Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
INSIDER SECRET: The Southwest points you earn from everyday spending on a Southwest credit card will count toward earning a Companion Pass.
There’s a good reason why we rank the Southwest Companion Pass as the best deal in travel. The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to add your companion to your paid or award flights for nearly free (just the cost of taxes and fees). You and your companion can travel anywhere that Southwest flies (even to Hawaii!) an unlimited number of times while your pass is valid!
Earning the coveted Southwest Companion Pass requires a bit of planning. You need to earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points or fly 100 flight segments in a single calendar year to qualify for the Companion Pass.
The good news is, you can earn the points you need toward qualifying for a Companion Pass more easily with cards like:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – 40,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – 40,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – 40,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – 60,000 Southwest points after meeting minimum spending requirements
With two credit card welcome bonuses, you’ll have almost enough points to enjoy close to two years of nearly free travel for your Southwest companion. (Photo by John Gress Media Inc/Shutterstock)
How to Earn Southwest Points in 2019
If you start planning right now to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll enjoy its benefits for nearly 2 years (early 2019 through the end of 2020).
Understanding the Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass has just a few simple requirements to earn. You must earn either 110,000 qualifying Southwest points or fly 100 one-way flights (within a calendar year) on Southwest.
Southwest counts any of the following points as qualifying towards the Companion Pass:
- Points earned from paid flights on Southwest
- Points earned from Southwest credit cards
- Base points earned from Southwest Rapid Rewards partners (hotels and rental cars)
- More ideas to earn qualifying Southwest Companion Pass points
The highlight here is that Southwest points earned from Southwest credit cards will count towards the Companion Pass. And earning 110,000 Southwest points is easier thanks to the welcome bonuses from the Southwest credit cards.
You can check your progress towards the Companion Pass by logging into your Southwest account online at any time. This makes it easy to see how close you are to earning this incredible travel perk!
The Southwest Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the year you earn it and the entire next calendar year that follows. This means that if you earned the Companion Pass in April 2019, that you would get to use it for all the rest of 2019, plus ALL of 2020. That’s a lot of free flying!
Using Southwest Credit Cards to Launch Yourself Towards Earning an Easy Southwest Companion Pass
The easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is by earning welcome bonuses from one personal and one small business Southwest card. You’re no longer able to have 2 personal cards at one time.
When you apply for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, or the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, you’ll earn 40,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
And with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, you’ll earn 60,000 Southwest points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
So earning 2 welcome bonuses, a bonus from one of the personal cards and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you’ll have 100,000 Southwest points (40,000 points + 60,000 points). And if you factor in the points you’ll earn from meeting the minimum spending requirements on both cards (4,000 points total) you’ll have 104,000 points, which is just 6,000 points shy of the points you need for the Companion Pass.
Just remember, The Southwest credit cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, where they will NOT approve you for most of their cards if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and other business cards) in the past 24 months.
While the business credit card also requires you to be within the 5/24 requirement, opening it will NOT increase your total. For this reason, if you are sitting at 4 credit card opens in the last 24 months, I recommend applying for the business card first. This way you would still be within Chase’s 5/24 rule (with just 4 opens). After you apply for the business card, you can apply for a personal card which should still only show a count of 4 cards (since the business card didn’t contribute to the total). This way you can get approved for both.
Applying for the personal card first might put some folks at risk of not getting approved for the business card if the personal card was enough to throw them above the 5/24 rule. So if you plan on applying for both the business and a personal card, apply for the business card first.
Timing Your Welcome Bonuses
Before you start working towards meeting the minimum spending requirements on the Southwest cards, it is very important that you have a plan. Chase’s terms of service state that you should allow up to 8 weeks after completing your spending requirements to receive the Southwest points in your account. But in reality, these points usually post shortly after your statement (in which you met the minimum spending requirement) closes.
If you can complete the spending requirements during your first part of 2019 you should be well on your way to having all the miles needed for the Companion Pass available to you as early in the year as possible. If you factor in the points you’ll earn from meeting the cards’ (one personal and the business card) minimum spending requirements you’ll have a total of 104,000 points.
The earlier in the year you earn the 110,000 points required the longer you’ll have unlimited use from your Companion Pass.
Enjoying Your Southwest Companion Pass
Once you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can use it an unlimited number of times while it is active. The Companion Pass holder must purchase a ticket for themselves with either cash or points and then they can simply add their designated companion to their reservation to fly with them for just the cost of taxes and fees (~$6 on domestic flights).
Plus, you can still redeem your points earned from the Southwest credit cards towards free flights after earning the Companion Pass. You’ll be able to stretch the welcome bonuses twice as far because you and a companion will be able to travel for just the cost of 1 ticket (plus taxes and fees for the companion ticket).
Because Southwest is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, you can move your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest if you need more Southwest points for an award flights. However, transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest will NOT contribute any progress towards earning the Companion Pass.
Just remember that you can only have one Companion Pass at a time per person. But you and a partner could both earn Companion Passes. This can make family travel extremely cheap!
If you want to start working towards earning a Southwest Companion Pass in 2019, earning 2 welcome offers from the Southwest credit cards are a great way to start.
By earning the welcome bonuses on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card and one of the personal Southwest cards (Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, or the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card), you’ll have almost enough Southwest points to earn a Companion Pass.
Just remember to complete the minimum spending as quickly as possible so the welcome bonus points post to your Southwest account in early 2019. Then once you’ve earned the 110,000 points needed, you can use the Companion Pass through the end of 2020 – for nearly two years.
Check out our guides for using Southwest Airlines miles:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Review
- Southwest Points Value
- Southwest Status
- Best Ways to Use Southwest Points
- Everything to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Earn Southwest Points
- How to Setup a Southwest Account
- How to Use Southwest Points
- Southwest Award Chart
- Do Southwest Points Expire?