Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
The Southwest 50,000 point credit card deal is still alive. This is one of the best deals for domestic US flights (if you’re not a first class snob), since you get $833 worth of flights!
I applied and was approved for the business version (after calling the reconsideration line). I got the Southwest personal card in July, so between the personal and business card sign-on bonuses and a few hotel point transfers to Southwest, I will earn 110,000 Southwest points this year and will most likely qualify for the companion pass which will let Emily fly with me for free in 2012!
Emily: Woo hoo!
The companion pass is one of the best travel perks available since your companion can fly with you for free on both paid and award flights. Deals We Like actually has a companion pass, and has written a post on it.
A lot of readers have written in asking whether it is better to activate the card in 2011 or if they should activate the card in 2012.
The theory is that by activating the cards in January 2012 (and earning 110,000 Southwest points), you will be able to use the companion pass until December 2013.
But if you qualify for the companion pass by December 2011, it will be valid only until December 2012. That’s because the terms for the Southwest Companion pass say:
“A Companion Pass Member will maintain his/her Companion Pass for the remainder of the calendar year in which status is earned, and the entire calendar year immediately following.”
Companion Pass in 2011
The 50,000 point bonus for the Southwest credit card, which I applied for, in August 2011 did count towards the 110,000 points needed to earn the Southwest companion pass.
However, we don’t know if the bonus from the current Southwest offer will count towards the companion pass. Southwest could have fixed the programing glitch which allowed the 50,000 point bonus to count towards the companion pass.
Southwest prides itself on being the low cost airline and I suspect that Southwest didn’t plan to give away free companion passes (and a year or more of free flying) just by applying for 2 Chase credit cards!
That said, I am optimistic that the credit card bonus from the current Southwest credit card offer will count towards companion pass status. I don’t have any inside information, but it does take a few months for big companies to implement non-critical IT fixes such as coding the credit card sign-up bonus to NOT count towards companion pass status.
Companion Pass in 2012
Some folks plan on activating their Southwest cards in January 2012 so that they can get the companion pass not only for 2012, but up to the end of 2013.
That’s because the Southwest terms say:
“Beginning January 1, 2012, the Member must complete 100 qualifying one-way flights or accrue 110,000 Qualifying Points by December 31, 2012, and upon doing so, the Companion Pass will be extended to December 31, 2013.)“
However, this is NOT a slam dunk! You could get a companion pass for 2 years, but you also could very well could get nothing.
KateFromCA summarized it the best in her comment (bolding mine & Rapid Reward 1 refers to the old Southwest award program and Rapid Rewards 2 refers to the new award program):
Re. Companion Pass: the rules for Rapid Rewards 2.0 state that bonus points do not count towards Companion Pass qualification – from the Terms & Conditions:
“Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and Partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status.”
Now, no one knows if this will actually be enforced in 2012. But, everyone knows that this year, the bonuses do count since this year (2011) is a transition year from Rapid Rewards 1.0 to Rapid Rewards 2.0 and the less restrictive rules (Rapid Rewards 1.0 in this case) apply. Many people got their Companion Pass through these offers.
So, push your earning of 110,000 points to the next year at your own risk: you may get an (almost) 2-year Companion Pass as it is valid from the time it is earned until the end the following year, or you may get no Companion Pass at all…
The Chase Southwest credit cards make it easier to earn a Southwest companion pass, because as of August/September 2011, the 50,000 sign-on bonus counted towards companion pass status.
But we don’t have any information on whether the current 50,000 point sign-up bonus will count towards the companion status. And if the 50,000 point bonus counts towards companion status in November or December 2011, we don’t know for sure if it will count in January next year.
I suspect that this glitch will be fixed, but hopefully after we’ve all qualified for the companion pass!
What’s your strategy for the Southwest companion pass?