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My credit card statement just closed, and the 50,000 point sign-up bonus from the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card counted toward the Southwest Companion Pass status because I got an email which said “Congratulations! You’ve just earned Companion Pass status.”
I earned 110,000 (100,000 points from 2 credit cards & the rest from hotel partners & car rentals) Southwest points worth $1,833 towards the cheapest Wanna Get Away fares.
That’s actually $3,666 worth of free travel ($1,833 X 2) if I redeem all my 110,000 points and if Emily travels as my companion for free. At ~$300 per ticket, Emily and I should be able to take weekend getaways every 2 months thanks to Chase and Southwest.
I’ve already spent a lot of time looking at places Emily and I could visit for quick weekend getaways!
Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is probably one of the best frequent flyer perks, since it lets you designate a companion who flies with you for FREE, regardless of whether you redeem points for your Southwest flight or pay cash. I’ll gladly sacrifice the “unlimited” upgrades on other airlines, for the Southwest Companion pass which will greatly reduce the amount of cash I pay for US air travel.
The Companion Pass will be particularly helpful during the holidays when ticket prices are high and when Emily & I can take advantage of the 2 free checked bags which Southwest offers.
You earn the Southwest Companion Pass by either flying 100 segments or earning 110,000 companion pass qualifying points within a calendar year.
The terms and conditions say that “Partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status.” However, the credit card sign-up bonuses currently count towards Companion Pass status.
But, as I write towards the end of this post, I’m not sure if the credit card sign-on bonus will count towards the Companion Pass in 2012. I hope it still does!
Chase Southwest 50,000 Application & Reconsideration
I applied for the card in November and since I didn’t get instant approval I called the business reconsideration telephone line. The call was much more pleasant compared to my last call 3 months earlier, and I offered to close my Continental Airlines business card to get approved for the Southwest Rapid Reward Plus credit card.
I wanted to close my Continental Airlines credit card because I had applied for it in March this year and already got 25,000 bonus miles. The card will be converted to the United Explorer card sometime in Q1 2012, and I didn’t want to risk not being able to get the sign-up bonus on the United Explorer card.
That’s because Chase lets you get the sign-up bonus only once per credit card type. For example, you could get the sign-on bonus once for the United Explorer and again for the United Mileage Plus card (when the Mileage Plus card was offered).
Word on the street is that we may see a larger sign-up offer next year for the United Explorer card. And there is a targeted offer for 60,000 miles floating around as well.
It is for this reason that I’m not upgrading both our United Mileage Plus cards to the United Explorer card despite being offered 10,000 miles each to convert our from the Mileage Plus to the Explorer card. Instead, I’ll keep the Mileage Plus card until the annual fee comes due or use it to negotiate my way to another credit card approval from Chase.
I got a huge credit limit of $2,500 (sarcasm), but I wasn’t too worried since I only had to make 1 purchase to get the miles. I made my 1st purchase and called Chase to confirm that my statement would close in December.
I’ve noticed that Chase’s online banking portal keeps on showing different closing dates for the 1st statement for any new Chase credit card. However, the closing date after the 1st statement is always accurate.
My statement closed in December (you usually get the points a few days after the statement in which you’ve made your first purchase closes) and the points transferred to my Southwest account. A few days later, I got an email from Southwest asking me to select a companion.
Since I got 50,000 Southwest points earlier this year from the personal Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offer, it made sense for me to earn the remaining 60,000 points needed for the Companion Pass this year instead of in next year.
I wouldn’t have earned the Companion Pass if 50,000 points had posted in 2011 and the remaining 60,000 points had posted in 2012.
So I applied for the business Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card for another 50,000 points, and I transferred Wyndham and Choice hotel points to Southwest, and credited a few car rentals to Southwest to get the 10,000 points I needed to get the Companion Pass.
So will this work in 2012?
I don’t know. As I wrote in an earlier post, Chase and Southwest could have fixed this glitch and the sign-up bonus from the credit card may not count towards the Companion Pass in 2012.
Another cloud on the horizon is that effective January 5, 2012, you’ll be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points (Ultimate Rewards is the loyalty program for Chase’s credit cards) from your Chase Sapphire and Ink Bold accounts to Southwest in 1:1 ratio.
I eventually expect Chase to allow us to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to all the hotel and airlines for which Chase issues credit cards. This is just another sign of how aggressively Chase is competing with American Express and how determined Chase is to make sure that their Ultimate Rewards point currency is preferred over American Express Membership Rewards. Personally, I think Chase has already won!
However, the terms and conditions say that points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest won’t count towards Companion Pass status.
I wonder if this is a sign that Chase and Southwest are aware that transferred points and credit card sign-up bonuses currently count toward the Companion Pass status?
Southwest prides itself on being a low cost airline, and I’m sure they never expected to give away 1 to 2 years of free flying just by signing up for 2 credit cards!
We won’t know until someone reports back. Hopefully it will still count and everyone will get their Companion Pass and close to 2 years of free flying!
Bottom Line: I wasn’t expecting the Southwest credit card bonus to count towards Companion Pass status, but I got lucky when it did.
$3,666 worth of free travel for 2 credit card sign-up bonuses + a few transferred hotel points is definitely one of the best ways I’ve had Big Travel with Small Money this year!