Big Spenders: Companion Passes for Big Spending

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Companion Passes via Credit Card Spending

Big Spenders can earn companion passes on Southwest Airlines and British Airways for spending Big Money on their credit card. The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is a true companion pass because it lets your companion travel with you free, for an unlimited amount of flights during the validity of the Companion Pass, on both award and paid tickets.  This is one of my favorite airline perks. The British Airways Travel Together Ticket is valid for only 1 use and you can’t earn more than one Travel Together ticket a year plus you have to pay hefty fuel surcharges.  But it is worth it, in my opinion, if you use the Travel Together ticket for travel on business or first class.

Domestic Companion Pass

Spend $110,000 within a calendar year on the Chase Southwest credit card and earn the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, which lets you fly free with a companion, for up to 2 years.  This is by far the best perk of any airline in my opinion! The Southwest Companion Pass is valid for the entire year in which you earn the 110,000 points necessary to get the Companion Pass, AND for the following year.  This means that you could get a Companion Pass for almost 2 years if you spend $110,000 in January on your Chase Southwest credit card. Each Southwest Airline point is worth 1.67 cents when redeemed for Wanna Get Away flights, so spending $110,000 a year earns you $1,837 (110,000 points X 1.67 cents per point) worth of Wanna Get Away flights. But if your companion flies with you for free, you’ve effectively earned twice that or at least $3,674 ( 1,837  X 2). That’s a return of 3.34% ($3,674/$110,000) per $1 spent, which is much better than the return on cash back cards for domestic US flying. And if you buy a Southwest ticket and fly a companion for free with your Southwest Companion Pass, your return will likely be higher. Currently, the 50,000 point sign-up bonus on the Chase Southwest credit card counts towards the points needed for the Companion pass, but I don’t know how much longer this will last.

International Companion Pass

 Spend $30,000 within 1 calendar year on the Chase British Airways credit card and earn a Travel Together Ticket which can be used for award reservations on British Airways operated flights only. The Travel Together Ticket is valid for two years from when you earn it, but can be used only ONCE.  You can earn only one British Airways Travel Together pass per calendar year, and they are valid only on British Airways flights.  This means that if you live in Omaha, but your British Airways flight leaves from Chicago, you can’t use the Travel Together ticket to get from Omaha to Chicago, because British Airways doesn’t fly from Omaha to Chicago. Expect to pay ~$400 in fuel surcharges and taxes per long-haul segment on award bookings, but that’s still cheaper than paying for a business or first class ticket. The companion pass is NOT worth it if you will be redeeming in coach because of the high fuel charges. Spending $96,000 on the Chase British Airways card will get you 120,000 British Airways points (you earn 1.25 British Airways Avios points per $1 spent) which is enough for a First Class round trip for two to London from Chicago with the Travel Together ticket.  However, expect to pay ~$800 in fuel surcharges for the round trip per person. The current sign-on bonus for the British Airways card is 50,000 points, but there have been three previous offers with 100,000 points.

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