The Southwest Companion Pass – Buy One Flight & Get One Free
Every year, around mid-October, I like to remind my readers that NOW is the time to start working to get your Southwest Companion Pass. This pass is THE Top/Very Best way I save my family money on travel each year. It is usually around mid-October, that Southwest Airlines partners with Chase to offer credit cards with large point bonuses that help you achieve that Companion Pass status. My husband and I have had this Companion Pass for the last eight years. We have saved thousands of dollars on airfare and traveled to places like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Belize, 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 7 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), I like to call it 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 2020, your Companion Pass will not expire until December 31, 2021.
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).
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How do you get the Southwest Companion Pass?
To qualify for the pass, you’ll need to earn 125,000 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 ($110,000 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!
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.
Earning 125,000 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 Chase Southwest Small Business Credit card. Right now, the Southwest Plus Card (click link to apply) is offering 40,000 Southwest points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. And the Chase Southwest Small Business card (click link to apply) is offering up to 100,000 Southwest points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening the card.
THE SECRET (shhhhh!)
So the trick is to apply for, and receive, both Southwest credit cards. Spend the required amounts and receive a total of 100k – 140k bonus points plus your 6,000 for spending. Voila! You are either only 6,000 points away from your 125,000 goal, or if you earned the full 140k, you’re there!
(If you don’t have a Business, with a seperate tax id, I recommend opening an additional personal
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! KEY- 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 2020. Not before year-end!
If you get this card in October or November, you don’t want the bonuses to hit your account until JANUARY 2020! 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 2020 and all of 2021. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but obviously, it’s better to get the Companion Pass for two years instead of only one year!
A few final things to consider up front:
- Playing the Points Game is not for everyone! So before you start applying for credit cards, read my points page for some baby steps on entering the game. If you don’t pay your credit card off IN FULL every month, this game is not for you!
- Chase charges the annual fees to the cards up front! So keep in mind you will be paying about $200 up front to have both cards. In my opinion, that’s totally worth it compared to what you will save on travel in the years ahead.
- You need a business with a separate tax ID (different from your social). Also note that 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 Chase 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.
Finally, you will want to APPLY SOON! There is a chance the sign-up bonus offers will expire in the coming weeks. Chase doesn’t offer these bonuses for long. You can apply here through Southwest and Chase.com.
Feel free to comment below with any questions or quick tips for others.
As Always, Happy & Safe Travels!
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