Now Is the Time to Start Earning Your Southwest Companion Pass for Next Year

In the world of award travel deals, the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is the closest thing there is to magic.

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Updated 11/27/19

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 This Strategy Works 

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Credit: Twenty20

Step 1

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.

Step 2

To get you almost all the way to earning Companion Pass, you also need to sign up for a personal card. These include the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card. All of these cards offer new applicants 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. Each of these cards has its advantages, but the most affordable is the Rapid Rewards Plus card with just a $69 annual fee.

Step 3

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?

two women at the Eiffel tower
Credit: Twenty20

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.

Bottom Line

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

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Credit: Twenty20

If you’re looking to earn a Southwest Companion Pass for the next calendar year, you’re in luck! Below you’ll find a breakdown of the most popular Southwest credit cards with the Slickdeals community. And the good news is that all points earned with these cards gets you closer to your Companion Pass.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card is the entry level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners.  All Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards earn 2 points per $1 spent with Southwest, and for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible.

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Our favorite Rapid Rewards Plus perk is the 3,000 bonus points that are awarded to cardholders on the anniversary of your account opening. It’s an added incentive to retain the card after you’ve earned the bonus 40,000 points for signing up.

  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Value: 2x points per $1 spent with Southwest
  • Sign-Up Offer: 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • Pro: 3,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Con: Only 1 point per $1 spent on purchases outside of Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card offers the standard 2x points per $1 spent with Southwest. While double points is not the most exciting feature, all points earned with this card gets you closer to a Southwest Companion Pass.

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For a slightly higher annual fee, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier doubles your cardholder anniversary bonus with a whopping 6,000 points.

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Value: 2x points per $1 spent with Southwest
  • Sign-Up Offer: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • Pro: 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Con: Only 1 point per $1 spent on purchases outside of Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is as close to a premium credit card that Southwest Airlines offers non-business account holders.

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While the earnings of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority are the same as the Plus and the Premier, the $149 annual fee does reward cardholders with a generous 7,500 bonus points on their account anniversary.

  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Value: 2x points per $1 spent with Southwest
  • Sign-Up Offer: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • Pro: 7,500 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Con: Only 1 point per $1 spent on purchases outside of Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card is a valuable product for entrepreneurs and those with promising side hustles.

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The sign-up bonus is a generous 60,000 points, but the $3,000 spending threshold is triple the requirement for the consumer cards.

  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Value: 2x points per $1 spent with Southwest
  • Sign-Up Offer: 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • Pro: 6,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Con: Only 1 point per $1 spent on purchases outside of Southwest

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business credit card is perfect for small business owners who have employees who travel. The card offers employee cards at no additional cost and provides perks like inflight WiFi credits, TSA Pre Check fee credit and complimentary upgraded boardings.

Apply Today

The card also offers the most generous point rewards structure of any of the Southwest cards: 3 points per $1 spent with Southwest.

  • Annual Fee: $199
  • Value: 3x points per $1 spent with Southwest
  • Sign-Up Offer: 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three billing cycles
  • Pro: 9,000 bonus points after your cardmember anniversary
  • Con: High annual fee

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.

NEXT: I Get Free Meals at the Airport Whenever I Travel — Here’s How 

We want to make sure you get the best deal! Our editors strive to ensure that the information in this article is accurate as of the date published, but please keep in mind that offers can change. We encourage you to verify all terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply. Also, please remember this content wasn’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any company mentioned in this article.

Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel and other areas of personal finance. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the credit card industry, Jason’s work has been featured at mainstream outlets such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money and Business Insider.

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