southwest companion pass credit cards
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This article is designed to help you get Companion Pass for all of 2022 and 2023. This means not actually earning it until at least January of 2022, but that makes NOW a good time to start the process, as I’ll outline below.


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.

If you are in a cash crunch, you should avoid travel rewards credit cards until you are caught up. Here are our favorite credit cards for Intro 0% APR offers and for balance transfer offers

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.

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, 2022, you would have that Companion Pass through December 31st, 2023!

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).

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 new Capital One Spark Cash Plus cards opened in November 2020 or later which don’t report to your personal credit.)

In all cases, you’ll apply for the business card first, both because it has the bigger initial bonus and because it won’t count against your 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 minimum spend requirement (that includes the first bonus out of two tiers on the personal cards, until after January 1st, 2022.

If you earn any threshold bonuses in December of this year by accident, you’ll wind up losing one full year of the Companion Pass – because those points would count towards 2021 and not 2022.

Let’s begin…

southwest companion pass credit cards

The Southwest Performance Business Credit Card has an offer on now for 80,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months. That is a whopper of a bonus and an integral part of this plan.

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 20,000 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) and then 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

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

southwest premier
Southwest Premier Credit Card

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

southwest priority
Southwest Priority Credit Card

(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 Southwest credit 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 (for 80,000 points) and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you would have 140,000 Companion Pass qualifying Rapid Rewards points after meeting minimum spend = earn the Companion Pass!

Or, combine the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card (80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in 3 months = 85,000 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 blow away your requirement to 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 + 50,000 for both bonus tiers) to get you to Companion Pass.

If you only picked up one card, you could get the rest by flying or via  Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels (Powered by RocketMiles) = earn 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 80,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and then a personal card. That would net you more than enough qualifying points, 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 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 within 3 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.

If you aren’t eligible for a business card, you can grab 100,000 points off a personal card and earn the balance from spend and flights, but in this case I recommend you open that personal card near the end of November 2021 (the bonus offer lasts through the first week of December). This is because the threshold for the first bonus is only $2,000 and you don’t want to cut that too fine….

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) – OR 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:

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Sign Up Bonus Offer:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Sign Up Bonus Offer:

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 have 125,000 points ++ and earn have Companion Pass through Dec 2022.

But still, it still makes more sense to get the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card with 80,000 Rapid Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months and then a personal Southwest credit card, which nails it in one shot.

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 the first (and second, if applicable) card anytime after January 1, 2022, though before your bonus offer period ends.  (If you are flying SW or otherwise earning SW points, those will add to your total in the year flown, so any flights in 2022 will reduce what you need.)

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.

You don’t want to make a mistake. It’s always better to ask for clarification than to make a mistake here.

Just remember: you don’t want to pass ANY bonus thresholds on your cards that earn the signup bonus points until 2022 as any points earned in 2021 will count for 2021 and you’ll have to start over in 2022.

Please remember that if you want to support MilesTalk when you apply for your Southwest credit card, you can use our links here.

Questions?

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

And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!

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 “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.

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.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Can I earn two companion passes at the same time? If I get the personal card and get the pass until 2022, can I also earn 125,000 points partially with the business card and earn a 2nd companion pass. Would this allow me to book 2 companions on one flight?

    • Hi Kim. Sorry, but you can only earn one Companion Pass at a time. For 2021 only, you can earn it with just 100,000 points though – and valid through Dec 2022. So, one SW Performance card would do it!

  2. Thanks for this article. So, say I want to get the c.p. starting early 2022, so I can have it until the end of 2023. Can I sign up for and meet my minimum on the performance business card in 2021, say around Aug or Sept., and then apply for the personal card in Oct./Nov. and meet the m.s. after Jan. 1, 2022 to get to the 125K points? Or do both cards min. spends need to be met in the same calendar year? Thanks!

    • So glad you are asking now, before starting 🙂 It’s the latter.

      You need to earn all 125k in one calendar year and then you earn it for that year and the following year. So if you want it for 2022/2023, you can’t complete the minimum spend on any cards until Jan 2022.

      You can apply for the first one late in the year and, for example, if the spend requirement was $5,000, you could spend $4,500 in December and then finish the requirement in January and then get the second card. That would maximize the CP.

  3. Hi Dave, I’m currently at 32,315 points. Is it possible to sign up for only the Performance Biz Card late in the year, and hit the 125,000 points in late December, but earn Companion Pass for 2022/2023? Trying to see if I can avoid signing up for two cards. Thanks!

  4. Hi Dave, I’m currently at 32,315 points. Is it possible to sign up for only the Performance Biz Card late in the year, and hit the 125,000 points in late December, but earn Companion Pass for 2022/2023? Trying to see if I can avoid signing up for two cards. Thanks!!

    • Unfortunately not! The points don’t rollover from year to year. So if you earn the bonus for the Performance in Jan 2022, those will count for the 2022/2023 CP timeframe, but what you have now will not….

  5. Hi Dave, I currently have 23,105 points. I also have the southwest plus card and added my husband,

    Can my husband apply for his own personal and business card to get the 125,000 points for the Companion Pass for Jan 2022? if not, what do you suggest. Thank you!

    • Hi Maritza,

      To be clear your accumulated points only count towards CP if earned in the current year.

      Being a user on your card has no impact on his ability to get CP as you describe with two cards. Just make sure he’s under 5/24 and note that if he is 4/24 then you’ll need to call Chase reconsideration after he gets auto-declined to have them manually not count that.

      But the direct answer is that he can absolutely get the cards and his own CP which if earned this year will be valid through Dec 2022.

      If his Rapid Rewards account was open in 2020, he only needs 100k points this year to qualify.

      Have him apply for the Biz card first. And please use the links in this post to apply 🙂

  6. Hi, Dave:
    Current program 40k points if signed up for a credit card by mid Sept. I am trying to get the companion fare based on personal card only, no business card. I wanted to confirm my understanding that if I sign up for the current program, I should be careful not to rack up the balance of 60k points from now till end of Dec (taking into account the 25k gifted points) but instead defer spending till the first week of Jan for the last 5-10k points of the 60k points. Trying to understand the timing and taking advantage of the current program. Thank you.

    • Hi Veronica,

      Unfortunately not. You need to earn the full amount of qualifying points in one year. 100k this year or (presumably) the normal 125k again next year.

      If you already have 40k, you could get one card and get CP for the rest of this year and all of next year.

      Or, if you meet a bonus in Jan 2022, you need to get the remainder in 2022 to have through 2023. Hope that makes sense!

  7. Hi Dave,
    If I am not getting a new SW card for this strategy (I have about 100k points just from expenses and rapid rewards alone) and hit my 125K points in 2021, does that mean I only have 2022 to use my companion pass?

  8. Hi Dave!
    I just got the business card, and 80,000 points. So now I am debating getting a personal card. I know you speak of calendar year, will I need to hit the 125,000 points before Dec2021?? I was hoping to qualify in Jan 20222 so that I could maximize the companion pass time.

    • Your points reset each calendar year. So you have 80,000 points now and need 20,000 more (assuming you had your SW RR account open last year) to get Companions Pass now through Dec 31, 2022. The requirement was reduced for 2021 only.

      If you didn’t get more points until January 2022, your balance would have reset to zero on Jan 1, 2022. So you’d then need 125,000 points total in 2022 to have CP through Dec 2023.

      In short, no, that won’t work 😉

  9. Hi Dave,
    So just clarifying, if I want to earn the CP for 2022 and 2023, I just need to get 125k points posted in January 2022 from a SW business card promo and SW personal card promo then come end of 2023, to get it for 2024 and 2025, need to open again SW business card and SW personal card 125k points and post in 2024. Rinse and repeat, assuming SW doesn’t change anything and following chase’s 5/24 rule.

    • Hi Mark, Yes, that basically sums it up. You can’t have the same card at the time you apply nor can you have received a bonus in the past 24 months. In the case of the personal cards, this means any other personal card (you can only have one personal SW card). The business cards are each considered unique and you can have either – or both!

      So, to get CP for 2023, you could apply for one biz and one personal in late 2021, just being careful to not hit the spend until early January 2022. I always advise the business card first since the bonus is bigger.

  10. Hi Dave,
    Why do you say to get the business card first? Before reading this, I had already applied for the personal card (with the new 50k + 50k bonus points). I plan to do all $12k spend in January 2022 to get my 100k bonus points. Can I still add on a business card to get the final 25k points? Any other suggestions?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hey Kaci. Two reasons: 1) Business card doesn’t count towards 5/24 so if someone is 4/24 (and maybe doesn’t even know it) that card won’t have any effect. 2) The business spend level is much higher, so you can get a jump start on that first. With the personal card just $2k would “accidentally” trigger that first bonus. If you applied now, you only have three weeks in January to put the first $2k on your personal card before that part of your bonus tier ends, though you do have 12 months for the full $12k.

      So that’s why 🙂 But certainly you can work it the way you are no problem – just be very careful on your spend dates and bonus offer end dates.

  11. Hi Dave, thanks for this post. I want to open the Business Card (already have a personal SW card). I like to pay off credit card amounts when the statements come due – so my question is: do I open a business card now and start spending on it (being careful not to hit the $5k mark until Jan 2022) or do I wait until Jan 2022? I’m confused as to when the points would be awarded.

    • Yep! As long as you don’t cross that bonus threshold before Jan 1, 2022 you are golden 🙂

      So you could spend $4,500 this year and the rest in January.

      Please do remember to click to the application via a link in this post to support MilesTalk:)

  12. Hi Dave,
    After reading others’ comments and responses I’m still confused. I’m debating applying for a business card and personal card to earn the CP. If I apply now and receive cards before 2022, I’m not sure if I should work towards the CP using the cards. In some posts you say that any points that are accrued for the purpose of a CP need to be be accrued during the calendar year I want the pass in. So, If I’m shooting for the 2022 to 2023 pass by earning points in Jan and Feb, I should NOT use my cards until January 2022 because if I use them before, the points will NOT count for a CP in 2022 to 2023. Is that correct? In other posts you replied one could use a card in Dec. for say 4,500 being careful NOT to hit sign up bonus unitl after January 1st 2022. So, which is it? Do points earned in Nov/Dec 2021 count towards a SUB that one meets in Jan 2022? Or does one have to wait to earn all and any points for a CP to be used in 2022 and 2023 in Jan. 2022?

    • Hi Marianne! I think I probably need to clarify in the post a bit – and I will edit it! – but meanwhile, it’s a great question to clarify.

      The idea is that you don’t want to cross any spend thresholds that award the signup bonus points before Jan 2022. So, if you got a business card with the $5,000 in spend, you could definitely apply now, spend $4,500 before Dec 31, $500 in January and you’d get the bonus in January. The only points that would go to 2021 in this situation are the 4,500 (or less depending on statement close date) points from spend.

      I think what has made this confusing is the changing bonus offers and that the personal cards right now have the two tier bonus and the first tier is only $2,000 – meaning that it makes sense to apply for a personal one closer to the end of the year since it’s such a small amount for the first threshold.

      To be extra clear – the bonus points will post after you reach that threshold AND the statement closes, so if you apply now for the Business card and spend $2,000 in Nov, $2,000 in Dec and $2,000 in January, you would get 4,000 points in 2021 and the full 80,000 sign up bonus points in 2022 – counting towards your 2022/2023 pass.

      Please let me know if at all still unclear 🙂

  13. My wife and I failed to achieve Companion Pass status the first time we tried this and are considering trying again. She got the card last time, and I will this time. Does it make the most sense to cancel her card and face any credit score related repercussions for that?

    • She doesn’t ‘need’ to cancel her card for you to get one. She can, of course, if she’s had it over a year.

      The credit considerations are 1) is this her oldest card(probably not!) and 2) does it have a large credit line? Losing the credit line can affect her score due to a lower total line and the same utilization (higher %). If it’s significant she can move it onto another Chase card before closing it. If it’s small, like $5k, it won’t matter much.

  14. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for this awesome post! I was just approved with the 100k signup bonus. I’ve got some big purchases coming up next month, so I’m trying to time it right.

    I haven’t got a statement yet, but it’s showing a payment due date of December 23 (for $0 of course, cause I just opened it 11/5.)

    At what point can I spend and have it credit towards 2022? Is it best to wait until January to put any spend on to be safe, or does it just need to be on a statement that would close in January (and if so, what would that cutoff date be)?

    In particular, I’m looking to book an expensive hotel room that would put me near the $2k threshold for the 50k bonus. If I were to reserve it now and it weren’t charged until January, would I be safe?

    • Hey Sergio. You are safe to reserve a reservation as long as you know it’s not prepaid. The booking itself won’t impact anything. You just want to be sure to not hit that first $2,000 until January. You could put say $1,500 on now no problem, just don’t get “close” to $2,000 as sometimes people misjudge and go a drop over accidentally and then it’s too late. Once your December statement has closed, you are safe 🙂

  15. Hi Dave,
    How do you define the “December Statement”? Specifically, I have my next closing date as December 2nd. I assume that is technically my November statement? I assume then my next statement would close January 2nd….

    In my scenario, would I be safe to spend that $2k between December 2nd and January 2nd, or do I need to make sure the charges don’t hit until after January 2nd? I only have until January 20th to earn.

    • Hi Jenna,

      That is correct – MOSTLY 😉 Meaning that statement close dates are normally a fixed number of days apart and shift a bit each month. So once your Dec 2 statement closes, wait a day for Chase to show you your next statement close date. Assuming that is in January, you then know you are good to go!

  16. Need some help!! I only need $2000 more points to get the companion pass, and I am trying to get it so that I have it for 2 years. Southwest agent said I need to get the points by 12/24/2021 as the 24th is when Chase posts to my account but that would mean I would only get the companion pass for 1 year, right? How do I do this to get the pass for both 2022 and 2023? Guess I am having a hard time figuring this out by what I am reading on line–would appreciate any help 🙂
    thank you!
    Christine

    • Hi Christine,

      The points only count in the year earned for the year earned. Anything that you have earned in 2021 will only count towards a 2021/2022 Companion Pass.

      On January 1st, the year will start over and anything you earned this year is wiped away.

      So, if you are saying that you are at 98,000 CP points (remember it was reduced for 2021 only to 100,000 points instead of 125,000), then the agent was correct that you need to earn 2,000 more before your statement closes. If your statement closes on Dec 24th, spend after that date will post in January and count for 2022.

      To get the Companion Pass for 2022, you need to apply for a new card or cards and not earn any bonuses from the new cards until January’s statement date. Of course, it sounds like you already have a card so that may not work. You’ll need 125,000 Companion Pass qualifying points to earn it in 2022.

      So, if you already have the 98,000 points in 2021, you should earn the 2,000 more ASAP since if you don’t by the end of the year, you’ll have no Companion Pass AND the points will all be wiped away leaving you to start over.

  17. So i was thinking about this strategy but the T’s and C’s of the Credit card agreements state that bonus points dont count toward A-list or companion pass.

    “Companion Pass:
    Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest®, points earned on Rapid Rewards® Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards® partners. The following do not count as Companion Pass qualifying points: purchased points; points transferred between Members; points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, e-Rewards®, Valued Opinions, and Diners Club®; points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonus points; flight bonus points; and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase). No points or Companion Pass qualifying points will be awarded for flights taken by the Companion using the Companion Pass. Points earned during a billing cycle on a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card from Chase are not available for redemption or qualification for Companion Pass status until they are posted on your billing statement and posted to your Rapid Rewards Account. Only points posted on your billing statements and posted to your Rapid Rewards account during the same calendar year are available for qualification for Companion Pass status. For example, if you make a purchase after your December billing statement cycle date, the points on those purchases will not count toward Companion Pass status in the year the purchase was made; they will appear on your January billing statement and post to your Rapid Rewards Account in January.”

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