Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Readers have emailed and commented asking how to time their minimum spending on the Chase Southwest cards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
That’s because when you time it right, your Companion Pass is valid for nearly 2 years instead of one!
The Companion Pass is the best deal in domestic travel! Because your designated companion flies for nearly free with you on all your paid and award flights on Southwest.
The key to earning the required 110,000 points for the Companion Pass are the Southwest credit cards. And for a limited time, the sign-up bonuses on all 4 cards have been increased to 50,000 points.
Depending on how many Southwest points you’ve already earned in 2014, you’ll want to meet the minimum spending requirements on those cards at different times to make the most of this deal.
Companion Pass Planning
Ideally, you’d want to earn your Companion Pass as early in the year as possible. That’s because it’s valid in the year you earn it AND the following year.
To do that, you’d:
1. Apply for 2 Southwest Cards
Apply for 2 Southwest cards when they are offering 50,000 point bonuses (most likely 1 personal and 1 business card).
2. Meet Minimum Spending Requirements
Then, meet the combined $4,000 minimum spending after your statement closes in December or January to be safer.
3. Earn the Last 6,000 Points Required
Finally, you’d also get the last 6,000 Southwest points you need in January (or as close as possible.)
Your Companion Pass will be activated and your companion will fly for nearly free with you for all of this year AND next year.
Folks who are NOT as concerned with getting every possible month out of the Companion Pass but would rather have it NOW, only need to be focus on earning 110,000 Companion Pass points in a single calendar year (January through December).
Now let’s go over the basics along with some very important details about when points post to your account.
Southwest Companion Pass Basics
Link: Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is by far the best deal for domestic travel, because your companion flies with you for almost free on both paid and award tickets.
And now is a great time to think about earning the Companion Pass, because all 4 Chase Southwest cards currently have an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the 1st 3 months.
Let’s review some key points about earning the Companion Pass!
1. 110,000 Points in a Calendar Year
To get the Companion Pass, you have to earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year. Companion pass qualifying points include:
- Points earned from flying on Southwest
- Points earned from the sign-up bonus and spending on Chase Southwest cards
- Points transferred from certain hotel chains (like Hyatt or Choice Hotels)
- Points earned from the Southwest Shopping Portal
You will NOT get credit for Southwest points you get from:
- Transferring points directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Receiving points from other people (as a transfer or gift)
- Buying points for yourself
You’ll earn the Companion Pass as soon as your account has earned 110,000 points for the calendar year (January 2015 through December 2015). Points you earned in previous years do NOT count!
Note: You CAN redeem the Southwest points in your account before you earn the Companion Pass. They’ll still count even if you spend them!
2. When Do Credit Card Points Post to Your Southwest Account?
In my experience, the sign-up bonus from the Chase Southwest credit cards usually posts to your account a few days after the statement in which you complete the minimum spending closes (provided you completed the minimum spending 8 to 10 days before the statement closing date).
And be sure to complete your spending ~5 to 10 days before your statement closes. That’s because you want any pending transactions to clear.
Note: If your statement closing date is towards the end of the month, you might consider calling Chase to ask them to change it to earlier in the month.
The 1st statement date is usually not accurate online! So please call Chase to confirm when exactly your 1st statement will really close. Note that this is NOT the payment due date, but the statement close or generation date.
For example, if your statement closing date is December 28, 2014, the points might not post to your account until January 2015. We’ll see why this could be important later!
3. Companion Pass Validity
Once you’ve gotten the Southwest Companion Pass, it’s valid until December 31 the year after you earned it.
So if you earn the Companion Pass in December 2014, it will be valid until December 31, 2015 (~1 year).
But if you earn the Companion Pass in January 2015 (just 1 month later), you’ll be able to use it until December 31, 2016 (almost 2 years!).
With these points in mind, let’s look at a couple of examples to see how best to time the minimum spending to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
Scenario 1: Few or No Southwest Points Earned in 2014
If you didn’t earn many Southwest points in 2014 (or none at all), it’s best to apply for 2 Southwest credit cards toward the end of the year, such as in November or December (1 personal, 1 business). Then, time the minimum spending so that the sign-up bonus posts to your Southwest account in January 2015.
That way, you’ll earn 104,000 Companion Pass qualifying points (100,000 sign-up bonus from 2 cards plus 4,000 points from minimum spending) early in the New Year.
You can then take your time (if you wish) earning the remaining 6,000 points needed for the Companion Pass. And your pass will be valid until the end of 2016!
So to make sure the sign-up bonus posts to your Southwest account in early 2015, do NOT complete the minimum spending requirement until AFTER your December 2014 statement closes.
For example, suppose your Chase Southwest card statement closes on December 10, 2014. You should NOT complete the minimum spending requirement until after that date.
That way, the points will post to your Southwest account after your January statement closes (some time after January 10, 2015). And your Companion Pass will be valid until December 31, 2016.
Note: It’s best to wait until after your December statement closes to do most (or all) of the minimum spending on the card. That way, the points earned from your purchases will also post in 2015.
This might be a good reason to call Chase and move your statement closing date to early in the month. That way, you can still use the card for holiday shopping and have the points from those purchases count toward the Companion Pass!
Scenario 2: Southwest Points Already Earned in 2014
If you’ve already earned a substantial number of Southwest points this year, you might consider earning the Companion Pass before the end of 2014. But you’ll have to hustle! Seriously, it may already be too late for this option!
Suppose you’ve already earned 50,000 points this year. You’d need another 60,000 points to earn the Companion Pass in 2014.
You could apply for ONE Southwest credit card now to earn the 50,000 point sign-up bonus (plus another 2,000 points from meeting minimum spending). But you’ll have to make sure the points post to your Southwest account before December 31, 2014.
And you’d also have to earn any additional points needed to bring your 2014 qualifying point balance to 110,000 total.
So you’d have to meet the spending requirement before your December 2014 statement closes. Any points earned after that won’t post until January 2015!
But what if your statement closing date is near the end of the month? There’s a risk that the points might not post to your Southwest account until the beginning of January. And then you wouldn’t earn the Companion Pass (at least not for 2014).
To solve this problem, you could:
- Call Chase and ask that your statement closing date be moved earlier in the month
- Complete the minimum spending before your November 2014 statement closes (very soon!)
Earning the Companion Pass this late in 2014 isn’t the best option, because you’ll only be able to use it for a year (until the end of 2015). But for folks who’ve already earned a lot of Southwest points this year, it could make sense to apply for 1 credit card and go for it.
The best way to make the most of the Companion Pass is to apply for 2 Southwest cards late in the year. Right now, all 4 versions of the card have an increased 50,000 point sign-up bonus after you spend $2,000 in the 1st 3 months.
Then complete the minimum spending after your December statement closes, so that the bonus points post to your account in January.
This way, you’ll earn the Companion Pass early in 2015. And your companion will fly with you for nearly free for all of 2015 and 2016!
If you’d rather get the pass right away, you have until the end of 2014 to earn 110,000 Southwest points. That’s because to earn the Companion Pass, you need 110,000 points in a calendar year (January to December).
I’d rather wait until early 2015 to earn the Companion Pass. That way, your companion can fly with you almost free for ~2 years.