We love Chase Ultimate Rewards points because they are super flexible, and depending on how you use them, you can redeem them for almost any type of travel expense, from flights to hotels to rental cars!
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best ways to earn Chase points, as well as how to redeem them for great travel perks. (more…)
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!
If you’re renting internationally, the supplemental insurance that the credit card offers usually becomes primary insurance, and so once again, you’ll be covered.
2. Say no to the GPS
You don’t have to turn the clock back to the 20th century and use only a map and the stars, but don’t get the GPS the rental company offers. If you’re renting in the US, simply use your smartphone’s map function.
This option is also available when renting internationally as well. Instead of a $13 a day GPS, get a new SIM card for your phone (make sure your phone is unlocked first).
In most countries, $15 will get you data plan large enough to use the map for a few days and also be able to answer email and check Facebook!
3. Fill up where it’s cheapest
A no brainer. But oftentimes, especially when traveling between countries, you aren’t aware of the difference in gas prices, which can be dramatic. Do your homework ahead of time.
In Spain, the gas prices hovered around $7.50 a gallon. Insane, right?
That’s what I thought until I got to Portugal, where I was paying $8.50 a gallon!
I was cursing myself for not filling up at the border and determined to not make that mistake again. I put in just enough to roll out of Portugal on fumes and fill up at it’s much cheaper Iberian neighbor!
4. Use Rentalcars.com or Kayak as a starting point but always check the actual rental car websites.
Using Rentalcars.com or Kayak or any other search engine is a great way to find out a decent range of what you should pay for a rental car. However, always make sure to actually check the rental car companies websites as well.
On my last trip, rentalcars.com wanted 192 euros for a 10 day rental from Europcar. When I went to Europcar’s actual site, the same rental priced out at 150 euros, a whopping 25% less.
A few minutes of work can save you a nice chunk of change, especially on long rentals.
5. Avoid airport pickup
It’s not always the most convenient, but if you can avoid picking up the car at the airport location, you can save some big money.
Most rental car companies will place a charge on to your rental for picking it up at the airport, sometimes up to $30.
Instead, save those shekels and head to a secondary location to pick up the car. If you’re in a big city, there should be plenty of options and they should be located conveniently around public transport.
Hop on the metro, get away from the airport, spend the extra money on a nice lunch, and then pick up your car.
6. Always return the car full
Fill ‘er up!
This has to be one of the biggest scams out there, right up there with the Nigerians princes offering you millions for your bank account information.
The rental car companies will charge you 2x or 3x more than the gas station for a gallon of gas, so if you don’t return the car full, you’ll be paying HUGE amounts to have them fill it.
Also, never agree to pre-pay for gas. You’ll be charged upfront for a full tank of gas and unless you return it completely empty, you’re losing money.
Instead, simply opt for the “return on full” option…and then make sure it’s full!
7. Earn bonus frequent flyer miles for your rental
Before renting, always make sure to check the Frequent Flyer Bonuses website to see what type of bonuses are being offered by each car rental company.
All you’ll have to do to get the bonus(es) is give them your frequent flyer number when renting the car and it should post automatically.
Who doesn’t love free miles!
8. Grab a discount code
Rental car companies are always offering special discounts for all types of things, from business rentals to AARP members.
A simple Google search of “(Your Car Rental Company) discount code” will return a ton of hits. Look through the first few sites and see what type of codes there are. Then, use those codes to get up to 50% off your rental!
9. Use hotel status to score perks
Oftentimes, if you have status with a hotel chain or two, you can score some perks with the rental car companies as well. For example, my Gold Status with Hilton earns me a 25% discount with most major car rental companies.
Hotel status can also earn you perks like free upgrades or a free GPS rental (while I don’t recommend paying for GPS, if it’s free, take it!).
These extra perks MAY be stackable with promotions offered by discount codes, meaning you’d be able to use your status to get the perks AND use the discount code you found online. Call the company up to make sure.
If they aren’t stackable, simply choose the one that is the best offer.
10. Don’t speed
As someone who has racked up speeding tickets in multiple countries, do as I say and not as I do.
There’s nothing worse than opening an envelope from the Victoria state police four months after your vacation has ended and being hit with a couple hundred dollar speeding ticket.
Of course, if you aren’t planning on returning to that destination for awhile, and the statue of limitations might be over by then, and you have a significant other who could rent the car in their name next time, then…maybe speeding isn’t so expensive after all.
As long as you do a little bit of homework, renting a car should never cost you an arm and a leg. Just denying the insurance they push on you can save you a huge amount of money.
Couple that with using your own GPS, scoring a discount code or two, and quickly checking multiple websites for the best price and you’re staring down some big savings.
And always remember, return the car on full!
What tips do you have to save money on car rentals? Do you have a memorable car rental experience? Share them below!
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!
If that was the case, then I probably wouldn’t be writing this post, right?
In fact, there are a few other ways to earn large amounts of UR points AFTER you get your credit card sign up bonus. Today, I’m going to teach you about the most under appreciated and overlooked way to earn Chase UR points.
In fact, I’m continually stunned that 90% of people fail use this method that I use to earn TENS OF THOUSANDS of Ultimate Rewards points every year. Yes, TENS OF THOUSANDS!
That’s like getting a free roundtrip ticket to Europe every year!
Ready for it?
Before you think “I don’t know how to do that” or “eh, that’s too hard and complicated” and close this window, hear me out for one minute.
Truth: I ABSOLUTELY HATE SHOPPING (my wife enjoys it enough for the both of us).
As much as I love frequent flyer miles, I hate shopping equally as much (want proof? I’m currently wearing my high school’s tennis t-shirt that I got as a senior…12 years ago!)
If this was hard or difficult in the slightest way, I wouldn’t do it.
So if I do it, you know it must be a cinch!
And, it gets even better. To make things even easier for you, I’ve created a video (only 3 minutes) to show you EXACTLY how to use the best online shopping portal of them all, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall!
How the Online Shopping Portal Works
No pushing around a too-full cart when shopping online!
Every time you shop through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, you’ll be earning Chase UR points. The reason this can be so lucrative is because many merchants will offer bonuses (sometimes really big ones) for you to shop at their store if you route through the Ultimate Rewards Mall first.
Let’s look at J. Crew (Heather’s favorite store) as an example:
If you go directly to J. Crew’s website, either through Google or by typing in jcrew.com, you’ll only receive 1 Chase UR point if you use a Chase credit card (such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred orInk Plus), exactly the same way you would if you went to the store.
However, if you take the 2 minutes or less to sign in to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and THEN redirect to J. Crew’s website (which is exactly the same one you would have went to if you went to it directly), they will offer you bonus UR points for each dollar you spend. Currently, the bonus is 5x at J. Crew.
So, in addition to the regular 1 UR points you’ll get for using your Chase credit card for shopping, you’ll get an ADDITIONAL 5 UR points for every $1 you spend.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that by routing through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, that $200 you spend will earn you 1,200 UR points instead of a measly 200. And it only takes an extra 2 minutes (max) to sign in to the UR Mall and then redirect to your favorite store!
1,000 points for 2 minutes? If you’re time is that valuable, what are you doing wasting time reading my blog!
I could give you example after example of times I’ve used the Ultimate Rewards Mall to score big points, but I’ll just leave you with the one that got me to go all-in on using shopping portals (a decision that has earned me tens of thousands of points).
A Personal Example (or How the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall Gave Me a Very Merry Christmas)
Rewind to pre-Christmas, 2011. My siblings and I wanted to get my parents something special and so my sister suggested a hot air balloon ride. We all thought that was great, so she started searching around and found one on Groupon for $300.
Luckily, I had just gotten an email about Groupon offering 30x Chase UR points for every $1 spent. I checked it twice to make sure I read it correctly.
Yep, 30 Chase UR points for every $1! Un freaking believable!
I called my sister immediately (not an easy thing to do when your in Australia and she’s in America) and walked her through exactly how to purchase the balloon ride through the Chase UR mall (luckily for you, I’ve created a video that will explain it much quicker)!
Just like that, I was 9,000 Chase points richer!
From that day, I was a convert, and I haven’t looked back since!
I’ve never lead you astray before, have I? Take 3 minutes, check out the video, and start watching those UR points pour in in droves!
If you’re gung-ho about online shopping (and you should be!), check out my partner post, which also has a 3 minute video.
It explains how to use Evreward, an awesome website that shows you which online shopping portal gives you the best deal for every store you can think of! It’s not always the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, so learn to use this tool!
Of course, if you have any questions I don’t answer here, feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly.
If you’re serious about earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, don’t rely solely on signup bonuses. If you aren’t using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall for buying products, especially large ticket items like a computer, tv, etc. than you are leaving THOUSANDS of points on the table.
Even if you’re a complete newbie to online shopping, I implore you to give it a shot. Try buying one item and see how it goes. At the very least, you won’t have to drive to the store, and you’ll be earning extra points for sitting on your butt!
What are you feelings on online shopping? If you’re a convert, share the reasons why. Did you have an “A-HA” moment like I did with the hot air balloon ride? If you haven’t committed yet, what reservations do you have? Share, share, share below folks!