Reader Question: Whoa! Southwest Says the 50,000 Point Bonus Does NOT Count Towards The Southwest Companion Pass.

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Million Mile Secrets reader Mike comments:

I have called [Southwest Airlines] SWA 5 times to ask if the 50,000 [points] apply toward the companion pass.  2 agents said yes, 3 others, however, said they are bonus points and DO NOT count.  Any insight?

Southwest Companion Pass

The 50,000 Point Sign-up Bonus Counted Towards Our Companion Pass!

What Is The Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best ways to save money on airline tickets for travel within the US.

Why?  Because it lets a companion fly with you for free whenever you fly on Southwest.  And it doesn’t matter if you pay for your flight with points or cash – your companion flies free (~$10 in taxes and fees) either way!

You have to earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points within 1 calendar year (January 1 to December 31st) to get the Companion Pass.

Currently, the 50,000 point bonus from the Southwest credit cards are counting towards the companion pass (although this could change at any time).

All 4 versions of the Southwest credit cards currently offer 50,000 Southwest points after spending $2,000 within 3 months – until October 30, 2013.  Mike can redeem 50,000 Southwest points for ~ $710 to $850 in Southwest flights or for ~$500 in gift cards.

Southwest Companion Pass

50,000 Point Signup Bonus Ends on October 30, 2013

2 Southwest credit cards and 10,000 extra points can get Mike ~$2,840 to $3,400 in Southwest travel and a Southwest Companion pass so that his companion can fly free (pay ~ $10 taxes and fees) for up to two years!

Here are 10 other ways to earn points for the Southwest Companion Pass after you get the 50,000 point sign-up bonus.

Yes, But Does the Sign-up Bonus Count?

The 50,000 point signup bonus has counted towards the Southwest Companion Pass for me as well as for other readers, and still currently counts towards the Companion Pass.  However, the terms say that “partner bonuses” do not count towards the Companion Pass.

Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status. 

Readers often ask if the credit card sign-up bonus is considered a “partner bonus.”

By “partner bonuses,” I suspect that Southwest is referring to bonus points earned with their partners which are above the minimum amount of points you would usually earn.

For example, you usually earn 600 Southwest points for staying at a partner hotel and crediting the points earned from the stay to Southwest.  These 600 points usually count towards the Companion Pass.

Currently, Southwest is offering a 300 point bonus which means that you can get 900 points for staying in a partner hotel.

Southwest Companion Pass

The 300 Point Partner Bonus Will Not Count Towards the Companion Pass

This extra 300 points is a “partner bonus” and won’t count towards the Companion Pass.

I’m sure there will eventually come a time when the sign-up bonus does not count towards the Companion Pass, but for now, it does count!

But…

The terms also say:

Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights, points issued on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.

This makes it clear that points earned from spending on your Southwest credit card do count towards the Southwest Companion Pass.  And it is broad enough to include the 50,000 point sign-up bonus.

After all, the 50,000 bonus points are points issued on the Southwest Airlines credit card!

Southwest Companion Pass

Points Issued On Southwest Airlines Credit Cards Count Towards the Companion Pass

But even if the points don’t count towards the Companion Pass, Mike can still redeem them for regular flights on Southwest.  50,000 points will get you ~$833 worth of flights if redeemed before March 31, 2014 and ~$714 worth of flights redeemed after March 31, 2014.

Bottom Line

The Southwest Companion Pass is the best deal for travel within the US.  Now’s the best time to apply for any of the Southwest credit cards because all 4 versions offer a 50,000 point sign-up bonus which currently counts towards the Companion Pass.

And if Mike earns the companion pass in 2014 (see this post on how to time it right!), it is valid until the end of 2015.

The current terms and conditions are ambiguous, so you can argue for and against the 50,000 point credit card sign-up bonus counting towards the Companion Pass

But for now – in practice – the points from the signup bonus still count towards earning the Companion Pass!

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47 Responses to Reader Question: Whoa! Southwest Says the 50,000 Point Bonus Does NOT Count Towards The Southwest Companion Pass.

  1. *facepalm*

    I seriously hope you respond to these kind of inquiries with a gentle but clear request that people stop drawing attention to loopholes by calling…let alone calling five times. Next up, people start repeatedly calling airlines to ask if mistake fares are correct…

  2. What Gbert said. Seriously, this is certainly one of the do not call situations, dear questioner, so STOP. Read the experiences of so many others and trust it.

  3. Triple for what facepalm says. NEVER EVER EVER CALL THE JOHN!!! Time to rewrite How to Earn Miles 101 and place that in bold.

  4. I must agree with what the others are saying. There IS ambiguity, the typical agent is not going to have a definite answer, and all that repeated calls can do is draw more attention to the issue within the organization. I can understand a newbie reader’s wanting to know for sure, as he develops a potential strategy for earning a companion pass, but there are some things that we really don’t know for sure, and there are some good things that happen that may be unclear in or counter to published terms, and we really don’t want favorable loopholes closed. It would be best for bloggers to be upfront about any ambiguities and to advise clearly against multiple phone calls to the company to try to get definitive answers regarding them.

  5. Sorry fellas, I have to disagree here. The poor guy is just trying to figure out the truth of the matter and he can’t think of any other way to do it. Either the bonus counts towards the companion pass or it doesn’t. It isn’t about loopholes or mistake fares, he wants to know if he should bother to get the credit card.

    I will say that the two cards made up most of my “companion pass” miles.

  6. You’re such a shameless shill Daraius. And you stole this Sunday reader question feature from TPG.

  7. @gbert @CJ @Mike h @DaveS – To be VERY clear, this is not a mistake fare, but has been going on for years. Southwest knows about this and is fine with letting the points count towards the companion pass – likely because you will purchase more Southwest tickets and fly almost exclusively on Southwest once you have the pass.

  8. WN doesn’t count bonuses toward the CP when they know it’s a bonus. However they only know points are a bonus when they award them themselves on any sort of WN promo. Points transferred to WN from a hotel or car rental program may also contain bonus points WN can’t distinguish.

  9. Hi MMS. If I had the plus personal card and cancelled a few months ago, can I still be eligible by applying for the premier personal and business? Would I need a new SW RR#? I did get 50k bonus on the plus personal years ago when I had opened initially. I have heard that maybe a new RR acct is needed to get the repeat bonus. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  10. @Anne, the problem with this theory is that there are risk in this game. If you are not at least a mild risk taker it is probably best to avoid playing but don’t ruin it for everybody else.

  11. I usually don’t like the readers that hate on the newbie but on this I must agree with the majority! Don’t draw attention to the loophole! Check with unofficial sources like this site or email Daraius before calling SW 5 times. Let’s not forget that worst case scenario is you end up with 110,000 points with no companion pass– this is still well worth the number of free flights one would get!!!’

  12. People shouldn’t be so mean to those who want to know the truth. However, this is a sign bonus game that we all play. You read your information ask questions and make your decision. There’s a risk to anything changing at anytime. That can’t be stopped. I agree that the worst case scenario is you have 110,000 point to use towards flight. Sometimes, You can’t win it all.

  13. Jeffrey Kostbar

    I agree…….you should not call the airline or any other company and point out loopholes or spots in their programs where people like to take advantage. While SW clearly knows about this situation and wants to let it continue, that is fine. Don’t draw attention to the situation.

  14. I can confirm that the bonus counts towards the companion pass. I earned mine today. I realize you should time it better but you never know when this will be shut down. So I decided to get it now.

    FWIW: I applied for the regular personal card in June and then I applied for the Premium personal card in September. I received the bonus for both and now I have the pass.

  15. @Steven – if he’s a shill, then so is TPG and all the others. You know how this game is played…quit whining and go back to your little cave on FT…

    And NEVER CALL THE AIRLINE!!!

  16. Darius..I hope i’m wrong but the in the fine print that you highlighted in red clearly states that the enrollment bonuses for the cards DO NOT COUNT towards the companion pass. So why do you continue to say that it does?

  17. Reading this at the Admiral’s Club in Miami and shaking my head. Doesn’t this idiot know not to ever call for something like this? Don’t ruin it for everyone Magic Mike!

  18. Wow Mike, wow. 5 times!? Lol

  19. Sign up bonuses still counts toward earning a companion pass. I know because I recently qualified after getting both business and personal cards. After reading a post on Million Miles Secret’s about the companion pass I decided to try for the cards.

    Go for it…you’ll be fine. It’s wonderful to earn 110,000 points just by getting these two cards and spending a few bucks. Then to top it off, you get a companion pass! It has definitely proven to be a wise decision for me.

  20. Please don’t call! When you read this blog and others, they tell you that the bonus miles will count, along with many others verifying it. If you don’t trust their word, then please don’t play this game.

  21. MMS,

    Usually I do support you. But think logical, just by qualifying for two cards doesn’t even cost a cent to earn 100k qualifying miles towards companion pass, can any airline award companion pass (free ticket + free ticket)? Any school going kid can understand.
    Do you remember your Home Improvement Card experience?

  22. I have had the Southwest Premier card for quite a while, just applied for the Southwest Plus (want me to call ASAP) and Southwest Plus Business (pending, will let me know within 30 days). What’s a good reason for wanting Plus when I already have the Premier? Should I call to tell them why I need the business card. Don’t want to wait 30 days and then get approved without 50,000 bonus.

  23. Hi Daraius, any indications if the bonuses will come back in Nov/Dec? I was planning to apply towards the end of the year and complete spend in Jan.

  24. @HslnAz I think it is more likely it’ll come back in February.

  25. Seriously, this guy is not going to single handedly bring down the whole Southwest Companion pass set up because he couldn’t make a decision and called them a bunch of times.

    Of course he needs to figure it out one way or another, but they get thousands and thousands of calls per day. Do you honestly think there is some conference room where the executives are sitting around in their three piece suits and saying, “Joe Smith called FIVE TIMES about whether or not the sign up bonus counted towards the companion pass? Maybe we’re being too generous here.” ?

    Lots of thought and planning and marketing goes into these schemes to capture our travel dollars. When it isn’t profitable enough for them, they’ll make changes.

    Let’s stop blaming this poor, over anxious guy for alerting SW to what they already know.

  26. @Corridor! – Thanks for confirming!

    @barry @sat – Because it counted for me and earned me the Companion Pass you see pictured in the post!

    @Anne – Exactly! It isn’t like Southwest doesn’t know about this.

  27. MMS,

    Exactly, same way I have earned by reading your blog…I guess may be few Southwest representatives are happy to get this way…but when it caught attention of wrong one, this can be escalated easily
    and Southwest is not a kind of airline which need these generous offers to make money out of passengers…
    If you notice, most of flights are almost full everyday…that means they are literally losing 3300+ with this ….
    and ppl who got CP this way, they usually cancel in two years…if they realize……all of us in soup…

  28. @Mike tell them you want to replace the $99/year premier card with the plus version because it has a lower annual fee of $69.

  29. Not sure if anyone has already mentioned it but you can see exactly which of your points count towards a companion pass by using the Rewards Activity details page in your Southwest account. Choose “current year to date” and “companion pass qualifying points” and it lists all the points that qualify toward a companion pass. You can copy and paste this information into an Excel spreadsheet and do an auto sum on the points column to see what your total is.

  30. Can someone connect their premiere card application with a Rapid Rewards account that doesn’t belong to them? For example, can my wife apply for a card but have the points connected to the RR account that is in my name? Or must the name on card match the name on RR account?

  31. This is some interesting verbiage in the T&C’s:

    “Companion Pass status is based on taking 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year. A qualifying flight for Rapid Rewards Companion Pass status is a one-way revenue flight booked through Southwest Airlines from an origin city to a destination city, including any intermediate stops and/or connections booked through Southwest Airlines. Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights, points issued on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and Partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status.

    The question is whether the credit card bonus is considered as ‘points earned from program enrollment’ or something else?

  32. Worked for me…I have the Companion Pass thru 2014! Got mine early this year!

  33. It does work. But please don’t call the airlines. :-) If a lot of people call it can draw attention to people getting the comp. pass with CCs and it might stop working. It’s a great deal. Let’s be careful not to mess it up!

  34. I currently have the pass through Dec 2014. What my greedy self is starting to wonder is what do I need to do to regain it in 2015. Churning SWA cards won’t be an option. Dare I convert 200k Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, Hyatt then to SWA which would be 100k RRs… plus some spend to make up the difference. Ugg. Of my best churns / redemptions, I use and love the Comp Pass thee most!

  35. Pingback: The Best Deal for US Travel (~ $710 to $850 in Flights Or ~ $500 in Gift Cards) Ends Tomorrow! | Million Mile Secrets

  36. Isn’t Program Enrollment when you first join RR? I believe they give you 750 points for signing up. Maybe those don’t count towards the Pass.

  37. I definitely agree it might be a good idea to put a disclaimer in your posts for people not to call and ask about it. It has been pretty clear that this sort of thing has killed deals in the past. I understand that SW knows that currently the points are applying this way, but they have also left themselves an out in the T&C’s to stop this at any time and I hate to see us providing them with any further motivation. I’m not one of the people who believes that we should keep all these deals to ourselves and that you shouldn’t blog about them, but if the current sign-up bonus on the SWA cc’s aren’t enough to motivate him to apply and he is that nervous about whether or the bonus will be CPQP, then maybe this isn’t the right game for him. There’s always going to be a lot of uncertainty and some risk to “travel hacking” and calling repeatedly and bugging agents about one of these deals will at the very least not improve it’s odds of longevity.

  38. @Mike W I do completely agree with you.

  39. This reader Mike should be lynched for calling SW 5 times when the answer to his question is everywhere on the web. Even if SW know about this, and they probably do, we don’t need to bring up to them every time. It’ll def raise doubts in their mind that they are too generous. It’s a very unnecessary risk and we do NOT need added risk in this game. I hope Mike will be banned from the mile & point world for being too lazy to search around.

  40. Pingback: Southwest 50,000 Point Card | Million Mile Secrets

  41. Pingback: Blog Giveaway: 20,000 Southwest Points | Million Mile Secrets

  42. Matthew Quandt

    @MillionMileSecrets – looks like Southwest has clarified their language! http://bit.ly/Lg4b5b (shortened link for SW FAQs) now states “Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights, points issued on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and Partner bonuses (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not count toward Companion Pass status.” We’re in the clear…

  43. Pingback: Southwest 50,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus *Officially* Counts Towards Southwest Companion Pass! | Million Mile Secrets

  44. I just saw that same line in the FAQ for the CP rules too. But my RR points summary does not reflect the 50k bonus towards my CP level. So for me at least, it did not work.

  45. Just check my SW Rapid Rewards Balance. I have received my bonus for my personal card, but no bonus for my business card. Business points posted on 8 Jan 14 (no Bonus) and Personal points posted on 10 Jan 14 (with 50K bonus). Have others experienced the same issue?

  46. Ken B,

    I have two personal cards – premium and plus. I received the 50k bonus points for the premium card (Jan 12th), but not the plus card (Jan 20th):( Did you try calling them? Any suggestions from anybody?

    BTW, the bonus points did apply towards the companion pass.

  47. @Ken B
    @Abe
    The 50K will not post if you met the minimum spend too close to the closing date. If this is the case, then the 50K will show up after the close of your next statement close date.

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