southwest companion pass
Want to discuss these deals? Apply to join the members-only MilesTalk Facebook group.
Advertising Disclosure: Links and credit card offers on this page may earn us a small commission. They never influence what we cover but they do keep the lights on. Learn More

[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. It’s also been updated on February 11, 2020 with new bonus offer information]

Each year, the last few 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 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. 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).

YourBestCreditCards

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 so that you can maximize your Companion Pass. It’s 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.

southwest business performance companion pass

As well, 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 Companion Pass until Dec 31, 2021 in one shot!

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 southwest premier businessthen (unless you did the 100,000 bonus point “big spend” bonus offer on the Performance Business Card, in which case you are already done!) 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:

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

All of the above personal cards offer 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after just $1,000 in spend).

If you got the Southwest Performance Business Credit Card (and only did the first bonus tier) 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) to get you to 104,000 points (that’s adding in $4,000 in combined minimum spend for the bonuses) and then earn 19,000 more from flying, Rapid Rewards dining, Rapid Rewards eShopping, and even Rapid Rewards hotels (Powered by RocketMiles).

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 send 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 116,000 points after hitting the bonuses, (more if any purchases were on Southwest since the cards all earn a bonus multiplier on Southwest spend) leaving you just 9,000 or less Rapid Rewards points left to get the Companion Pass for the rest of this year and all of next year.

A Simple to Follow Plan to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

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).

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

Offer: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Offer: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Offer: Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months.

Now, under the current bonus offers, if you get a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and any personal card, you’ll only be at 104,000 points and you’ll still need to get 21,000 more (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 send 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 116,000 points after hitting the bonuses, (more if any purchases were on Southwest since the cards all earn a bonus multiplier on Southwest spend) leaving you just 9,000 or less Rapid Rewards points left to get the Companion Pass for the rest of this year and all of next year.

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….

Step 3:

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

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 “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.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here