Now is the Best Time to Easily Earn Southwest Companion Pass!

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For years, I have been saying the “best deal in family travel” is the Southwest Companion Pass.  I don’t usually like throwing around the word “best” when describing deals and destinations because everyone’s travel needs and wants are so different, but honestly this deal may truly deserve the “best deal in family travel” rating…at least for those in the US who live near an airport serviced by Southwest.

Companion Pass mommy pointsThe ability to earn the Southwest Companion Pass very quickly and easily isn’t new, but it is time for a refresher on the “best deal in family travel” because a couple of stars have aligned to make this not only the “best deal in family travel”, but also the best time of the year to work on earning the Companion Pass.  The way the Companion Pass works is one person in the family qualifies for it and then someone else (AKA their companion) gets to travel for free with them on any Southwest flight for the life of the pass.  All they pay is the Sept. 11th fee of around $5.60 per flight.  It doesn’t matter if the pass holder is flying on dollars or points, they can still bring their companion along for no fee other than the taxes.  There are other deals and companion certificates out there with different carriers where you can bring companions on a certain flight either for free or at a reduced cost, but no deal even comes close to being able to bring someone on every flight for free for up to two years!

Easily Earn the Southwest Companion Pass:

Normally the only people who would earn a Companion Pass are those who do a very significant amount of travel on Southwest in a calendar year.  However, there is currently another way to get it that is much easier and more accessible to almost all of us.  You need 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points in a calendar year (Jan 1 – Dec 31) to earn the Companion Pass, and the sign-up bonus from the co-branded Southwest credit cards count.  Are your wheels turning yet?

Southwest Credit Cards Offering 50,000 Bonus Points Worth $700+ Each:

The sign-up bonus from the Southwest credit cards counts toward the Companion Pass, and right now all four versions of the card are available with 50,000 sign-up bonus points!  The points themselves are worth around 1.4 cents each, so 50,000 points are worth around $700 toward Wanna Get Away fares on Southwest regardless of any Companion Pass.  That alone is huge in my book.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Personal Credit Card: Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account ($99 annual fee)

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account ($99 annual fee)

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Personal Card: Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account ($69 annual fee)

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card: Get 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account ($69 annual fee)

The reason now is the very best time to go for the pass (aside from having all of the cards at the 50,000 point level), is that the Companion Pass is good for the year you earn it in, plus all of the following year.  That means if you earned the pass right at the beginning of 2015, it would be good for that whole year plus all of 2016.  Pretty amazing, huh?! To add a cherry on top of a cherry, this even works for the new international Southwest destinations like the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Aruba.

The best play here is to get a card at the 50,000 point level, but do not hit the spending requirement until early 2015.  Let me repeat that, you do not want the bonus points to post in 2014, because if they do they will count toward earning the pass this year, not next year.  Be very, very careful with this timing.  You then need to get all the way to 110,000 points as soon as possible to earn the pass.

Keep in mind that the terms state that the new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either current cardmembers of this credit card, or previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.  However, all four versions of the card are considered different card products.

Fly Your Family Around for Less with the Companion Pass + Lots of Southwest Points:

I know some families where the mom and dad both are companion pass holders, and thus they can then have both kids fly with them via just paying taxes.  I even know a family where the dad had the pass and the wife (his companion) and two twins (under the age of two) would all fly thanks to that one pass, and the rules allowing children under two to travel as lap infants.

When you have and use a companion pass while redeeming Southwest points, you are essentially doubling their value and making them the most valuable type of points for domestic US travel.  A Southwest point is normally worth close to 1.4 cents each toward Wanna Get Away fares, but if that point is being used to get two flights instead of just one, it is essentially now worth about 2.8 cents.

You can transfer points into Southwest from Ultimate Rewards via cards the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, but those points will not be Companion Pass qualifying.  However, those points will be worth a ton when you are redeeming them for flights for you + 1 using the Companion Pass, if you start to run low on all the points that will come with getting the Southwest cards in the first place.  You can change your designated companion up to three times within the validity period of the pass, so you can adjust accordingly if only certain members of your family are going with you on a given trip.

If anyone knows of a better deal in family travel, please let me know.  Otherwise, I think this deal is currently in the #1 overall spot and now is the best time to start on your Companion Pass for 2015 and 2016 thanks to all four Southwest card offering bonuses at the 50,000 point level.  I’d love to hear your experience with the companion pass if you have the Companion Pass, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. I applied for SW premier and biz cards on same day all week. Got approved for premier but not for biz card. What options do I have? Should I apply for biz card or Plus card in Feb?

      • I would try to talk to Chase to see if there is any way to get the biz card approved. Otherwise, the other personal card would be my play in a few months.

        • Tried already thrice with Chase. I have to let go of that now. But if I apply for Plus, is there any reason I will be approved if I already have a premier? Do we know when the plus offer expires?

  2. Curious, do you yourself have this “best deal in family travel” yet? Or are you just pumping this deal again this year cuz you get affiliate referral money everytime somebody signs up for the credit card through your links? Cuz obviously if this truly was the “best deal in family travel”, you’d have a Companion Pass yourself, especially since you live in the 6th largest city that Southwest Airlines serves (in terms of daily departures), correct? Or are you still using the excuse that IAH is 22 mins closer to your house than HOU as the reason you pump this deal without actually having a SWA Companion Pass yourself? Yeah, that’s it folks, it’s not that I make a truckload of money pushing you into this credit card, it’s just that 22 minutes is too far for me to drive to get in on “the best deal in family travel”. Uhhhhh, OK Mommy.

    • GregoryGrady, we’ve hashed this one out before, but nothing has changed on my end…other than increased interest in some of the Southwest international destinations. Only in the best of circumstances is IAH 22 minutes from Hobby. Often much longer, and Southwest just isn’t a good option for my family for a large number or reasons that we have hashed out before. I will re-highlight one big problem for us though, my husband would not do well with unassigned seats and no E+, period. You have to go with what works for your family, and that would go over like a ton of bricks in mine. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a heck-of-a-deal for many many family travelers, and I would love to stumble across a better all around deal in family travel. Also, just to set the record straight, there is one affiliate link in the post, but by most standards, I am in no way am I making a “truckload of money pushing you into this credit card.”
      Sean, doubt you would get an auto-approval on two personal cards, but theoretically it could work for some who need to keep expenses separate on both personal cards for one reason or another.

  3. Hello:

    Can one apply for two personal cards at the same time or does one have to apply for one personal and one business card?

    Thanks!

    • I applied for Chase Fairmont on 8/1 and United on 8/6. Both were approved instantly, and there was only one inquiry. It may also depend on your personal credit history, but since you may only get one inquiry, it doesn’t hurt to try!

  4. I’ve done the personal and biz cards in the past. And that seems like the obvious play. But with my CP expiring now, I’m going to repeat the play with the wife for the next two years. With her it would be easier to go for the two personal cards, the Plus and the Premier. But I can see Chase being a bit iffy about approving somebody for both of these. Any thoughts on whether this ever happens?

  5. I herewith issue my “2015 qualification challenge”: I qualified for my CP renewal on January 10, 2014, which gives me CP through the end of 2015. (I combined one 50,000 point new card bonus, a 6,000 point card annual renewal bonus, about $45,000 in year end business expenses, $6,000 in personal expenses, and a misc 3,000 point bonus. Kept track of everything with a spreadsheet.) Let’s see who can qualify even earlier in 2015!! (Unlike MP, Southwest is the best option for my family. WN has become my preferred domestic carrier for several reasons – CP, fully refundable points bookings, and revenue bookings changeable with no fee.)

  6. Hah wait till you start earning pitiful few United miles from flights because of rev based earning. You may rethink your addiction to E+. With A-List preferred its pretty easy to get first or exit row as well. I’m trying Southwest from here on out for a year or two.

  7. Need to wait a couple of weeks to apply. Do you know if there is an ending date to this offer?
    Also, any thoughts on how many Chase cards are too many to be applying? Have Hyatt, United, IHG, Freedom and Ink. Thanks.

  8. I’ve considered doing this, but worry it doesn’t really work. Southwest will say you can get 50K towards the companion pass, but won’t verify the 100K.

    Do you really get 100k bonus points towards the companion pass with the two cards? Is there a way to check this beforehand?

  9. I know at least with my family we could not afford all of our traveling without the Companion Pass. I have gotten mine using the 2 credit card applications and will qualify again this year.

  10. Was able to get instant approval on both personal cards (applied for within 5 minutes of each other) so it is possible for anyone thinking of going that route.

  11. Hi, I already got 50000 miles in April this year, and just got approved another card for 50000 miles, so if I want to get the companion ticket, do I need to hit the min spending within 2014? If I wait until early Jan 2015 to hit the spending, the 50000 miles that I earned earlier will not count towards the companion ticket?

  12. my husband has over 60k this year after earning 50k on a premier personal card earlier in the year. He did not qualify for the business card. Is it possible if he qualifies for the other personal card to spend the $2k before end of year but get the award in January?

  13. -I don’t yet know the official end date for these. Typically they are around at least a month or more, but no guarantees.
    -The main different between the Plus and Premier are the annual fees and the amount of bonus points awarded each year (after the first year).
    -If you already earned 50-60k points in 2014 and want to get to 110k, you need to get on it ASAP as you have to have the points post in 2014 and that is getting tight given billing cycles. You would need to hit the spending requirement virtually instantly and be sure your statement date it hits on is in December.
    -Any points earned in 2014 won’t count for anything as far as the CP goes once the calendar turns to 2015.
    -So glad the CP is working for many of you and that you have your eyes set on another one. Well done!
    -Thanks for the two personal cards data point.

  14. Thanks for all the great tips. I can personally vouch for this one. My wife and I both applied for personal and business plus cards in 2012. We both got our bonuses and received our companion pass. We have twins and added one child each as our companion and fly a family of four for the price of two! Plus having a combined balance of 220,000 miles means we can literally fly free at half the cost. The other thing I like about Southwest is that you can cancel at the last moment or book a trip on points and cancel without penalty. Works out great for families who can sometimes have a sick child at the last moment and not feel guilty or pressure to go on a trip. I usually book trips whenever there is a kids holiday just in case we want to get away! If we don’t feel like going or someone not feeling well, I cancel!

    My question is that Chase now has 24 month policy in between re-applying for the same card. Do you know is it 24 months since card was cancelled or since bonus posted. I had 2 plus cards, plan to apply for premier but interested in answer for next time when we do this all over again!

  15. Lily – adding to MP’s comment – suppose your statement closing dates are Dec. 3 and Jan. 3. You would need to reach the required spend a few days before Dec. 3 to ensure your required spend and 50,000 bonus points post on the Dec. 3 statement. Points for anything you spend after that would not post until 2015. If that doesn’t work for you, one possible option is to call Chase and ask them to change your statement closing date to (for example) the 26th of the month, and confirm that you will have a statement closing on Dec. 26. That would give you more time.

  16. If I were to apply for both personal cards and my first statements, for example, closed on Dec 10 2014, should I begin spending right after the Dec statement closes? The next statement with all of my spending would close Jan 10 2015 and my points would be deposited into my southwest account in 2015. Thus, my 110k points would be deposited in 2015 and my companion pass would be valid for 2015-2016. Does this make sense and is it a good strategy?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Josh – yes, assuming you are approved for both cards, that will work. (That was my basic strategy to earn CP in Jan 2014.) In your example, you need to ensure you meet the spending requirements at least a few days prior to Jan. 10, so the charges actually post in time.

  17. Was just approved for the Business and Personal – Cars will be here next week – I Have a major purchase I need to make – If I put 1800 on each card next week – That would leave me with $105 needed after the fee – If I wait until Jan 1 to make those $105 purchases – Am I correct in thinking than then in 2015 – my 100K points would post? I can get the other 10K via transferring from Ultimate Rewards->Hyatt->Southwest??

    Is this all right?

  18. Thank you for all the answers! Since we were already to 60000 points this year we went ahead and applied for card 2 for my husband and were approved – we are THRILLED! We have at least 3 trips planned next year with the kids and while our pass will only be good for a year we will have savings by using the pass.

  19. Great question. We just reached our 1st anniversary and got charged the annual fees on out two cards and want to find out whether the 24 month counter starts when we first received the sign up bonus or when we cancel the card or what.

  20. I have 92000 points earned in 2012 and 2013. If I get the 50000 pts. would I get the companion pass? Or would I have to get 2 cards ms met in 2015?

    • CP points only count the year they were earned so those 92k you can use to fly on award tickets but not toward CP. You would need 110k earned in 2015.

  21. Hi, I took your advice and signed up for 2 southwest cards . I had a insurance bill due so used 1 card for it 1900.00 will spend the other 100.00 after 1/1/15 billing due date is 12/22/14 , the 1900.00 wont go on the companion pass as points right ? signed up at the same time for a second card actived both at the same time the second card billing due date is 1/3/15 will points on that card count for the companion pass ?

    • Lisa, should be fine, just don’t spend more on that card until 1/1 just to be super super safe. Personally I don’t mess around with something that major, so I personally just would not cross spend threshold until 1/1 regardless of billing dates, though I know some play it closer to the wire than I do. Congrats in advance!

  22. Bummping this question up:
    We just reached our 1st anniversary and got charged the annual fees on our two cards and want to find out whether the current 24-month counter to requalify for the bonus pt starts:
    a) when we first received the sign up bonus or
    b) when we cancel the card or what.

    Thanks.

    • Wingit, the terms say that the sign-up bonus is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months. So reads to me as A based on the terms.

      • Thanks MP. I am thinking if it were option A) as you interpret the T&C, then I will keep the two cards open for now, pay the fees, get the anniversary bonuses, then cancel at the end of next year (the 2nd year for having the cards open). This keeps the cards open two years vs. one year (if I were to close them now) which helps my credit score in the long term (acct longevity is one factor impacting credit scores). At that point (end of second year), maybe I close and have my significant other try for the two cards!

  23. I was approved 3 weeks ago for the premier personal card and found out today I was declined for the business. I have had the plus card for 7 years and was never late on a payment and pay the card off every month. I called customer service and talked to their application specialist and after answering a few questions was approved for the business card. Yea, I was even able to transfer some of my credit limit from another card to this business card. Thank you so much for this information as I was only 39,000 points away from the companion status this year and this way I can still take advantage of this special for next year.

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