southwest companion pass credit cards
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Each year, the last couple of months of the year – and the beginning of the next year – is what I call “Southwest Companion Pass Season

The Southwest Companion Pass is easily one of the most valuable things in miles and points, especially for those focused on as much domestic coach travel as possible for as little money as possible.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to bring a companion on all of your flights for free (just pay taxes and fees) an unlimited amount of times. The Companion Pass includes both paid and award tickets, which is pretty amazing.

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You are allowed to change the eligible Companion 3 times per year on a Companion Pass. The only catch is that you can’t change to a new companion while you still have an un-flown ticket with the last one (unless you cancel it).

Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest Companion Pass

When Should I Get the Southwest Companion Pass?

I’ll get into all of the details on timing below, but this is the important part:

The Southwest Companion Pass is valid for all of the year that you earn it plus the entire next year. If you were to earn the Companion Pass on January 15th, 2021, you would have that Companion Pass through December 31st, 2022!

Let’s say you fly once a month and use the Companion Pass each time on a an average fare of $250 round trip (before taxes and fees, for simplicity).

If you had the pass for a full two years, that would mean that the Southwest Companion Pass was worth an insane $6,000 to you.

How Do You Earn the Southwest Companion Pass?

For context and for those that don’t know, the Southwest Companion Pass is earned when you accrue 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (it used to be 110,000, but that changed in 2020) from certain sources which include flying (obviously) and points earned from credit card bonuses and spend (but not when you transfer points from programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards into Southwest).

melio

But this site is all about credit card rewards, along with miles and points, and that’s where I’m headed.

As long as you can qualify for a business credit card (See: Do You Need a Business to Qualify and Apply for a Business Credit Card?), then there is a very easy strategy to get the Companion Pass.

As long as you are still under 5/24¬†(you’ve opened less than a total of 5 personal credit cards in the last 24 months), you can apply for one Southwest Business credit card and then either a second Southwest Business credit card OR a personal Southwest credit card.

(Quick reminder note on 5/24: both personal and business Capital One or Discover cards count against this limit, although not new Capital One Spark Cash cards opened in November 2020 or later.)

In all cases, you’ll apply for the business card first, both because it has the bigger bonus and because it won’t count against that 5/24, so this Companion Pass strategy works even if you are 4/24 now.

Timing and Order of Opening the Southwest Credit Cards to Get 2 Years of Companion Pass

There are five¬†Southwest Airlines Credit Cards. You’ll only need to open two, though, to put this plan into action and earn the Companion Pass.

The first thing I want to say is the most important part of this plan…

The reason we start now is so that you can maximize your Companion Pass. This Companion Pass will be good until the end of the year AFTER the year you earn it, meaning that if you earn it early in a calendar year, you’ll be getting almost two full years of Companion Pass.

The most crucial point, which I’ll emphasize again later, is that even if you get the card now, you must take great care that you do not fulfill your final minimum spend requirement until after January 1st, 2021. If you earn it in December of this year by accident, you’ll wind up losing one full year of the Companion Pass.

Let’s begin…

southwest companion pass credit cards

The Southwest Performance Business Credit Card has an offer on now for 70,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and a total of 100,000 bonus points if you can spend $25,000 within 6 months. That is a whopper of a bonus and an integral part of this plan.  If you could hit the $25,000 in spend, the 100,000 bonus points plus the 25,000 points you would earn from spend would qualify you for a Southwest Companion Pass until Dec 31, 2022 in one shot!

Alternatively, you can get the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card which will give you 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within 3 months. The annual fee on the Premier Business Credit Card is $99 less, though you get 10,000 less bonus points.

southwest companion pass credit card

We’ll then want to wait 32 days (or just over a month to make it simple) andthen (unless you did the 100,000 bonus point “big spend” bonus offer on the Performance Business Card, in which case you are already done when you include points for spending!) apply for either the other Chase Southwest Business card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, which is offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months (or the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card¬†if you chose the Premier card above), or one of the three personal Southwest credit cards:

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card (Annual Fee: $69)

southwest plus
Southwest Plus Credit Card
  • Up to 80,000 Rapid Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in 3 months plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 in your first 9 months.
  • Also: Get 5 points per $1 that you spend on Southwest between¬†12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 – on up to $2,000 in spend per month.

 

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card (Annual Fee: $99)

southwest premier
Southwest Premier Credit Card
  • Up to 80,000 Rapid Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in 3 months plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 in your first 9 months.
  • Also: Get 5 points per $1 that you spend on Southwest between¬†12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 – on up to $2,000 in spend per month.

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card (Annual Fee: $149)

southwest priority
Southwest Priority Credit Card
  • Up to 80,000 Rapid Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in 3 months plus an additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 in your first 9 months.
  • Also: Get 5 points per $1 that you spend on Southwest between¬†12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 – on up to $2,000 in spend per month.

(Yes, all three personal Southwest cards have the same bonus offer. You just have to pick which card makes the most sense for you. You can also compare benefits between all three cards here).

The Math on Combining Southwest Credit Card Bonuses for Companion Pass X 2 Years

If you got the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card (and only did the first bonus tier for 70,000 points) and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you would have 138,000 Companion Pass qualifying Rapid Rewards points after meeting minimum spend = earn the Companion Pass!

Or, combine the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card (70,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in 3 months = 75,000 points including the points earned while meeting the minimum spend) plus any personal card (50,000 bonus points for $2,000 spend = 52,000 total Companion Pass qualifying points) to get you to 127,000 Companion Pass qualifying points = earn the Companion Pass!

If you were short, you could boost your balance with things like¬†Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels¬†– but as you can see with the math above, that won’t be necessary for this Companion Pass strategy unless you only got one of the cards.

Alternatively, combine the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card¬†(60,000 bonus points) plus any personal card base bonus (50,000) to get you to 115,000¬†Companion Pass qualifying points (that’s adding in $5,000 in combined minimum spend for the bonuses) and then earn 10,000 more from flying, Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels (Powered by RocketMiles) = earn the Companion Pass!

If you hit the “second tier” in the personal bonus offer (the additional 30,000 points after spending $10,000 in your first 9 months), then you don’t need to do anything else as you’d be well over what you need on the bonuses alone for the Companion Pass.

All have annual fees (the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card‘s fee is $199 and then the lowest second card fee would be $69 for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card).

For that reason I’d suggest that even if you’ll only hit the first bonus tier level, it still makes more sense to get the ¬†Southwest Performance Business Credit Card¬†with 70,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and then a personal card. That would net you a minimum of 127,000 points after hitting the bonuses, (more if any purchases were on Southwest since the Southwest credit cards all earn a bonus multiplier on Southwest spend) achieving the Companion Pass with no other spend or flying!

Now, I know that got confusing, so let’s go step-by-step…

A Simple to Follow Plan to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass with Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

Step 1:

As soon as possible, apply for the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card so you can earn 70,000 points when you spend $5,000 within 3 months (and a total of 100,000 bonus points if you can spend $25,000 within 6 months) OR the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, which is offering 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

Step 2:

Then,¬†depending on how long you’ll need to spend required amount for your bonus on the first card, apply for your second card, but I recommend waiting at least 32 days between applications if you get two business credit cards. If you get a business and a personal, you don’t have to wait – but get the Business credit card first.

Again this can be any of the four other Southwest credit cards:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (annual fee of $99, 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months) РOR the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card if you started with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Sign Up Bonus Offer: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Sign Up Bonus Offer: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Sign Up Bonus Offer: Earn 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months.

Now, under the current bonus offers, if you get a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card¬†and any of the personal credit cards, you’ll only be at 117,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and you’ll still need to get 8,000 more points (from flying or other methods like Rapid Rewards Shopping and Dining).

So again, even if you’ll only hit the first bonus tier level, it still makes more sense to get the¬†Southwest Performance Business Credit Card¬†with 70,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and then a personal Southwest credit card.

I’ll recommend that you bookmark this post and send yourself a calendar invite to remind yourself when you are due to apply for that second card.

NOTE: You used to be able to open two personal cards. Chase will no longer approve you for a second personal Southwest card. So you may have heard that is a thing, but it’s no longer a thing….

Step 3:

Step 3 is to meet your minimum spends for both cards anytime after January 1, 2021, though before your bonus offer period ends. 

Once you meet it and your next statement closes, those points will be in your Rapid Rewards account and you’ll earn the Companion Pass.

At that point, you’ll have the Companion Pass for nearly two full years.

If you have ANY questions, please ask me before you begin this Companion Pass strategy

Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards. 

New to all of this? My ‚Äúintroduction to miles and points‚ÄĚ book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

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I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.

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