6 Cards That Boost the Value of Your Southwest Companion Pass

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Now that all 3 Southwest credit cards have increased sign-up bonuses, it’s a great time to consider qualifying for the Southwest Companion Pass!

With the Southwest Companion Pass, you companion flies with you for almost free on paid and award tickets!

And if you have certain other cards, your Southwest Companion Pass can be even more valuable.

That’s because some cards offer reimbursement for airline fees (including Southwest gift cards) or paid airfare!

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

With the Right Cards, You Can Earn Even More Free Travel From the Southwest Companion Pass!

I’ll show you how to make the most of the best deal in domestic travel by using these cards when you book Southwest tickets!

What’s the Deal?

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Personal)

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Small Business)

Link:   Chase Southwest Plus 

For a limited time, you’ll earn 50,000 Southwest points after completing minimum spending requirements on the Chase Southwest Premier (Personal) and Chase Southwest Premier (Small Business) cards.

And read my post on how to get a better 40,000 Southwest point offer for the Chase Southwest Plus card.

Folks who earn the sign-up bonus from 2 cards get almost enough points for the Southwest Companion Pass.  To qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll need to earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year.

Remember, you’ll also earn Southwest points from meeting the minimum spending requirements on these cards.  And there are lots of ways to make up the rest of the points (no need to spend $10,000!)

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

Two Southwest 50,000 Point Cards Get You Most of the Way to Big Travel With the Southwest Companion Pass

Once you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass, your companion can fly with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets.

That’s already a fantastic deal!  But you can make it go further if you pay for your Southwest travel with cards that reimburse airline fees or tickets.

1 ,2, & 3.   Three Different American Express Platinum Cards

Link:   The Platinum Card From American Express

Link:   The Business Platinum Card From American Express OPEN

Link:   American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum

Link:   My Review of The Platinum Card From American Express

Link:   My Review of The Business Platinum Card From American Express OPEN

Link:   My Review of the American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum

If you have The Platinum Card From American Express, The Business Platinum Card From American Express OPEN, or the American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum card, you’ll earn up to $200 in airline incidental fee statement credits per calendar year.

But you have to select ONE airline, which you can change once each year in January.

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

Stretch Your Companion Pass Further by Purchasing Southwest Gift Cards With Your AMEX Platinum Card, Then Get Reimbursed up to $200 per Calendar Year!

The airline fee credit does NOT apply to paid airfare.  But folks get around this restriction by purchasing Southwest gift cards in smaller (usually $100 or less) denominations.  Then use the gift cards toward paid airfare or taxes and fees on Southwest award tickets!

Note:   You must purchase the gift cards directly from Southwest.  It won’t work if you buy Southwest gift cards at supermarkets or office supply stores (because it won’t code as an airline purchase).

Folks on FlyerTalk report success in having their Southwest gift card purchases reimbursed.  Some also say they’ve been credited for Early Bird Check-In fees.

That said, for about a month, folks reported delays in having their airline expenses reimbursed by AMEX.  According to Doctor of Credit, that issue has been resolved.

Combining the airline fee reimbursement from the AMEX Platinum cards with the Southwest Companion Pass is a terrific way to make the most of these deals!

4.   American Express Premier Rewards Gold

Link:   The Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express

Link:   My Review of the Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express

Folks with The Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express also get up to $100 in airline incidental fee credits each calendar year.

Like the AMEX Platinum cards, you have to select an airline each year.  And paid airfare does NOT qualify for the credit.

However, cardholders on FlyerTalk report they’ve also been reimbursed for Southwest gift card purchases.

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

Get Away With a Friend for Free With the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold and the Southwest Companion Pass

If you’d rather not go the gift card route, you could use your airline incidental fee credit toward other Southwest charges, like unaccompanied minor fees, pet fees, or in-flight beverage purchases.

Remember, you’ll get 2 checked bags free on Southwest!

5.   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Link:   My Review of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Earlier this summer, Barclaycard updated the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card.  One of the biggest changes was no longer being able to redeem Barclaycard Arrival miles for travel purchases of $25+.

Now, the minimum redemption is for $100+ travel purchases.  So folks who used Barclaycard Arrival miles to earn 2.2% (now 2.1%) back on travel purchases aren’t able to use them for smaller expenses, like taxi cabs or train tickets.

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

Barclaycard Made It Harder to Redeem Arrival Miles, but Using Them for $100+ Airfare Purchases on Southwest Is Still an Option!

But paid airfare of $100 or more on Southwest is a good choice if you’re having trouble redeeming your Barclaycard Arrival miles!

Buying 1 reimbursable ticket with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus gets you a 2nd ticket almost free with the Southwest Companion Pass!

While we’re on the topic, I’ll let you in on a trick with the Arrival Plus card.  Folks who want to buy a Southwest flight UNDER $100 would normally NOT be able to use the Arrival Plus miles to erase the charge because of the $100 minimum rule.

But here’s what you can do:

Buy ANY $100 Southwest flight to anywhere.  Then cancel it with Southwest.  Southwest doesn’t charge a cancellation or change fee, so you’ll keep $100 in Southwest credit.  Now use your $100 Southwest credit to buy the under-$100 flight you really want.

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

There’s a Trick to Using Barclaycard Arrival Miles for Southwest Paid Tickets Under $100!

Your Arrival Plus statement won’t show a return because technically you didn’t return anything.  You purchased Southwest credit instead of a ticket.  So because it’s at least a $100 travel charge, you can erase it with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles!

Note:  It’s best to book a Wanna Get Away fare, which isn’t refundable (but you’ll get the flight credit).  More expensive Anytime and Business Select fares CAN be refunded to your credit card.

Remember, you can also use Barclaycard Arrival miles toward travel expenses like car rentals, limousines, bus tickets, or campgrounds.  As long as the charge is for $100 or more!

6.   Citi Prestige

Link:   Citi Prestige

Link:   My Review of the Citi Prestige

With the Citi Prestige card, you’ll get up to $250 in airline statement credits each calendar year.  Including airfare purchases!

You do NOT have to select an airline.  So it’s easy to use your Citi Prestige card to book paid flights on Southwest and get reimbursed!

With the Companion Pass, it’s like doubling your $250 airline credit!  Use your credit on Southwest, and you’ll get ~$500 worth of Southwest flights.  On other airlines you’ll just get $250 back.

6 Cards That Boost The Value Of Your Southwest Companion Pass

Use Your Citi Prestige for Paid or Award Ticket Fees on Southwest and Get up to $250 Back in Statement Credits Each Year

Citi Prestige perks don’t stop once you land at your destination!

You can also get your 4th night free on paid hotel stays (booked through the Citi Prestige Concierge at 877-288-2484) when you use your Citi Prestige card.

And golfers with the Citi Prestige can get 3 (or more) free rounds of golf per year!  A nice freebie on your next vacation!

Bottom Line

The Southwest Companion Pass is my favorite deal for domestic travel, because your companion flies with you for almost free on paid and award tickets.

It’s easy to earn the Companion Pass right now, because all 3 Southwest cards currently offer increased sign-up bonuses after completing minimum spending requirements.

If you have certain other cards, like The Platinum Card From American Express, The Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express, or the Citi Prestige card, you can stretch the value of your Companion Pass even further.

That’s because these cards offer airline fee statement credits which can be used for Southwest gift cards, or, in the case of the Citi Prestige, paid airfare.  So your Companion Pass doubles the value of those credits!

And if your Southwest charge is $100 or more, consider redeeming Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles to offset the cost!

This is a terrific way to make the most of your Southwest Companion Pass if you’d rather book paid flights, or don’t have enough points for an award ticket.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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8 responses to “6 Cards That Boost the Value of Your Southwest Companion Pass

  1. I can’t believe that you would encourage someone to purchase a flight with Southwest, then cancel it. Seems like your judgment is a bit off.

  2. @ToddC. Nothing wrong with this method. Southwest doesn’t lose anything as they won’t issue you a refund. You’re just getting a credit for future travel. Barclay’s doesn’t lose anything as you still paid $100 to Southwest using their cc. It doesn’t sound like you use Southwest often or understand how they work.

  3. Thank you for the great info! I followed your advice and was able to earn the Southwest companion pass in January (rather than December as I was initially trying to do), so your tips earned me an extra year!

  4. If I may ask a couple of rookie questions. How do I earn a Companion Pass in January? Is this done by opening 2 cards and completing the required spending in December? Meaning the spend points and sign-up/bonus points are credited to my account with the January bill cycle?

  5. A quick question on the companion pass I just qualified for:
    If you purchase early bird check in for the pass holder’s ticket do you also need to purchase it for the designated companion’s ticket ??

  6. Gabe

    I always purchase only one early bird for myself, my companion (my wife), always has been able to be seated beside me. I hold a seat for her and so far we have never encountered a problem. Although we have some times had a problem getting her carry on in the same bin as mine.

  7. I have 6 referral cards for 50K points each for someone to open a Chase Southwest Visa plus account. reply to mehring9@pacbell.net if interested. You need to apply before 2-28-16. Thanks

  8. @fishfam5 You have 3 months to complete the minimum spend requirement for each card. If you want to earn a Companion Pass in January, the statement for the 3rd month must be sent in January, and your spend requirement must be met for that statement, rather than before. If you met the spend requirement by the time your December statement went out, your points would be credited for December and would not count for earning a CP the following year.