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My First Time Using the Southwest Companion Pass Saved $440 — Here Are 3 Ways I’ll Use It to Save Thousands More

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My First Time Using the Southwest Companion Pass Saved $440 — Here Are 3 Ways I’ll Use It to Save Thousands More

Joseph HostetlerMy First Time Using the Southwest Companion Pass Saved $440 — Here Are 3 Ways I’ll Use It to Save Thousands MoreMillion Mile Secrets Team

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INSIDER SECRET: Southwest Companion Pass holders can change their companion three times per calendar year.

It works!

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.

This $490 ticket cost me just $50 in taxes & fees. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

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:

  • Hawaii
  • Mexico
  • Aruba
  • Costa Rica
  • Bahamas
  • Grand Cayman
We used the Companion Pass for our Cancun trip last week. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

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)

OR

  • 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 NameWelcome BonusOur Review
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit CardEarn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit CardEarn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit CardEarn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit CardEarn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 monthsOur Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit CardEarn 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 a 40,000 point bonus) for a total of 120,000 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!

Bottom Line

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 Rapid Rewards Review

And subscribe to our newsletter for more firsthand experience and reviews of the best travel tricks in the world!

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

New! Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines?® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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