people just wait the 4-7 days it takes to get their permanent card in the mail to start using it. This cuts down on any confusion.
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Join hundreds of others who are using their miles to take some of the most amazing trips in the world. On top of that, we offer the one and only $1,000 guarantee. It’s literally completely risk-free!
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Step 5: Get Your Permanent REDcard in the Mail and Activate It
Once your permanent card arrives in the mail, you’ll have to activate it.
You can do it by calling 1-855-306-7395 or by going to target.com/prepaidredcard/activate
Now that it’s activated, it’s time to move on to the good stuff!
Step 6: Load Your REDcard at Target with a Credit Card
This is the easy part. Just take your permanent REDcard to Target and ask them to load it at the cash register. Here’s what’s crazy:
You can load it with a credit card, and it doesn’t cost a thing!
Currently, you can load $2500 per day and $5000 per month.
If you have a credit card that you need to make a minimum spend on, this is a great way to do it. You can knock out $5000 in just two days.
If you’re not trying to make a minimum spend, just pick the credit card whose points you want to earn and use that to load the REDcard.
Make sure you’re picking the type of points that are most valuable (you can see my rankings of the best and worst frequent flyer miles here).
Step 7 (Optional): Load Your REDcard at Target with Gift Cards
Want to get really crazy? You can also use gift cards to load the REDcard.
Why is this important?
Because you can earn even more frequent flyer miles and points!
If you have the Chase Ink Plus card, you’ll earn 5x per $1 spent at office supply stores.
That means that if you buy a $200 Visa gift card at Staples or Office Depot, you’ll earn 1,000 Chase points. Buy the gift card that looks like this:
Then, you can take that gift card and use it to load your Redcard instead of using your credit card to load your REDcard.
But why stop at one?
If you buy $5,000 worth of Visa gift cards from Staples (the amount that you can load on your REDcard each month), you’ll earn 25,000 Chase points per month.
25,000 Chase points are enough for one roundtrip ticket anywhere in North America on United!
Each $200 Visa gift card costs $6.95 to purchase. So, you’re paying $6.95 for 1,000 Chase points.
If you extrapolate that out, you’re paying:
- $173.75 for 25k Chase points – a roundtrip flight in North America
- $417 for 60k Chase points – a roundtrip economy flight to Europe
- $556 for 80k Chase points – a roundtrip economy flight to Australia, NZ, or SE Asia
If you know how to use frequent flyer miles effectively – especially if you are taking advantage of stopovers and open jaws to get 2 vacations for the price of 1– this can be an incredible deal.
Step 8: Use Your Online REDcard Account to Pay Any Bill
Now that you have funds in your REDcard account, you can easily pay any bill you’d like from this account – including things like your mortgage, rent, student loans, or any other big expense that doesn’t normally accept credit cards.
That’s because you’ll be sending a check from your REDcard account, and almost everyone accepts checks!
If you’re struggling to visualize this, just think of your REDcard account as a bank account. It operates in the same way as a regular online checking account – it just happens to be tied to Target.
Here’s how to do it:
- Login to your REDcard account
- Go to Pay & Transfer and hit the Pay Bills button on the dropdown.
- Hit Pay a Bill on the next screen.
- Pick whether you are paying a business or a person (if it’s a mortgage or student loan, they may have your company preloaded in the business part).
- Enter the information. If it’s a person, you won’t have an account number. Hit “Save and Pay”
- On the next screen, enter how much you want to pay, then you’ll hit “review”.
- On the last screen, you’ll have to enter the PIN you set when you registered the card.
- After that, hit “submit” and a check will be sent to whoever you are paying!
Step 9: Repeat Each Month and Rake in Points
Every calendar month, you’ll be able to add $5,000 on your Redcard.
As long as you have a Target near you, this is by far the easiest way to rack up miles and points and it doesn’t cost a cent.
If you did this for a year, you’d have 60k extra points, which is enough for a free roundtrip ticket to Europe!
A Few Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you know where I can get a Target Redcard?
Click here to see where they are sold. If you don’t see a store near you, make sure by calling and asking if they sell Prepaid REDcards.
2. Do you know when all Targets will start selling REDcards?
3. Do you know when or if Targets will stop allowing us to load REDcards with credit cards and gift cards?
Nope, but I imagine they won’t let it go on forever. I’d take advantage of it as much as you can while it’s available. Personally, I’m loading the $5,000 a month max each month.
4. Can someone else buy me a Prepaid REDcard?
Yes. If you know someone who lives near a Target, they can buy you one. Then, have them either send you the temporary card in the mail or give you the card number and security code. After that, you can register it online and get a permanent card sent to your home address.
4. Is buying Target REDcards for other people illegal?
5. If I’m going to buy more than one for other people, what should I say?
I simply told the cashier that I lived in Philadelphia and had driven all the way down to Maryland to get them because we didn’t have them up there yet.
I then said that my friends and family had heard about the REDcard and wanted them as well and that I was buying some for them too.
She totally understood and said she realized that only a few places had the REDcards and that it was nice of me to do that for others.
6. If someone else buys me a REDcard, do I need them to actually send me the temporary card?
No. They could open it up, give you the card number and security code, and you could “register” for your permanent card without ever actually having the temporary one in your possession.
7. How much can I load at a time?
$2,500 per day and $5,000 per month. You can only load $1,000 per swipe of your card, so if you are loading $2,500, you’ll have to ask the cashier to do it three separate times ($1k, $1k, $500).
The Target REDcard is an absolutely amazing way to meet minimum spends, get points for paying bills that you can usually pay with a credit card, or just rack up points very easily.
I highly recommend you start doing it as soon as possible, as there is no telling how long it will last.
And if it sounds a little confusing, trust me, it’s not. As soon as you do it once, you’ll realize how easy it is.
I get it, frequent flyer miles can be complicated and confusing. 2 years ago, I created Frequent Flyer Bootcamp to personally walk you through each and every step. Now, hundreds of people are traveling the world for (almost) free.
You’ll learn everything you need to know in less than one month, and we even have the one and only $1,000 guarantee.
If you thought this post was helpful in explaining a difficult subject, you’ll be blown away by our concise, easy to understand library of video lessons.
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FURTHER READING (POSTS HANDPICKED FOR YOU…BY US!)
None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!
If you liked this post, then you’ll love these as well:
[UPDATE: You can no longer use the steps below to pay your mortgage, student loans, etc. with a credit card. HOWEVER, there is another, even better way. Click here to learn how.]
(Want to see a video of me doing it? You can check it out here!)
Earning frequent flyer miles for big, recurring monthly bills, such as a mortgage, rent, or student loan payment, has been the holy grail of frequent flyers for years. They’ve searched high and low for ways to do it, but to no avail…
Let me show you, step by step, just how to earn frequent flyer miles for paying your big monthly bills.
Step 1: Apply for a Bluebird card
How to do it:
- Go to bluebird.com and sign up for your free Bluebird card.
- You’ll receive it in the mail in a few days.
- Activate it online at bluebird.com
Step 2: Buy Vanilla Reload Cards At CVS with a Credit Card
CVs is the only place I know that allows you to buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card.
Make sure you are buying the Vanilla Reload card that looks EXACTLY like this:
Get the card that looks EXACTLY like this!
How to do it:
- Find the Vanilla Reload cards that look exactly like the one above. Don’t buy anything that says Vanilla but doesn’t look the same (Frequent Miler has a great round up of all the Vanilla cards).
- Make sure to load each Vanilla Reload card with $500. Again, you’ll have to pay the $4.95 activation fee regardless of the denomination, so always load with $500.
- Pay for the Vanilla cards with your credit card.
Cost: $3.95 activation fee per card.
Step 3: Load the Vanilla Reload Cards on to Your Bluebird Card
How to do it:
- Go to Vanillareload.com.
- Put your Bluebird card number in the “Card Number” box.
- Scratch off the back of the Vanilla Reload card and put that number in the “PIN Number” box.
- The money will automatically be transferred to your Bluebird card.
Step 4: Use the Bluebird Card to Pay Your Mortgage or Student Loans
How to do it:
- Go to Bluebird.com and sign in to your account.
- Go to Pay Bills.
- Search for the company you want to pay (i.e. I’ll search for Wells Fargo for my mortgage).
- If it shows up, simply select it and enter your account information.
- If it does not show up (ex. Discover Student Loans did not show up for me), input the information and the address and Bluebird will send a check.
- That’s it. You’ve paid a major bill that you previously were never able to earn miles for.
Step 5: Watch Those Miles Roll In
Is It Worth it?
I would say that this is definitely worth it to help you meet the minimum spend requirement. As long as you live near a CVS, it’s pretty painless.
Also, because you are paying $3.95 for 500 miles, you are buying those miles for 0.8 cents per miles.
While doing this every month when not meeting a minimum spend requirement may be too much of a hassle for some people, I do it each month.
0.8 cents per mile is much less than an airline charges you to buy miles outright, and so it’s definitely worth it for me.
So, who is going to be running to the nearest CVS?
And if you’re already doing it, what places other than CVS allow you to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card?
Comment below, folks!
(photo courtesy of kenobiwanX)