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Lyn writes about how to fly free on Southwest and has written a free guide that shows you step-by-step how to earn their coveted Southwest Companion Pass. The pass lets 1 person fly nearly free with you for up to 2 years and is a great value. The Million Mile Secrets team thinks it’s THE best deal in travel.
We’ve asked Lyn to share how you can earn the Companion Pass with only 1 personal card after Chase limited holders to just 1 personal Southwest card earlier this year.
Lyn: Zac over at TravelFreely recently asked me how to earn the Companion Pass by holding just 1 personal credit card. That’s a great question and one a lot of people are struggling with! Some people think it’s impossible unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend. But I’m here to tell you, it’s not!
For the last 2 years, I have earned the Companion Pass with NO card sign-up bonuses. That’s right!
Check out EXACTLY (point by point!) how I earned the pass last year without any cred card sign-ups, here. And I’ll give you some tips below on how you can do it, too.
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass With Just 1 Personal Card
To earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll need to accumulate 110,000 qualifying Southwest points within ONE calendar year (that’s January 1 through December 31, folks!).
Of course, the easiest way to do this is to sign up for TWO Southwest credit cards when they are offering a bonus of at least 40,000 points, and 50,000 or 60,000 points is even better! That used to include a mix of 3 cards: 2 personal and 1 business.
But … earlier this year Chase announced they were limiting cardholders to just 1 personal Southwest card. That meant you either had to qualify to sign up for the business card WITH the personal card or just go for a personal card. That left a lot of people fretting, but not to worry!
First, don’t give up on applying for the business card. I’ve found that if you have ANY type of side income and simply get some paperwork, like applying for an Employee Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS for free (which shows your name, your company name if you have one, and the company address altogether), you may qualify. Even if you are denied at first, call the reconsideration line!
But if that’s not an option, here are my tips:
1. Take Advantage of Referral Points
Do whatever you can to earn referral points by getting friends and family to sign up for the Southwest cards you hold. You may not be eligible to earn referral points on every card (here’s how to find your Chase Refer-a-Friend link to see what cards you can refer), but if you are, you can earn 10,000 points per referral up to 50,000 points.
That’s almost half-way there and as good as signing up for a new card!
Of course, having a blog helps. 🙂 That’s how I get my first 50,000 points every year. But also think about posting on Facebook or other social media or even emailing friends and family showing them how much you’ve been able to travel free on points. Don’t pester them, but it’s definitely worth the ask!
2. Book Hotels on SouthwestHotels.com
I can’t encourage this enough. I know you may be able to find slightly cheaper hotel rooms elsewhere, but if getting a Southwest Companion Pass is a top priority for you, this is a BIG way to earn a BUNCH of points.
Take a look at my insider tips for how to maximize this site so you get the MOST points. You can earn up to 10,000 points per night booked that ALL qualify for the Companion Pass. This is how I eventually earned all the points I needed for my pass last year, even booking a local hotel room that we did not even stay in!
3. Pay Attention to and Utilize the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
Many people tend to think of the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal as a place to earn a certain number of points per $1 when shopping at various online retailers. It IS that, and you should use it for that, but it’s MORE!
Each week, I share on my blog the top Rapid Rewards Shopping deals of the week. For example, you can easily earn hundreds and thousands of points very cheaply for one-time subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The Economist, Blue Apron and even Weight Watchers, but you’ve got to know about them!
Just a few weeks ago, I earned 3,600 Companion Pass-qualifying points with a 2-month $19 per month subscription to a Motley Fool newsletter that I wrote off as a business expense. I signed my husband up, too, so he got 3,600 points in his account, as well.
Those points add up fast, I’m telling you, and netted me about 10,000 points last year. I’m hoping for even more this year!
4. Anniversary Points on Your Southwest Cards
My final tip is that if you already hold one (or more) of the Southwest cards, and earning the Southwest Companion Pass is a priority, hold on to it (unless you need to cancel and get the bonus again — if it’s been 24 months since you last earned it).
Not only can you spend on the card to earn Companion Pass-qualifying points (I have readers who say they just use their card each year until they get enough Companion Pass points, though I don’t think I could spend $110,000!), but you get very valuable anniversary points every year that DO count toward the Companion Pass.
The (new!) Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, that’s currently offering 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, gives you 7,500 anniversary points each year. And the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card give you 6,000 points. Which, in my opinion, make them well worth their annual fees. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, on the other hand, gives you 3,000 anniversary points.
You CAN earn a Southwest Companion Pass with just 1 Southwest card sign-on bonus or even NO card bonuses! Try these techniques:
- Get as many referral points as you can
- Book hotels on SouthwestHotels.com
- Pay attention to offers worth hundreds or thousands of points on the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
- Hold on to existing Southwest cards to earn the anniversary points
Have you earned the Companion Pass without earning credit card sign-up bonuses? How did you do it?