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INSIDER SECRET: Southwest Companion Pass holders can change their companion three times per calendar year.
We always say the Southwest Companion Pass is the holy grail of free travel, but that’s a restrained statement. It’s the greatest perk in the universe (maybe even the WHOLE WORLD).
My wife and I just flew back from Cancun, our first trip using the Companion Pass, and I can’t believe how effortless it is. It’s the most absurdly generous travel perk I’ve ever had.
One-way flights from Cancun were an outrageous $490 (or 32,000 Southwest points). We cashed in 32,000 Southwest points for a free flight and used the Companion Pass to get the other flight for just the cost of taxes and fees (~$50). The best part is that we can continue using the pass until the end of the year — as many times as we want. So it’ll keep on giving for another 6 months!
Here are three ideas we have to get the most from our Southwest Companion Pass.
Using the Southwest Companion Pass for the First Time
Since I started collecting miles and points six years ago, I’ve flown lie-flat business class to and from five continents, stayed in fairy-tale five-star hotels, consistently received double upgrades on car rentals, etc. (That’s all pretty easy, by the way.)
But I didn’t get into this hobby to travel in luxury. The only thing I really wanted was to hop on a plane and go. Go to new places and learn new things and taste new foods and meet new people. That’s why the Southwest Companion Pass is the most thrilling travel trick yet. Whenever I fly on Southwest, my companion can travel with me for just the cost of taxes and fees (usually $11.20 per round-trip domestic flight).
No, it doesn’t provide us with lie-flat seats and pre-departure mimosas. Southwest doesn’t even fly to Africa or Europe or Asia or Australia. But the Companion Pass gives my wife and me the key to fulfilling just about any travel goal we can dream up.
Visit Tropical Destinations
Southwest serves many stellar vacation spots, including:
- Costa Rica
- Grand Cayman
Depending on your home airport, those fares can be pricey. The Southwest Companion Pass effectively cuts those prices in half when you bring a friend or family member with you.
Visit Family for Holidays
Southwest flies all over the US, so it is a great help in keeping us connected with our family, especially for holidays and special events. We’ll likely travel to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving this year and the Companion Pass will again slash our holiday airfare in half.
Fly to Gateway Cities for Cheap International Flights
This is by far the most underrated use of the Southwest Companion Pass. As I mentioned earlier, Southwest doesn’t fly to places in, say, Europe and Asia. But the Companion Pass can help you reach those places inexpensively by using the Companion Pass to fly to international hubs.
For example, I live in Cincinnati. If I want to fly to Barcelona, it’ll cost me $800+ per round-trip. But if I use the Companion Pass to get to Chicago, I can book round-trip flights between Chicago and Barcelona for just $345!
Here are some more sample routes of cheap flights the Southwest Companion Pass can help you take. Deals are popping up CONSTANTLY.
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
To earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you must:
- Fly 100 one-way flights (within a calendar year)
- Earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points (within a calendar year)
The second option is much easier to achieve. That’s because points from Southwest credit cards count toward the Companion Pass at the moment. So you can get extremely close to earning the Companion Pass with the sign-up bonus on just a single card. Here are the current Southwest credit card offers:
|Card Name||Welcome Bonus||Our Review|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card||Earn up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after spending $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card||Earn up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after spending $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card||Earn up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after spending $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||Earn 80,000 Southwest points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months|
With these current card offers, it’s actual child’s play to earn the Companion Pass through two credit card bonuses. For example, you can open the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card (which comes with an 80,000 point bonus) and the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (which comes with an up to 60,000 point bonus) for a total of 140,000 Southwest points. If you earn these bonuses before the end of the year, you’ll can get a Companion Pass valid until December 2020.
Read our full Southwest Companion Pass FAQ here!
My wife and I have only used our Companion Pass once, but we’ve already saved $440. That’s as much as many credit card sign-up bonuses are worth in total.
I’ve been in the miles and points hobby for six years, but I’ve never had the Southwest Companion Pass. I can now say firsthand that it’s better than Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. If your travel goals include unbelievably cheap flights to Hawaii or the Caribbean, hopping around the US for fun, connecting with family and friends, or even chasing deals on international flights, the Companion Pass is perfect for you.
You can check out more about Southwest here:
- Southwest Points Value
- Southwest Status
- Best Ways to Use Southwest Points
- Everything to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Earn Southwest Points
- How to Setup a Southwest Account
- How to Use Southwest Points
- Southwest Award Chart
- Do Southwest Points Expire?
- Current Southwest Sale
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