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Million Mile Secrets reader Mark writes in:
To get the companion pass you need to accumulate/earn 110,000 miles, I got that. This may be a counter intuitive question, but can you use some of the miles on an account before getting the companion pass and have those miles still count towards the 110,000 goal?
Like if I had 90,000 miles and I used 8,000, leaving me 82,000 — would I have accumulated 90,000 or 82,000 towards the companion pass?
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
Our favorite airline perk is the Southwest Companion Pass. Where else can a companion get unlimited travel – on both points or cash tickets – for up to 2 years?! Here’s a post on everything you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass.
All 4 Southwest credit cards currently have a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 within 3 months. 50,000 points can get you up to ~$850 in Southwest flights, which is pretty good for just one credit card. Even better, the 50,000 point sign-up bonus currently counts towards the Southwest Companion Pass.
Don’t forget to see this post on whether you should get the Southwest Companion Pass now…or at the end of the year.
What’s the Deal With the 110,000 Points?
Southwest has 3 types of points:
- Redeemable points (which you use for award flights etc.)
- Companion Pass points (which count towards the Companion Pass)
- A-List points (which count towards Southwest elite status)
Mark needs to earn a total of 110,000 Companion Pass points in ONE calendar year (January to December) to earn the Companion Pass.
But he does NOT need to trade-in 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points to get his Southwest Companion Pass. He’ll get the Companion Pass as long as he earns 110,000 Companion Pass points within 1 year, regardless of whether he spent any Southwest points on flights.
His Companion Pass points do NOT decrease if he redeems Southwest points for an award ticket. This may be confusing, but if you redeem Southwest points for a flight, only your redeemable points balance will decrease. Your Companion Pass balance remains the same!
For example, here’s a screenshot of my Companion Pass counter for 2013. It shows all the Companion Pass points which I’ve earned. I earned the Companion Pass in January 2013 as soon as I crossed 110,000 Companion Pass points.
In contrast, here’s my redeemable point balance. There are only ~66,000 points because I redeemed some points for award flights.
In short, Mark can redeem ALL his current 90,000 Southwest points, but will still have 90,000 points towards the Companion Pass status up to December 31, 2013. But his 90,000 Companion Pass points will become Z-E-R-O Companion Pass points on January 1, 2014.
If Mark expects to earn the Companion Pass soon, he should book flights for himself with his points now, because he can always add a companion once he earns the Companion Pass.
You can earn Qualifying Companion Pass points in lots of ways such as:
- Flying on Southwest
- Southwest credit card signup bonuses (this could change)
- Southwest credit card purchases
- Through Rapid Rewards partners such as Hyatt, Marriott, Hertz, Rapid Rewards dining program, etc.
Mark will earn the Companion Pass once he has earned 110,000 qualifying points.
Booking flights with his Southwest points will NOT lower the number of Companion Pass qualifying points he has earned in the year.