Southwest Companion Pass Season Is Here: A Guide to Earning It For Two Years [Updated Oct 17, 2019]
[This post has been updated on October 17th, 2019 to reflect the new Companion Pass Requirements of 125,000 Rapid Rewards points vs. the older requirement of 110,000 that was in effect when this article was originally written. The offer for 80,000 bonus points on the Southwest Performance business card has also expired, so the post has been updated with the current strategy.]
Each year, the last few months of the 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 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. It includes both paid and award tickets, which is pretty amazing.
You are allowed to change the eligible Companion 3 times per year. 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, 2020, you would have that Companion Pass through December 31st, 2021!
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 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 (previously 110,000) Southwest Rapid Rewards points from certain sources which include flying (obviously) and points earned from credit card bonuses and spend (but not when you transfer points from program 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.
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.)
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 works even if you are 4/24 now.
Timing and Order of Opening the Southwest Credit Cards
There are five Southwest Airlines Credit Cards. You’ll only need to open two, though, to put this plan into action.
The first thing I want to say is the most important part of this plan…
The reason we start now is twofold.
One is that each offer requires a certain amount of spend in three months, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. You want to have as much time as possible to complete your spend BUT you absolutely, positively cannot meet your minimum spend requirement on either card before January 1, 2020.
Let me say that again.
The second reason is that the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card has an offer on for 70,000 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 for $3,000 in spend within 3 months. The annual fee on the Premier Business Credit Card is $99 less, though you get 10,000 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 when 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:
All of the above personal cards offer 40,000 bonus points for $1,000 in spend.
If you got the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, you would have 138,000 Rapid Rewards after meeting minimum spend = Companion Pass!
Or, combine the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card (70,000 bonus points) plus any personal card (40,000 bonus points) to get you to 116,000 points (that’s adding in $6,000 in combined minimum spend for the bonuses) and then earn just 9,000 more from flying, Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels (Powered by RocketMiles).
Or, combine the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (60,000 bonus points) plus any personal card (40,000 bonus points) to get you to 104,000 points (that’s adding in $4,000 in combined minimum spend for the bonuses) and then earn just 9,000 more from flying, Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels (Powered by RocketMiles).
A Simple to Follow Plan to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
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 OR the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card, which is offering 60,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.
MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT CROSS $5,000 BEFORE JAN 1, 2020.
Then between November 18th and the end of the year (depending on how long you’ll need to spend required amount for your bonus on the first card, apply for your second card. (If you applied on Oct 7th, you can get the second card as early as November 9th).
Again this can be any of the four other 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 (lowest annual fee of $69, 40,000 bonus points for $1,000 in spend (plus 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open).
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card (annual fee of $99, 40,000 bonus points for $1,000 in spend (plus 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open).
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card (annual fee of $99, 40,000 bonus points for $1,000 in spend (plus 20,000 points if you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open).
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.
*** 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….
I’m going to keep saying this because every year someone comes onto the Facebook group that met minimum spend too early (think Dec 29) and ruined the whole strategy. If that happens, the points count towards the previous year and the plan is completely blown up, irreversibly. Don’t be that person.
Step 3 is to meet your minimum spends for both cards anytime after January 1, 2020. Anytime. Once you meet it and your next statement closes, those points will be in your Rapid Rewards account and you’re set to go.
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 the strategy
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.