Now’s the time to plan your Southwest Companion Pass Strategy

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It’s not quite yet time to apply, but it’s time to start planning.

For those of you that love Southwest, there is NO REASON for you not to have a Companion Pass where you designate a companion that flies free with you (only paying taxes) for the year.  You can easily save THOUSANDS in a year with this.  Once earned, you’ll have the status for the rest of the year and the next calendar year as well, so if you do it at the start of a calendar year (now!), you can get two full years!

Let’s talk timing: 

When you qualify for the Companion Pass, you earn it for that calendar year AND the following calendar year. Meaning that if you earned it in October 2018, you’d have it for 15 months (Oct-Dec 2018 and all of 2019). But if you qualify in January 2019, you would have it for 24 months, as it would be valid all the way through December 2020.

The way you get this status level is 100 flights or 110,000 Rapid Rewards points earned in a calendar year.

Yes, that’s a lot. BUT, what if you could just sign up for 2 credit cards, spend $2k-$3k on each (within 3 months), and get the pass right then and there?

That’s a lot more doable, isn’t it?

Right now the Business version of the Southwest credit card has a signup offer for 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months. (Apply for Business Credit Cards)

Both of the Personal versions of the card (Priority and Plus) have an offer for 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in 3 months. (Apply for Airline Credit Cards)

That gives you 105,000 points (bonus + spend), leaving you needing just 5,000 points. It’s possible one of the personal cards could see an increased signup offer between now and November/December, though.

And the perfect time to apply is November/December based on how long you need to meet all the minimum spends. But one VERY important thing to keep in mind is that you absolutely can not hit your minimum spends for the bonuses in this calendar year. Don’t even get super close. Make sure that you hit those minimum spends in January. If you hit even one of them early, it will post in 2018 and kill the deal. Once you apply, you’ll have 90 days to complete the spend.

The only way to do this is with one business card and one personal card. It’s no longer possible to get two personal Southwest credit cards.

  • If you qualify for a business card (and remember, you can have a small home business with almost no revenue and you can qualify for this card) you just need the two cards – one personal and one business. When you hit your minimum spend, you get the Companion Pass. Note that if you do this, apply for the Business card first and then the Personal card – just in case you are at 4/24 (of 5/24) with Chase already as the Business card won’t count against you.
  • If you need a few more points: That could be $1,000 (or less) on Southwest flights or a combination of that and things like car rentals, Rewards Network dining, flowers, etc (just make sure you use the associated links (i.e Southwest shopping portal) to earn your Rapids Rewards points!).  That Rewards Network dining portal, by the way, is giving 1,000 bonus points for your first $25 dine… but be aware that the portal bonuses won’t count – only points earned from actual dining and shopping. Southwest specifies only “base” points from partners like shopping and dining count.

Questions? Ask me –  on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.  I’ll be trying it out myself in late January. 

New to all of this? My new “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available now.