In the world of award travel deals, the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is the closest thing there is to magic. I’ve had the pass for years, and I’m still amazed that with a click of a button, I can add my designated companion to any flight I’m on, usually for just $5.60 in mandatory taxes (somewhat more for flights to some international destinations). I can do this on an unlimited number of paid or award flights while being charged less than my cost of taking public transit to the airport!
My strategy for earning and renewing my Companion Pass has always been to sign up for two Southwest credit cards, every other year, and timing it so that I receive the bonus points at the beginning of the year. As 2019 draws to a close, now is the time to grab your Companion Pass that will be good until the end of the year 2021.
How To Earn a Southwest Companion Pass
First, sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards®Performance Business Credit Card. This card offers you a whopping 70,000 point bonus once you use it to spend $5,000 within three months of account opening. Other perks include four upgraded boardings per year, a $100 credit towards a Global Entry or a TSA Precheck application and 365 WiFi credits each year. You also receive 3x points on all Southwest purchases and 2x points per dollar spent on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable and phone services.
Remember, you can qualify for a business credit card if you own or are starting any kind of small business, including an unincorporated sole proprietorship. So, if you babysit, walk dogs or drive for a rideshare company, then you can qualify.
There’s an annual fee of $199, but you get 9,000 bonus points each year when you renew the card. Remember, you can qualify for a business credit card if you own or are starting any kind of small business, including an unincorporated sole proprietorship. So, if you babysit, walk dogs or drive for a rideshare company, then you can qualify. If you haven’t incorporated and don’t have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), then you can just use your Social Security Number (SSN) instead.
To get you almost all the way to earning Companion Pass, you also need to sign up for a personal card. These include:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
All of these cards offer new applicants 75,000 bonus points. Cardholders receive 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. Plus they’ll earn an additional 35,000 points after spending $5,000 total in the first six months their account is open. Each of these cards has its advantages, but the most affordable is the Rapid Rewards Plus card with just a $69 annual fee.
Next, you need to contact Chase to set the due dates for both cards to the 26th of each month, so your statement closes on the 1st. That means that all of the points you earn in December to qualify for the bonus and the Companion Pass will be credited to your account on January 1st. After qualifying for both bonuses, you will have earned 115,000 of the 125,000 points needed to earn the Companion Pass for 2020-2021 (this is an increase from the 110,000 points needed previously). You’ll then only need to earn just another combined total of 10,000 points from your credit cards and/or your flights.
Just be sure that you don’t meet the minimum spending requirement before the statement period that closes in 2020. If you make a mistake and accidentally earn one of the sign-up bonuses before the end of the year, there’s no way to fix it.
What’s The Southwest Companion Pass Offer Worth?
You might look at the combined annual fees of at least $268, not to mention the spending required, and wonder if the time and money is worth it. The answer is that it’s not even close. That’s because Southwest Rapid Rewards Points are worth about 1.5 cents each, so the 125,000 points you earn to receive the Companion Pass are worth about $1,875 dollars in award travel. (You don’t have to redeem your points to get the Companion Pass, just earn them. You can still use redeem them for free travel.)
If you were to add your companion to all of that award travel, then you’re looking at about $3,750 worth of free travel for two. And that’s before you account for all the benefits these cards offer, as well as the unlimited opportunities to add your companion to all of your bookings over the course of nearly two years.
If you always travel by yourself, then this deal isn’t for you. But if you have a friend, relative, colleague or significant other that you like to go places with, then this is an amazing offer. By signing up for just two credit cards, you can earn thousands of dollars of free travel and enjoy the unlimited potential of the Southwest Companion Pass.
Breakdown of the Best Southwest Credit Cards
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Comparing Rewards Credit Cards
Still not sure about which rewards cards are right for you? We get it. Choosing a credit card that meets your needs is important, which is why Slickdeals’ Credit Card Hub helps you compare the benefits of different cards, search credit cards by rewards categories, and explore cards by their issuers — all to find the best fit for your wallet.