If you aren’t eligible for business cards, needed to complete the strategy detailed below, then you should probably consider one of the three personal card offers now.
This article is designed to help you get Companion Pass for all of 2022 and 2023. Since it lasts for the year you earn it in AND all of the following year, NOW is a great time to start the process, as I’ll outline below.
Also note that we have new info that even those over 5/24 are being approved for Southwest cards!
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.
In this article
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).
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 Southwest® Rapid Rewards® 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® 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.
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 Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card (Annual Fee: $69)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card (Annual Fee: $99)
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card (Annual Fee: $149)
(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 (51,000 bonus points for $1,000 spend plus 1,000 points for meeting the minimum spend = 136,000 total Companion Pass qualifying points) to well more than meet 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 points) to get you to 115,000 points and just 15,000 points from a 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!
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
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 50,000 points (plus 1,000 from meeting minimum spend) off a personal card and earn the balance from spend and flights, but you’d still need to earn 76,000 more – so I urge you to read this post to see if you might actually be eligible for a Business credit card!
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.
Sign Up Bonus Offer:
Sign Up Bonus Offer:
Sign Up Bonus Offer:
Now, under the current bonus offers, if you get a Southwest Performance Business Credit and any of the personal credit cards, you’ll have enough points to earn Companion Pass through Dec 2023.
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 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.
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.