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Update: After March 31, 2017, transferring hotel points to Southwest no longer counts towards the Companion Pass. But here’s how to earn Companion Pass points when booking paid nights at hotels.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Now’s a perfect time to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass because if you earn the Companion Pass in 2016, it’s valid for the rest of this year and all of 2017.
And it’s easy to earn the Companion Pass now, because there are increased sign-up bonuses on all 3 Chase Southwest cards!
I’ll remind you how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. And show you how to make the most of it!
What’s the Deal?
With the Southwest Companion Pass, your companion flies with you for almost free (just the cost of taxes and fees) on both paid and award tickets.
This has saved Emily and me thousands of dollars! We’ve used the Southwest Companion Pass almost exclusively for domestic travel for the past several years.
To get the Southwest Companion Pass, you must earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year.
Once you’ve earned the points and qualified for the pass, it’s valid until the end of the following year.
So if you earn the Companion Pass early in 2016, it’s valid through December 31, 2017. That’s almost 2 years of nearly free travel!
The Easy Way to Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass!
It may seem like a lot, but it’s actually quite easy to earn the 110,000 Southwest points required in a calendar year to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
With either the Chase Southwest Premier (personal) or Chase Southwest Premier (small business) cards, you’ll earn 50,000 Southwest points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account..
We don’t earn a commission for these offers, but Emily and I will always tell you about the best deals!
So by signing-up for 2 of these cards and completing the minimum spending, you’ll be most of the way to earning the points required for the Southwest Companion Pass. Here’s a post that explains the differences between the cards.
In the past, folks have had most success by signing-up for 1 personal and 1 small business card at (or around) the same time. If you’re not immediately approved, it’s worth calling Chase to see if they need more information.
You’ve Earned the Southwest Companion Pass – Now What?
Even if you’re still working on qualifying for the Southwest Companion Pass, you can start planning how you’ll use it!
You can use the points you’ve already earned this year towards an award ticket. They’ll still count towards the Companion Pass, even if you use them for flights!
And Southwest is terrific because you won’t pay fees if you need to change or cancel your flights later. Plus, everyone gets 2 free checked bags!
Note: You can change your companion up to 3 times per calendar year (6 times total, if you hold the pass for 2 years).
Southwest has been introducing lots of new routes, including to the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico. And if you’re lucky enough to live near 1 of Southwest’s busiest airports, you’ll have even more ways to use your Southwest Companion Pass.
You might end up traveling so much that you’ll need more Southwest points!
But remember, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Southwest do NOT count towards earning the Southwest Companion Pass!
This is a terrific way to earn more Southwest points for award flights. And your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are almost twice as valuable when you have the Southwest Companion Pass (because you’re flying almost 2-for-1).
Note: Chase has tightened their rules for approving new applications for Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (although there are exceptions). If you’ve received ~5+ cards (from any bank) in the previous 24 months, you may not be approved.
So if you’re interested in cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom, it’s best to apply for them first. Especially if you’re new to our hobby and haven’t applied for a lot of cards yet!
Then, wait ~3 months and apply for the Chase Southwest cards.
It’s a great time to earn the Southwest Companion Pass!
Because if you qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass early in the year, you’ll get almost 2 years of nearly-free travel for a friend or family member who flies with you.
And it’s easy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass now because all 3 Chase Southwest cards have an improved sign-up bonus. Two cards can get you most of the points you’ll need to qualify for the Companion Pass.
Emily and I don’t earn a commission for these cards, but we’ll always share the best deals with you!
Remember, you must earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year to earn the Companion Pass. There are lots of easy ways to earn the remaining points! Just be sure to avoid these 3 common mistakes.
Let me know if you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass and your favorite ways to use it!