Southwest Airline Companion Pass

How I fly “Buy NONE Get One Free” all year long with Southwest

It’s that time of year again!! Time to get your Southwest Airlines Companion Pass!  This is the best tip I can offer anyone when it comes to playing the points game. Will and I have had this Companion Pass for the last five years.  We have saved thousands of dollars on airfare and traveled to places like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and California all for free.


So what exactly is this 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 5 years, each time I book a Southwest flight using my points, I add my husband as my companion, 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 2019, your Companion Pass will not expire until December 31, 2020.

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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Ok, so how do you get this Fabulous Little Pass??

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

Second, you will need to qualify for the pass. To qualify for the pass, you’ll need to earn 110,000 eligible Southwest points in a calendar year. Earning 110,000 points in a single calendar year may seem like a significant challenge. But it can actually be done quite easily. 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.

So the way the program is set up requires a person to spend A LOT of money on a credit card. Or book A LOT of flights (or some combination of both) in one calendar year to organically earn a 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.


Shhhh…There’s a secret to getting the 110,000 points quickly!

Around this time (October) each year, Southwest begins advertising special bonus offers for opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card and the Chase Southwest Premier 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 Premier Small Business card (click link to apply) is offering 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening the card.

So the trick is to apply for, and receive, both Southwest cards. Spend the required amounts and receive a total of 100,000 bonus points plus your 4,000 for spending.  Voila! You are now only 6,000 points away from your 110k goal.

(If you don’t have a Business, with a seperate tax id, I recommend this card (click link). This Chase Sapphire Card is offering 50,000 points and the points transfer to Southwest.)

Southwest Companion Pass

Timing of 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 and receive your bonus. But not too fast!

There is a trick to how you want to earn the bonuses. Credit card bonuses almost always work something like this; spend $2K or $3K in the first three months after receiving the card and you get the bonus.

So if you get this card in October or November, you don’t want to get these bonuses too quickly. The reason is that you don’t want to get the bonuses until the beginning of the next calendar year. Remember, once you get the Companion Pass, it lasts the rest of that calendar year and the entire next calendar year.  If you get the Companion Pass at the end of 2018, then you will only have the Companion Pass for what’s left of 2018 and all of 2019. On the other hand, if you wait until January of 2019 to get the bonuses, then you will have the Companion Pass for most of 2019 and all of 2020.  In a nutshell, you want to get the Companion Pass for two years instead of only one year!

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 2019. Not before year-end!

Southwest Companion Pass

A few final things to consider up front:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. You need a business with a seperate tax ID than 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.
  4. There are other ways to accumulate the 110,000 points to reach the pass.  But earning the sign-up bonuses through the Chase southwest credit cards is by far the easiest way to get there!  You will want to apply soon, though!  There is a chance the sign-up bonus offers will expire. 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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