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There’s a good reason why we rank the Southwest Companion Pass as the best deal in travel. The Companion Pass allows you to add a 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, but the easiest way to do it is to earn Southwest points. You need to earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a single calendar year to qualify for the Companion Pass. For most people, it’s easier to earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year, so let’s take a look at how to do that:
The good news is the points you earn from any of these Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses will count toward earning a Companion Pass:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Up to 60,000 Southwest points after you meet minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Up to 60,000 Southwest points after you meet minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – Up to 60,000 Southwest points after you meet minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – 60,000 Southwest points after you meet minimum spending requirements
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card – 80,000 Southwest points after you meet minimum spending requirements
How to Earn Southwest Points for a Companion Pass
When you earn the Southwest Companion Pass you’ll enjoy its benefits for the remainder of the year you earned it in through the end of the following year.
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)
Here are some more ideas for how to earn qualifying Southwest Companion Pass points.
Because Southwest points earned from Southwest credit cards will count towards the Companion Pass, earning 110,000 Southwest points is easier than ever thanks to the increased welcome bonuses offer from the three personal Southwest credit cards.
You can check your progress towards the Companion Pass by logging in to your Southwest account at any time. This makes it easy to see how close you are to earning this incredible travel perk.
Use Southwest credit cards for an easy Southwest Companion Pass
The easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is by earning welcome bonuses from both one personal and one small business Southwest card. Note that you’re no longer able to have two 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 up to 60,000 Southwest points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, plus, 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.
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 three months of account opening. And with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card you’ll earn 80,000 Southwest points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening your account.
With a bonus from one of the personal cards and one business card, you’ll have 120,000 or 140,000 Southwest points (60,000 points + 60,000 points or 80,000 points).
Just remember, The Southwest credit cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, where they will not approve you for their cards if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (not counting Chase business cards and most other business cards) in the past 24 months.
While the business credit cards also requires you to be within the 5/24 requirement, opening it will not increase your total. For this reason, if you have four credit card opens in the last 24 months, I recommend applying for a business card first. This way you would still be within Chase’s 5/24 rule (with just four opens). After you apply for the business card, you can apply for a personal card which should still only show a count of four 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 puts them above the 5/24 rule.
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 eight weeks after completing your spending requirements to receive the Southwest points in your account. 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 the year 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. The earlier in the year you earn the 110,000 points required, the longer you’ll have unlimited use of 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 him- or herself with either cash or points and then simply add a designated companion to their reservation to fly for just the cost of taxes and fees (~$6 on domestic flights). Check out this detailed guide for more on how to use the Southwest Companion Pass.
You can still redeem your points earned from the Southwest credit cards for free flights after earning the Companion Pass.
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 flight. However, the points you transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest will not count toward earning the Companion Pass.
Just remember you can only have one Companion Pass at a time per person, but you and a partner could both earn Companion Passes — which could make family travel extremely cheap.
If you want to earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2019, two welcome offers from the Southwest credit cards will get you there.
By earning the bonuses on one of the business cards and one of the personal Southwest cards, you’ll have 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 soon. Then, once you’ve earned the 110,000 points needed, you can use the Companion Pass for the rest of this year and through the end of 2020.
Or you could wait until early 2020 to earn a Companion Pass and have it for all of that year and all of 2021. This strategy requires a lot of timing because you’d need to wait to complete your minimum spending requirements so the bonus points post to your account in 2020.
Check out our guides for using Southwest Airlines points:
- Southwest status
- Best ways to use Southwest points
- How to earn Southwest points
- How to set up a Southwest account
- How to use Southwest points
- Southwest award chart
- Do Southwest points expire?
Featured image by Fominayaphoto/Shutterstock.