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I consider the Southwest Companion Pass to be one of the best deals in travel. Why? Because it lets a friend or family member travel with you for free whenever you travel on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash – your companion flies free!
And when the Chase Southwest cards are offering increased sign-up bonuses, it makes it that much easier to earn the 110,000 Southwest points needed to get the Southwest Companion Pass!
But the rules for earning and using Southwest Companion Pass can be confusing. So I’ll share the answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding the Companion Pass.
About the Southwest Companion Pass
Lots of us on the Million Mile Secrets team use the Companion Pass. Because Southwest flies to a lot of US cities, including popular vacations spots like Orlando, New Orleans, San Diego, and Puerto Rico. And to international destinations like Aruba, Belize, Mexico, and Grand Cayman.
Some folks frown upon Southwest for being a low-cost airline, but what’s not to like about them? The boarding process is among the most efficient, you can check 2 bags for free, they have a lot more non-stop flights than other airlines, and they offer the Companion Pass!
The quickest and simplest method for earning the pass is to open 2 Southwest credit cards (1 personal and 1 business card) when sign-up bonuses are 50,000 points or higher per card. That way you’ll earn almost all (if not all!) of the 110,000 points you need for the Southwest Companion Pass.
Million Mile Secrets readers frequently comment and email about earning and using the Southwest Companion Pass, so I’d thought I’d answer commonly asked questions here. Please comment if you have more questions to add!
Southwest Companion Pass FAQ
1. What Is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass is the best airline perk because it lets a friend or family member travel with you for free whenever you travel on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash – your companion flies for just the cost of taxes and fees as long as Southwest is selling seats on that flight.
2. Can My Southwest Companion Travel for Free If I Book My Ticket Using Points?
Yes, your companion can still travel free. You only have to pay a very small amount (~$6 one-way) for taxes. But some international destinations add additional taxes and fees. There is no limit to the number of times your companion can fly with you.
3. What Is the Southwest Companion Pass Worth?
Southwest points are generally worth between ~1.25 and ~1.43 cents each. So with the Companion Pass, for example, a 50,000-point sign-up bonus from a Southwest card is not worth just ~$625 to ~$715 (~1.25 cents each X 50,000 points or ~1.43 cents each X 50,000 points), but twice that!
4. How Can I Get a Southwest Companion Pass?
You need to fly 100 one-way flights (within a calendar year) on Southwest to qualify for the companion pass.
You need to earn 110,000 Southwest points (within a calendar year) to qualify for the Companion Pass.
Points from the Southwest credit card currently count towards the Companion Pass. And check out this post for more ways to earn Southwest Companion Pass points this year.
5. When Do I Need to Earn the 110,000 Southwest Points By?
You have to earn the 110,000 Southwest points within ONE calendar year (January to December). Your Companion Pass is valid from the date you earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points up to the end of the next calendar year.
For example, if you earn the companion pass on November 14, 2018, it is valid up to the end of 2019.
If you earned the Companion Pass on January 1, 2018, it is valid up to the end of 2019. So earning the Companion Pass early in the year can get you close to 2 years of free flying on Southwest.
6. Can I Still Redeem 110,000 Southwest Points for Flights Once I Earn the Companion Pass?
You don’t lose your 110,000 Southwest points when you earn the Companion Pass. You can still use the 110,000 Southwest points to book flights, and your companion flies for almost free if you have the Companion Pass.
7. Can My Companion Use Points From Their Own Account to Book My Flight and Then Fly for Free?
Yes. As long as you have a Southwest ticket in your name (either via cash, using your points, or using points from someone else’s account), you can add your companion to the flight.
8. Can My Partner and I Each Earn the Companion Pass & Fly the Kids for Free?
Yes, you and your partner can each earn the Companion Pass and add your kids, parents, or friends as companions. However, 1 person cannot earn more than 1 Companion Pass.
9. How Many Times Can I Change My Companion?
You can change your designated companion up to 3 times per calendar year, AFTER you initially choose your companion. That means you can have 4 different companions the first calendar year, then 3 in the 2nd year – or 7 total across the life of the pass.
So choose wisely!
You can switch back to an earlier companion, but it would count as a “switch” and eat into the 7 changes permitted.
10. How Do I Activate My Southwest Companion Pass?
See this post on how to activate your Southwest Companion pass.
11. How Can I Use My Southwest Companion Pass?
See this post on how to add a companion to your Southwest reservation.
12. How Can I Add a Companion If I Booked Through a Travel Portal?
If you booked a Southwest flight through a portal, like the Chase Travel Portal, check out this post about adding your companion to your ticket.
Southwest Credit Cards
1. Do the Chase Southwest Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses Count Towards the Companion Pass?
The credit card sign-up bonuses currently count towards Companion Pass status. Southwest points earned from spending on the Southwest cards also count!
2. Is the Annual Fee Waived for the First Year?
The $69 annual fee for the Chase Southwest Plus card and $99 annual fee for the personal and business version of the Southwest Premier card is NOT waived for the first year.
However, you get 3,000 Southwest points worth up to ~$43 (3,000 points X ~1.43 cents per Southwest point) with the Southwest Plus card & 6,000 Southwest points worth up to ~$86 (6,000 points X ~1.43 cents per Southwest point) with the Southwest Premier cards for renewing the card each year. That can help offset the annual fees.
Here’s a quick look at the differences between the cards:
|Southwest Premier Card||Southwest Premier Business Card||Southwest Plus Card|
|Spending||• 2X Southwest points with Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases|
• 1X Southwest points on all other purchases
|• 2X Southwest points with Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases|
• 1X Southwest points on all other purchases
|• 2X Southwest points with Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
• 1X Southwest points on all other purchases
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None||3%|
3. Can You Get the Bonus for the Business & Personal Version?
Yes, you can get the bonus for 1 personal (either the Plus or Premier version) & 1 business Southwest card. In my opinion, this is the best route to take if you want to apply for 2 Southwest credit cards. I’d apply for a personal card first and then the business version.
You could also get the bonus for 2 personal cards, but I don’t have experience with this and it could be harder to explain why you need 2 personal cards.
4. Do I Qualify for a Small Business Card?
Lots of folks qualify for small business cards without even realizing it! For example, if you freelance write, tutor students, or even sell items on eBay, you could be eligible for a small business card!
Having a business credit card also makes it much easier to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses.
If you think your business will grow in the future, it’s easy to generate an EIN (Employer Identification Number) on the IRS website at any time. So there’s no need to jump through any major hoops.
Plus, certain business credit cards will not appear on your personal credit report. This means that the average age of your credit history should not decrease because the business credit line doesn’t sit on your personal credit report.
5. Should I Apply for 1 Personal & 1 Business Card at the Same Time or One After the Other?
If you apply for 2 Chase cards at the same time, your second application almost always will be declined online. But if you call the Chase reconsideration line you can usually negotiate an approval for the card. They’ll likely just want more information from you, like documentation of a business or why you need both cards.
I’d apply for the personal card first and then the business version. Because it’s easier to explain why you’d need the personal version of the card and the business version, for example if you want to keep your personal and business expenses separate.
6. What Questions Does the Business Reconsideration Department Ask?
The questions have become more detailed over the years. Expect to be asked when you started your business, how long it has been established, what your business does, your revenue, sales, and profits from the last 2 or 3 years.
What are your future projections for revenue, sales, & profits? Sometimes, Chase will also ask for proof of your business, like a copy of a business card, invoices, etc.
7. Can You Get the Bonus From All 3 Chase Southwest Cards?
The Chase Southwest Plus and Southwest Premier cards are considered different card products. As are the business and personal versions of each card. So if you’ve had one version in the past, you can still get the other.
This means, in theory, you should eventually be able to get the bonus for all 3 cards.
8. Can 2 People Apply For the Cards Separately, but Put in the Same Southwest Rapid Reward Account Number? Or Do We Have to Put in Our Individual Rapid Rewards Numbers?
9. How Do I Know Which Version of the Chase Southwest Cards I Already Have?
The most recent versions of the cards have the version name written right on the front. For example, the Plus version has “Plus” written in the upper right hand corner. And the business version says “Business Premier.”
If you had an older version of one of the cards and aren’t sure which version it was, you could:
a. Call the number at the back of the card to ask
b. Check your annual fee. The Premier cards have a $99 fee and the Plus card has a $69 fee. You can check your statements online and the 1st or 2nd statement will have the annual fee
Timing the Southwest Companion Pass
1. Any Idea How Long the Increased Sign-Up Offers Last?
I don’t know, but they usually come around a couple of times a year. Though there’s no guarantee this will continue.
The 50,000 to 60,000-point offers have come and gone every 2 or 3 months for the last 2 years.
2. When’s the Best Time to Apply for These Cards? Now or Wait for Some Time?
The Southwest Companion Pass is good for up to 2 calendar years. If you want to take advantage of this benefit for the full 2 years, apply for 2 Chase Southwest cards in the last quarter of the year and complete the minimum spending after your December or January statement closes.
Here are some other links that you may find helpful:
- How to Time Your Spending for the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Not Mess Up the Southwest Companion Pass Timing
- To Get the Southwest Companion Pass It’s When You Earn the Points
Other Ways to Earn Southwest Companion Pass Qualifying Points
1. How Do I Check to See How Many Southwest Companion Pass Qualifying Points I Have?
You can check how many points you have towards the Companion Pass by clicking this link and signing into your Southwest account.
2. How Can I Earn Extra Points for the Southwest Companion Pass?
If at least 1 Chase Southwest card is offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus and there’s a 50,000 Southwest point offer available too, you can earn enough points for the Southwest Companion Pass (you’ll need 110,000 Southwest points) by opening just 2 Chase Southwest cards and meeting the cards’ minimum spending requirements (60,000 points + 50,000 points).
If you apply for the Chase Southwest cards while there are only 50,000-point offers available and you need ideas to get extra Companion Pass qualifying points, check out this post.
Just remember, don’t make these common mistakes that will NOT get you the Companion Pass. And don’t forget about Chase’s stricter approval rules, where if you’ve opened 5+ credit cards within the past 24 months from ANY bank (excluding Chase business cards and certain other business cards), it’s likely you will NOT be approved for most Chase cards.
3. Can I Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards Towards the Southwest Companion Pass Requirement?
You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest in a 1:1 ratio, but those points do NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
4. Can I Transfer Points From American Express Membership Rewards Towards the Southwest Companion Pass Requirement?
No, there’s no way to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points (the loyalty program of certain American Express credit cards) to Southwest to earn the Companion Pass.
I consider the Southwest Companion Pass to be one of the BEST miles and points deals for travel. And if timed correctly, you can have a companion fly with you for free for almost 2 years!
You can find answers to the most frequently asked Companion Pass questions here, including:
- The easiest way to earn the Companion Pass
- How to activate your Companion Pass
- How many times you can change your companion
- How to qualify for the Chase Southwest small business card
- …and more!
Have a Southwest Companion Pass question that’s not answered here? Let me know in the comments!