Southwest Raises the Bar to Earn Companion Pass; Points Stop Expiring

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Southwest Raises the Bar to Earn Companion Pass; Points Stop Expiring

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Southwest Airlines is making it harder to earn its insanely lucrative Companion Pass starting in 2020, requiring flyers to earn more points to get this buy one, get one pass.

The airline currently requires travelers to earn 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points within a year – or fly 100 segments – to get the pass. According to View from the Wing, that will increase to 125,000 points as of Jan. 1, 2020.

And that stings. The Companion Pass is one of the best deals in miles and points, as there's no limit to how many times you can use it. Buy a ticket, and get a second ticket for free – you just pay the taxes and fees. Once you earn it, it's good for the rest of that year plus the entire following calendar year.

While a 15,000-point bump to the requirement may seem marginal, it's still a bummer – especially for travelers who were looking to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for almost two full years by waiting until early 2020 to earn all the points. Now, that bar is even higher.

And unfortunately, this is just the latest development that makes it harder to earn the Companion Pass. While earning points via Southwest's co-branded Chase credit cards is still the easiest route, Chase made that much harder last year by adding restrictions to who can open those cards. Now, you can't open a new personal Southwest credit card if you already have another personal card – or have earned the bonus on one within the last 24 months.

That means the only feasible way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is to open both a personal and a business version of their credit cards. Of course, Chase's 5/24 rule complicates that even further.


Points Will Stop Expiring

There is a spot of bright news here for Southwest travelers. Effective immediately, Southwest Rapid Rewards Points will never expire!

Previously, your stash of Southwest points would expire after 24 months of inactivity. That's no longer the case, and that's an unequivocal win for travelers.

Southwest is following United's latest move – the Chicago-based airline announced in August that its miles would no longer expire. Delta SkyMiles also don't expire, nor do miles with JetBlue.


Bottom Line

This is a mixed bag of good and bad news. But on the whole, it's a tough day for Southwest fans and flyers.

While an additional 15,000 points to earn the Companion Pass isn't the end of the world, it just keeps getting harder and harder.


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