How to avoid Southwest’s points transfer fees

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Did you know that it’s possible to use your points with the Southwest Companion Pass, even if you yourself don’t have one?

Southwest gives you the option to transfer your points from one account to another. If your travel buddy has a Companion Pass, you can deposit your points into their account, and they can book a flight for themselves, and a (nearly) free flight for you by adding you as their “companion.” The problem is that Southwest charges you to transfer miles.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround that will still allow you to add a companion to your reservation. If you’re planning to earn the Companion Pass (or already have it), this booking trick might come in handy. And the best Southwest credit cards are currently offering a promotional Companion Pass as a welcome bonus!! I’ll explain.

My husband and I used the Southwest Companion Pass to fly to Mexico for practically free. (Photo by Sarah Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

Book a Southwest flight using points from ANY account

I earned the Southwest Companion Pass in 2019. For those who don’t already know, the Companion Pass allows you to bring a friend or family member with you — every single time you fly Southwest — for only the cost of taxes and fees. That’s a fantastic deal, and it works for both paid and award flights. The Companion Pass easily saved us more than $1,000 in flights in just the first few months I had it.

I’m currently (practically) out of Southwest points, now, however… But my husband has a stash! I’ll show you a trick we can use to redeem his points with my Companion Pass.

My Companion Pass is mine and mine alone. Nobody else can use it, and I’m the only one who can decide who I want to designate as my companion.

For example, my husband can’t book an award flight for himself and add me as a companion, because the Companion Pass doesn’t belong to him! He is, however, my current Southwest “companion”. This allows him to indirectly use his Southwest points with my Companion Pass. Here’s what we do:

  1. Log into his Southwest account
  2. Use his Southwest points to book an award flight for me
  3. Log into my Southwest account
  4. Add him as a companion

Here’s the Southwest Companion Pass trick: You can use Southwest points in your account to book flights for friends and family — for anybody, really. Your points don’t have to be for just your travel.

So, once you enter the Southwest frequent flyer number on the passenger details page and book the flight, the reservation will be linked to that flyer’s account. If that person has a Companion Pass, they can just log into their account and click “Add Companion.”

For anyone without the Companion Pass, you can still use this booking trick to use someone else’s points to book your flight. The same goes for those who collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to your Southwest account. Then, use points to book a Southwest flight for friends or family. If those friends or family have the Companion Pass, they can add their companion to the reservation.

Should transferring Southwest points always be avoided?

There’s pretty much never a reason to transfer Southwest points to another account. That’s because you’ll lose around 66% of the value by doing so.

See, Southwest charges you $10 for every 1,000 points you transfer (you must transfer at least 1,000 points). Southwest points value tends to hover around 1.5 cents each, meaning if you transferred 5,000 points to your travel buddy, you’d spend $50 for $75 in points. That’s not worth it.

Additionally, transferring points from another account doesn’t qualify towards earning the Companion Pass. Nor does transferring points from Chase or American Express to Southwest.

How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

When you earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year, you’ll earn the Southwest Companion Pass. We consider the Companion Pass to be the best deal in travel. With the sign-up bonuses you can earn from Chase Southwest cards, it’s not difficult to earn the Companion Pass:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

All the above cards currently comes with a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.

You can also open either (or both!) of these small business cards, which earn Southwest points that qualify toward your Companion Pass quota:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card – 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening

Bottom line

At some point in your miles and points career, you may wonder: Can I use my Southwest points to book a flight for someone else?

The answer is a vehement yes – you can book a flight for anyone! And as humanitarian as that sounds, you can even use this to your advantage sometimes.

This is particularly useful for those with the Southwest Companion Pass. For example, my husband sometimes uses his Southwest points to book an award flight for me. Then, the reservation appears in my account and I can add him as a companion.

If you have any Companion Pass booking tricks, let us know in the comments.

Sarah Hostetler is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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