Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass – Buy One Flight & Get One Free

Every year, around late-October/November, I like to remind my readers that NOW is the time to start working to get your Southwest Companion Pass. This is the #1 way I save money on travel each year.  Around this time, Southwest Airlines partners with Blue Bank to offer credit cards with large Welcome bonuses that help you achieve that Companion Pass status. My husband and I have had this Companion Pass for the last 14 years.  We have saved thousands of dollars on airfare and traveled to places like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Belize, Hawaii, Turks & Caicos, Costa Rica, and California ALL FOR FREE!

Let me break it down for you:


So what exactly is the Southwest Companion Pass?

It’s by far the best travel deal out there.  With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you FOR FREE on your paid and point/award tickets for up to 2 years!  For the past 14 years, each time I book a Southwest flight using my points, I add my husband as my companion (or vise versa), and he travels with me for free! Since I use my points to purchase tickets (instead of dollars), it’s like Buy “NONE” Get One Free!

Once you obtain a Southwest Companion Pass, it will not expire until the end of the next calendar year. For example, if you obtain the Companion Pass in February of 2024, your Companion Pass will not expire until December 31, 2025.

Hot Tip: It is best to obtain your Companion Pass at the earliest possible date of any given calendar year so that it will remain in effect for the maximum amount of time (i.e. up to 2 years).

Southwest Companion Pass

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How do you get the Southwest Companion Pass?

To qualify for the pass, you’ll need to earn 135,000 eligible Southwest points in a calendar year. 

As a general rule, Southwest Airlines will give you reward points when you either use cash to book a flight OR when you use a Southwest credit card to make purchases. Generally, you get 1 point for every dollar you spend on the credit card. Therefore, the program requires a person to either spend A LOT of money on a Southwest credit card ($135,000 to be exact), or book A LOT of flights (or some combination of both) in one calendar year to organically earn a Southwest Companion Pass. This way, Southwest rewards only those who fly often or spend a lot on their credit card.

Under this system, I would NEVER be able to qualify for a Companion Pass myself.

BUT THERE IS A SECRET TO GET AROUND THIS!

Step 1:

You will need a southwest member rewards number. It’s easy, and free, to open an account on Southwest.com to get your Southwest Member Rewards Number.

Step 2:

Earning 135,000 points in a single calendar year may seem like a significant challenge. But it can actually be done quite easily. The trick is to apply for 2 credit cards that offer large point bonuses.

Around mid-October each year, Southwest begins advertising special bonus offers for opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards Personal Card and the Southwest Small Business Credit card.  Right now, the Southwest Plus Card (click link to apply) is offering 50,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.  And the Southwest Performance Business card (click link to apply) is offering 80,000 Southwest points after meeting the minimum spend requirement.



THE SECRET to Getting the Southwest Companion Pass

So the trick is to apply for, and receive, both Southwest credit cards. Spend the required amounts and receive a total of 136K bonus points (after you meet the min spend).  And Voila!

(If you don’t have a Business, with a separate tax id, there are numerous ways you can apply as a sole proprietor. (If you make $50 a year selling your kid’s clothes (or anything) on Facebook Marketplace, you are eligible. Check out this helpful article for all the ways you could be eligible for Business cards.

Southwest Companion Pass

Timing your Bonus Points is KEY!

So, first, open your Southwest Account. Second, open the two credit cards. Third, spend the required amount of money on each card to receive your bonus. But NOT TOO FAST!

VERY IMPORTANT- In order to get TWO full years of the pass, you want to make sure that the final dollar of the required threshold spent for the sign-up bonuses, is spent in January 2024. Not before this year-end!

If you get this card in October or November, you don’t want the bonuses to hit your account until JANUARY 2024! You want the points to hit in January of the NEXT Calendar Year because once you get the Companion Pass, it lasts the rest of that calendar year and the entire next calendar year.  If you spend the required threshold before year end, then you will only have the Companion Pass for what’s left of 2023 and all of 2024.  Sorry to beat a dead horse, but obviously, it’s better to get the Companion Pass for two years instead of only one year!

Southwest Companion Pass

A few final things to consider up front:

  1. This points thing is not for everyone!  So before you start applying for credit cards, you might read my Free Beginner Guide to Earning points . It is so important to be able to pay your credit card bills IN FULL every single month.
  2. The Southwest cards will charge the annual fees Up front!  So keep in mind you will be paying anywhere from $95-$199 up front to have both cards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.  In my opinion, that’s totally worth it compared to what you will save on travel in the years ahead.
  3. They don’t always approve your Business card immediately. Two years ago, I applied for a Southwest business credit card and was initially turned down.  I called the bank and explained that I was trying to keep my personal and business expenses separate. They reconsidered and approved me having both the personal AND the business card application. So just keep in mind, you may need to follow up with a call.

Finally, you can still go for this in January or February of each year to get ALMOST 2 years. However, after that I would save this post to your calendar for your reminder in October. I will have all the CURRENT offers ready in the link above for your use!

As Always, Happy & Safe Travels!

You might also like : Manuel Antonio Costa Rica Vacation with a baby  or Isla Mujeres, Mexico Family Travel Guide 

Editorial Disclaimer:  Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. They have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by the partners mentioned. The editorial content and/or comments on this site are NOT provided by the companies whose products are featured.

2 comments

  1. Gail Mauss

    Lauren, I am confused. If you go for the card with offered bonus points in October of 2019, and use it for travel in the last 3 months of 2019, won’t those points you earned in 2019 be washed away? I thought you wrote that the points need to be earned in the calendar year, so isn’t that Jan to Jan and then cleared away each Jan. 1st? Please explain this so I can understand better. Asking as I started my card last Oct. 2018 so wondering if my points will be wiped clean in January . Gail

    1. Lauren

      Hi Gail, You won’t lose your points, but them counting towards your companion pass does start over in January. So yes, you want the bonus to HIT in January, not in October thru December. If you started your card in October 2018, ideally you waited for the bonus to hit in January 2019 and then received your companion pass shortly after. If you received your bonus points before the end of 2018, and got your companion pass in 2018, then the pass will only last until the end of 2019.

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