Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
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!
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 Plus
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.
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
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.
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).
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
Folks with 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Citi Prestige perks don’t stop once you land at your destination!
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, 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.