The Master Guide to Earning & Using the Southwest Companion Pass
We’re not ashamed to admit it: We love Southwest Airlines.
From their commitment to avoiding basic economy to their generous policy on change and cancelation fees, they just do things differently than most airlines – and that’s a good thing.
And you won’t find a better deal in the world of points and miles than the Southwest Companion Pass. It is the most lucrative companion pass issued from any airline – and it isn’t close. If you regularly fly domestically (including Hawaii) or even to Mexico and the Carribean with a companion, this unlimited buy-one, get-one pass can be invaluable.
We’ll walk you through how you can earn it, how to best use it, and why you should want the Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass from Southwest Airlines lets you choose one person to fly free with you every time you purchase a flight or redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points for a flight on Southwest. There are no blackout dates and no questions asked. If the flight is bookable, you can add your companion.
Every flight booked with the Companion Pass, you need only pay for taxes and fees ($11.20 round trip on domestic flights) for your companion. And that’s the case regardless of whether you pay cash for your ticket or book with Rapid Rewards points.
But perhaps the best part of the Southwest companion pass is there are no limits on how often you can use the Companion Pass. And it’s valid for the year you earn it … and the entire following calendar year. So if you earn it in January or February of 2020, you could use the Companion Pass it all the way through 2021. That’s almost a full two years.
Finally, Southwest allows you to change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year. This can be done over the phone with a Southwest customer service agent, although it can take a few days (or even weeks) to take effect. You may even be able to change your companion by messaging Southwest via Twitter.
How Can I Earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
A year (or even two?!) of BOGO flights? It’s not too good to be true. And while earning the Companion Pass does require some effort, it can certainly be done.
In order to earn the coveted Southwest companion pass, you need to either earn 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points or fly 100 one-way revenue flights in a calendar year. That means flights booked with Southwest points won’t qualify.
But either way, it’s not as bad as it sounds. While 125,000 points might sound like a lot, the points you earn from a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card sign-up bonus count towards that total. And seeing as those cards are out with welcome bonuses of 75,000 points, now is a great time to map out your gameplan to earn the Companion Pass.
Method #1: Sign Up Bonuses From Southwest Credit Cards
Read closely: This is the easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
To earn the 125,000 miles necessary to unlock the Companion Pass, all you need to do is sign up for two of the Chase co-branded Southwest Airlines credit cards. The miles earned from those credit card sign-up bonuses count towards your requirements. But there’s one hitch.
Chase bank restricts you from holding more than one of the Southwest personal credit cards. That means that the easiest way to earn the Companion Pass is by getting one of the personal Southwest card and one Southwest business card.
If you aren’t eligible to open a Chase business card, this method won’t work. Keep in mind that you don’t need to own a massive corporation to be eligible: If you own or are starting even a small business (without an official structure), you may be able to get approved for a Chase business card. That said, Chase is more strict than some others with their business card application approvals.
And there are other caveats to keep in mind.
For starters, you won’t be able to earn a sign-up bonus on one of the Southwest personal cards if you have earned a sign-up bonus on any of the three Southwest Airlines personal credit cards in the past 24 months.
Finally, all of the Chase co-branded Southwest Airlines credit cards fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you have more than five new credit accounts within the last 24 months, you will be declined for a new Chase card – regardless of your credit score or history with Chase bank.
Check out the full listing all Southwest personal and business credit cards. You will need to open one of each.
Click Here to get more details on the Southwest Priority Credit Card.
Click Here to get more details on the Southwest Premier Credit Card.
Click Here to get more details on the Southwest Plus Credit Card.
Click Here to get more information on the Southwest Performance Business Card.
Click Here to get more information on the Southwest Performance Business Card.
Earning Method #2: Be a Southwest Frequent Flyer
Frequent Southwest flyers can also earn the Companion Pass by flying 100 one-way revenue flights in a single calendar year. Regardless of how many Rapid Rewards points you earn on these flights, hitting that 100-flight threshold will unlock the Companion Pass.
For example, a paid, round-trip flight with a connection each way counts as two total segments toward the Companion Pass.
This certainly isn’t the easiest way to earn your Companion Pass – I would guess that more than 90% of Companion Pass holders earned it through credit card sign-up bonuses. But this is still a strong option for Southwest Airlines road warriors.
Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers Count Towards Companion Pass?
Southwest credit cards aren’t the only way to pile up Southwest Rapid Rewards points fast.
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Southwest account from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. These points transfer on a 1:1 basis, so every 1,000 Chase points will net you 1,000 Southwest points.
Unfortunately, these transfers will not count toward the 125,000 points you need to earn the Companion.
That doesn’t mean these transfers are useless. Once you’ve earned your pass, you can transfer Chase points to Southwest to book a flight, then add your companion for only the cost of the taxes and fees.
Other Ways to Earn Miles Eligible Towards Earning a Companion Pass
Though credit card sign-up bonuses are the easiest way to get to the required 125,000 miles needed to earn the companion pass, there are a few other points-earning methods that will count towards earning it.
For starters, any miles earned from referrals of any of the Southwest credit cards mentioned above will count towards the 125,000 points needed to earn the pass. And being you can earn up to 10,000 miles for reach referral (capped at 55,000 each year), these can add up quickly.
Additionally, both the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal, and Rapid Rewards Dining Portal will count towards your 125,000 point total. We are a huge fan of shopping and dining portals as they allow you to earn additional points and miles for spending you are going to do anyhow.
You can also earn companion pass eligible Southwest Rapid Rewards points by booking hotels through Southwest Hotels. Generally speaking, you will earn one Southwest point per dollar you spend on hotels. But you can also find bonuses like the one pictured below.
Finally, you can even earn companion pass eligible miles by renting a car through one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards rental car partners.
If you are only a few thousand points short of earning your Southwest Companion Pass, these methods can be a great option to get you over the 125,000 point hump.
Using Your Southwest Companion Pass
Most airlines limit how you can use a companion certificate – how often you can use it, where you can fly. Southwest isn’t like that.
The Companion Pass is eligible for unlimited flights – both domestic and international. And while Southwest doesn’t have a huge international route network, you can use it to fly you and your companion all over the U.S., Mexico, the Carribean, and even the airline’s new flights to Hawaii.
Compare that with an airline like Delta, which limits companion certificates to one use and domestic locations only.
Whether you are paying cash or using Southwest points to book your ticket, use the Southwest Low Fare calendar to find the best deal. Once you book, you can simply add your companion for just the price of taxes and fees an unlimited number of times each year you hold the pass.
If you pay cash for your ticket, only you will earn Southwest points on the flight. Your companion will not be eligible to earn miles.
Check out Southwest’s Route Search Tool here to see everywhere the airline flies.
There really is no better deal in the points and miles world than the Southwest Companion Pass.
If you can earn it at the beginning of a year, you will enjoy the benefits for almost two full years. Seeing as it’s early 2020 and Southwest is out with credit card bonuses that are as high as ever, why not start your march to the Companion Pass now?
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