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Great news for those who love to fly on points – the Southwest credit cards are all back to the 50,000 point sign-up level! These cards have publicly been at the 25,000 point level for a little while, so I’m thrilled to see them hop back up to this higher level. Not only does that mean you get twice the number of points to redeem for Southwest flights, but it also means you can be that much closer to the very valuable Southwest Companion Pass.
I think this is extra awesome in light of the new international routes Southwest has just announced!
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months; $99 annual fee with 6,000 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Premier Business Card: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months; $99 annual fee with 6,000 anniversary bonus points
Southwest Plus Card: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months; $69 annual fee with 3,000 anniversary bonus points
Some savvy travelers like to not only use the credit card sign-up bonus points for lots of Southwest award travel, but also to help get the 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points needed in a calendar year needed to earn a Southwest Companion Pass.
As you may already know, 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 (other than taxes) with the pass holder on all Southwest flights for potentially close to two years, depending on when you earn the pass.
The Companion Pass because it is good the year you earn it and all of the following year. Earning a Companion Pass now would mean it is good until December 31, 2016.
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.
Who Can Get the Sign-up Bonuses:
Keep in mind that the terms state that the bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the past 24 months. However, all three 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. In my recent searches, a Southwest point is normally worth close to 1.25 – 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 worth double that amount.
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 would be quite valuable if you are redeeming them for flights for you + 1 using the Companion Pass…assuming 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 points loss in the conversion 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.
Whether you want to try for the Companion Pass or just get hundreds of dollars in award travel from a sign-up bonus, be aware that all three versions of the Southwest card are now back to the 50,000 point offers without needing to be targeted or referred.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.