Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
The Southwest Companion Pass is incredibly valuable for families who like to travel on Southwest as having it means a companion can fly virtually for free with the pass holder on all Southwest flights for potentially close to two years (if you time it correctly). I’ve written about this tremendous deal many times, but it is worth repeating today as word is that at least some of the 50,000 point credit card sign-up bonuses that make it so easy to earn are going back down tomorrow (Wednesday) to the 25,000 point level. They will likely come back up again, so this isn’t a huge deal, except that….
This is a very, very good time of the year to work on earning the Companion Pass because it is good the year you earn it and all of the following year. Getting the 50,000 point offers now can maximize how long you have the Companion Pass.
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, reportedly through tomorrow (December 3rd)! 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 a very good 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. Remember that the Companion Pass 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. 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. If you are in a pinch to get to 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points you can transfer Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt and then to Southwest in order for them to count. There is substantial loss in the process, but it can be worth it to get over the last hurdle to earn the pass. 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.
The Southwest cards frequently fluctuate between the 50,000 and 25,000 point levels, so it is quite likely they will return to the 50,000 point level at some point. It is also quite likely there may be a working 50,000 point link hiding somewhere in the internet for at least some of the four versions of the card even after the public offers are down. However, the easiest and safest play if you were planning to get these cards in the near term is to simply pull the trigger before they reportedly go back down to the 25,000 point level at some point tomorrow.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.