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 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!
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.
To briefly recap, “limited” points are only allowed to be used as cash for purchasing travel through Chase (at 1.2 cents per point) or as cash-back (at 1 cent a point). They are NOT allowed to be transferred to travel partners like United, Hyatt, Southwest, etc.
“Premium” points are much more valuable because they ARE allowed to be transferred to travel partners like United, Hyatt, and Southwest. This opens up tons of possibilities, and if you’re good, you can make each Chase premium point worth 2 cents or more!
So, the goal is to turn “limited” points in to “premium” points, which amazingly, can be done…and done quickly and easily!
Combining Points from a “Limited” Account and “Premium” Account
Most people who are earning large amounts of “limited” points are doing so by using the Chase Freedom, but the Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink Classic, and Chase Ink Cash also earn “limited” points.
To turn these “limited” points to “premium” points, you’ll need to have one card that earns “premium” Ultimate Rewards points. These cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (my review), Chase Ink Bold (my review), or Chase Ink Plus (my review).
If you have one of those cards, it is very simple to transfer your “limited” points to “premium” points. All you’ll have to do is sign in to to your Ultimate Rewards account and combine your points. Just make sure you are transferring your points FROM the “limited” account TO the “premium” account.
Voila….you’ve got all “premium” Ultimate Rewards points.
Don’t believe it’s that easy? Watch me do it in less that 2 minutes WHILE explaining exactly how to do it!
Ok, so that’s great for people who have a “premium” UR account, but what if you only have a “limited” account? Fear not!
Transferring Points From One Person To Another
Another awesome benefit: Chase allows you to combine points between people! And get this…the people don’t even have to be related.
You can transfer points from your account to ANYONE!
The real benefit of this comes when one person DOES NOT have a “premium” account but wants to transfer their “limited” points to a travel partner.
They can use someone else who has a “premium” account as a middleman!
This exact situation happened a few days ago with an EPoP reader. Jason had earned “limited” UR points from his Chase Freedom card and had no other Chase accounts.
Jason wanted to turn transfer his points to Hyatt, but because they were “limited” UR points, he wasn’t allowed.
Instead, I offered to allow him to transfer his “limited” points to my Ultimate Reward account that was tied to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and therefore, a “premium” account. All he needed was my account number and my full name. After putting that in, the points arrived in my account in less than a minute.
Since the points were now in my “premium” account, they could be transferred to Hyatt. I simply used Jason’s Hyatt number and full name when transferring the points to Hyatt, and within a few minutes, they were in his account.
All told, it took less than 5 minutes for Jason to turn his “limited” points in to Hyatt points.
Just follow these easy steps:
1. Transfer your limited points to a friend who has a premium account. You’ll need that person’s premium UR account number and full name.
2. Have your friend transfer the points, which are now premium points, to the travel partner you want. They’ll need YOUR full name and membership number.
If you don’t have a “premium” card yet, you should definitely consider getting one! You’ll be earning one of the best currencies of points out there AND you’ll be able to turn your “limited” points in to more valuable ones! You don’t have to involve anyone else, and it takes less than 2 minutes.
If you’re not able to get a “premium” card, find a friend or family member who does and ask them to act as the middleman.
You should NEVER keep your Ultimate Rewards points as “limited” points since they are FAR LESS valuable than “premium” points. Since Chase makes it so easy to upgrade your points from “limited” to “premium”, you’ve got no excuses!
How do you change your “limited” points to “premium” points? What’s your favorite Chase card? Let me know below!
Chase Ultimate Reward (UR) points are the currency that Chase uses to reward people who use their cards that are not tied to a specific airline or hotel chain.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points offer some incredible value, and if used right, can actually be more beneficial than credit cards that offer miles with a specific airline because they UR points are extremely flexible.
UR points are in direct competition with American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points.
This series will explain all the facets of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including ways to earn them, ways to use them, how to transfer them (both between accounts and to partner airlines and hotels), and lastly, the best ways to maximize them.
By the end, you’ll be a Chase Ultimate Rewards pro and you’ll see why they are my preferred frequent flyer currency!
For now, though, let’s start with how to earn UR points. You can love them all you want, but if you don’t have any, they aren’t doing you any good!
The absolute easiest way to earn a huge amount of Ultimate Rewards points at one time is through credit card signups. Luckily, Chase has quite a few good offers out there, so unless you’ve collected them all already, you have some good options to pick from.
Before we start looking at cards, there is one VERY important distinction that you must understand; the difference between “premium” Ultimate Rewards points and “limited” Ultimate Rewards points.
This is an area that quite a few people get confused on, so its time to set the record straight.
Premium Ultimate Rewards points vs. Limited Ultimate Rewards points
“Limited” UR points vs. “Premium” UR points is just as one-sided!
As the name implies, premium UR points are much more valuable than limited UR points. Premium UR points can be used two ways:
To redeem as cash for travel bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, at a value of 1.2 cents per point.
Limited UR points can only be used as cash for travel bought through the Chase Rewards Mall, at a value of 1.0 cents per point.
And while it is nice that the premium UR points are worth 20% more when redeemed as cash for travel, the MAJOR difference is that premium UR points can be transferred to partners whereas limited UR points cannot be transferred.
This opens up a range of possibilities and usually gives you much better value than simply redeeming them for 1.2 cents per point.
Now, it’s important to know which Chase cards earn you which type of points, as many people often get confused about this.
What Cards Earn Which Type of Points
The following cards earn you “premium” Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which ARE transferable to partners:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Ink Bold [No longer available]
Chase Ink Plus
The following cards earn you “limited” Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which ARE NOT transferable to partners:
Chase Ink Classic
Chase Ink Cash
So does this make cards that offer you limited points worthless?
Chase allows you to combine your Ultimate Rewards points by transferring between your accounts, regardless of if they are “limited” or “premium” points.
What this means is that as long as you have one of the cards that earns “premium” points, you can transfer the points you earn on the “limited” cards to “premium” account and VOILA!, those “limited” points are now “premium” points.
Just remember though: You need to have at least ONE “premium” card to transfer the “limited” points to or else they will remain limited points and have very little value.
To recap: Premium UR points are great, limited UR points are not that great. If you have a card that earns limited UR points, get a card that earns you premium points and combine your points in that premium account.
Now that you understand the difference between the two types of UR points, let’s take a look at which cards will earn you what points and how many!
Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Card Signup Bonuses
Below is a list of the cards that earn Chase UR points and the current signup bonus.
Chase Ink Classic: 25,000 “limited” Chase UR points
Chase Ink Cash: 25,000 “limited” Chase UR points
The Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus my three favorite credit cards. Yes, they are #1, #2A and #2B in my mind (the Ink Bold and Ink Plus are virtually identical cards). I use them for all of my everyday spending.
Obviously, I highly recommend all three of the cards. The signup bonuses for all three cards are substantial (40k and 50k) and because they earn “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, they are super valuable since they can be transferred to many partners, including my favorites, United and Hyatt!
In addition, all three cards also offer some nice category bonuses for spending, which we’ll discuss in a later post.
The Freedom, which offers 5x points on different rotating categories, is another card to consider. I wouldn’t suggest it right now since the signup bonus is a paltry 10k, but if the bonus gets bumped up to 20k or 30k, then go for it!
Just remember that you’ll need either the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to turn those “limited” points you earn with the Freedom in to “premium” points.
I’d only recommend applying for the regular Sapphire, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash after you’ve received all the “premium” cards. The signup bonuses are lower, and unless you have a premium card, you’ll be earning limited points.
If you have exhausted all the “premium” options, wow, good for you! Then, it’s time to start thinking about nabbing the 25k signup bonus for the Ink Cash or Ink Classic.
Signing up for a Chase credit card (or two…or three) is BY FAR the quickest way to build up your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
However, when signing up, make sure that you applying for cards that earn “premium” points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus.
Since these are all different products, you can earn the signup bonus from each. Opening these three cards would net you a quick 140k Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Talk about a nice jump-start!
Personally, Chase UR points are my favorite frequent flyer currency and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Chase are three of the best cards out there. If you don’t already have them, I would strongly suggest you consider getting one and start earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points now!
What Chase signup bonuses have you snagged? Which ones are you targeting in the future? Let me know in the comments below!
Today at EPoP its time to get personal. I feel like we’ve reached that level in our relationship; it’s been 8 months, after all. Shouldn’t we reveal stuff to each other? So today, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, something I haven’t mentioned before on the blog….
I’M A TWIN!
Yes, it’s true. There is another 29 year old out there in this world (currently Spain) who shares the same birthday, same set of parents, and same upbringing as myself. Scary, huh? Luckily for my twin, we aren’t identical. You see, she’s a girl.
(quick side note: You won’t believe the number of people (at least 500 in my life) who know that I have a twin SISTER and ask me if we are identical twins. Usually, I ask them why their school didn’t offer health class in 5th grade.
When this baffles them, I remind them that “boys” and “girls” have different body parts, thereby not allowing them to be identical. It’s amazing the questions science can answer!)
And while there is one major difference between my sister and I, we tend to share a lot of the same qualities, neurosis, and quirks (for better or worse). The Chase Ink Plus and the Chase Ink Bold are very similar in this way. [The Ink Bold Card is no longer available from Chase]
One Major Difference
Danny and Arnold…more than one major difference!
The one major difference between the Chase Ink Bold and the Chase Ink Plus is that the Ink Bold is a CHARGE card while the Ink Plus is a CREDIT card.
This is an important distinction.
Since the Ink Bold is a charge card, the balance must be paid in full each month. You can not roll over a balance from month to month. You MUST pay the full amount each month.
The Ink Plus is a credit card, which means that you can carry a balance on it from month to month. I NEVER, EVER recommend carrying a balance because the interest you are paying on that balance negates any frequent flyer benefits you are getting from the card, but the Ink Plus will allow you to do so if you need to.
Mary Kate and Ashley…not identical, but pretty close!
Outside of the charge card vs. credit card difference, EVERYTHING ELSE about these two cards is the same. The Ink Plus has all the awesome, amazing perks that the Ink Bold has. And if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that I LOVE the Ink Bold, so if you guessed that I LOVE the Ink Plus, you’d be spot on. It’s an awesome, awesome card!
So instead of writing another 1,300 word love letter to the Ink Plus, I’ll just point you towards the one I wrote to the Ink Bold (it’s right here, my first public love letter) and each time you read “Bold”, substitute “Plus”. Remember, they’re twins!
For those of you who don’t feel like reading my eloquently written love letter, here is a list of the awesome perks that the Ink Plus and Ink Bold share:
Signup bonus of 50k Chase Ultimate Rewards points (transferable to United and Hyatt, among others) after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
5x for every $1 spent on cable, internet, and cellphone bills
5x on every $1 spent at office supply stores (including gift cards, which means you can buy gift cards and essentially get 5x on every purchase you make!)
2x on gas, a huge bonus when the gas is at $4 a gallon!
2x on hotels and motels
1x on everything else
$95 annual fee WAIVED FOR THE FIRST YEAR
No foreign transaction fee
There is ALOT to like about this card.
Of course, the one major complaint about the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards is the minimum spend requirement, which is $5,000 in 3 months.
Only get this card if you can definitely hit the minimum spend requirement. $5,000 in 3 months can be steep for some people, so always err on the side of caution.
If you can’t meet the $5k requirement, there are plenty of other options listed on the Best Current Deals page.
The Big Question: Can You Get Both Cards?
Twins having their cake and eating it too!
This is an emphatic YES!
Even though these cards are “twins”, they are considered different cards by Chase and therefore you are eligible to earn the signup bonus for BOTH cards.
Psssttt….I don’t really think you have to be a twin to love a twin.
In fact, the Chase Ink Plus is such an AWESOME card and I’d recommend it to EVERYONE who thinks they can meet the minimum spend requirement, single, twin, triplet, or otherwise!
The 50k bonus is great and the bonus categories allow you to rack up tons of extra Chase UR points.
Most importantly, you’re eligible to get the signup bonus for the Ink Plus even if you already have the Ink Bold since it is considered a different card by Chase.
When you’re flying free on United or staying at uber-posh Hyatts you’ll be glad you applied for this card!