Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass [2019]

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One of the best perks in the points & miles world, a Companion Pass allows you and a travel buddy to fly two-for-the-price-of-one on any Southwest flight paying cash or points.

And, even better, if you get the companion pass early in the new year, you can use it for the rest of that year, plus the entire next year. Giving you 2-for-1 flights for the better part of two years!

Acquiring and meeting the minimum spend requirements on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card—just two cards—will earn you enough points to land the coveted companion pass.

Southwest Airlines 737
photo credit: airlines470 N401WN LAX via photopin (license)

The Fastest Way to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2019/20

There's good news for anyone wanting to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2019/20. Acquiring just one personal card and one business co-brand credit card, and meeting the minimum spend will get you the Southwest Companion Pass through the end of 2020!

And, just in case you’re unsure the signup bonuses are a valid path to the companion pass, the T&C’s have it in black and white:

“Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.”

A couple of caveats to keep in mind when pursuing this path to the Companion Pass. First up, all the points need to post in 2019 in order to qualify, so you can't complete the minimum spend on the cards before the end of the year. And second, you can no longer get two personal Southwest cards, so this will only work if you apply for one of the personal cards and the business card.

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.”

This means signing up for any of the personal cards and the business card, and meeting the minimum spend will get you one of the most coveted perks in rewards travel.

The Southwest Premier Business Card will net you 63,000 points. Then, complete the minimum spend on the personal card which will net you 62,000 points—getting you to a total of 125,000 points and qualifying for the Companion Pass.

So if you can only get one personal Southwest card, which offers the best value? The Southwest Priority Card comes out on top when you weigh up the value provided by each card. Feature benefits include:

  • A $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 7,500-anniversary points each year
  • Four upgraded boardings per year
  • 20% back on in-flight purchases

Although the annual fee on the Southwest Priority Card is $50 more than on the Southwest Premier Card, the perks for Southwest fans provide value far in excess of the additional annual fee.

Don't think you qualify for a business card to make this strategy work? You may be surprised at how accessible small business credit cards are. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a Federal EIN or Tax ID, you don't even need to have a storefront! See attached post for details.

Are the Southwest Cards Subject to the 5/24 Rule?

Yes, in addition to the application rules mentioned above, the Southwest Plus Card, the Southwest Premier Card, the Southwest Priority Card, and Southwest Premier Business Card all fall under Chase’s requirements for new credit card applications (Get up to date with the 5/24 rule). You will not be approved for new credit card applications with Chase if you have added 5 or more new credit cards to your credit report within the last 24 months.

While this can feel restrictive for frequent flyers that like to accumulate points and miles across multiple programs, for the majority of travelers who focus on just one or two rewards programs, it doesn’t present a major inconvenience.

An excellent strategy to employ if you plan on accumulating more than 5 cards over the next 24 months? Focus on acquiring Chase cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card before extending your search out to other credit card providers.

Why Choose the Southwest Cards over More Flexible Points Earning Cards?

Why would you get the two Southwest cards instead of a card that earns flexible rewards points such as Ultimate Rewards (which transfer to Rapid Rewards at 1:1)?

Cards like the Sapphire Preferred are arguably better travel rewards cards for travelers that fly a variety of airlines. But as a means of attaining the Southwest Companion Pass, the Southwest cards win hands down. Ultimate Rewards points do transfer to Rapid Rewards at 1:1, however, they don’t count towards a companion pass under Southwest’s transfer policy.

Final Thoughts

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable perks in rewards travel.

If you’ve been looking for a method of attaining a companion pass, and you qualify for these cards, now is a fantastic time to pull the trigger.

Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass [2019]
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Comments

  • Ugh, just lost my whole comment. typing again.
    I’m a newbie. Husband, myself and 4 adult kids just got approved for SW RR plus card including companion pass. Each of us will meet min spend of $1000 for the 40k bonus points. Hubby and I plan to apply for sw RR biz cards in Jan 2018. I understand there are 3 ways to earn Sw companion pass for the 2nd year. (1. spend $110,00.00 dollars on card; 2. apply for biz cards for the bonus points; 3. meet the last portion of the min spend in the 3rd month of the 90 day window…..this is the part I need assistance/explanation for….please advise..Thank you!!!

    • Debbie, high level: To earn the companion pass, 110,000 companion pass points must post to your rapid rewards account within the same calendar year. The 3rd-month thing doesn’t really come into play with you if you just got approved for the card(s). If we were in October/November that’d be different — but since you were just approved, all of your first 3 statements will close in 2018 so you’re good to go for everything else in the process.

      • Hello again. THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSE. All 5 of us were approved for our cards on beginning on Nov. 4 (husbands and mine), through Nov. 14.
        Would that change the “third way” I was referencing as discussed above? If so, please explain in super easy terms as Im a newbie!

        • Make sure the statement month in which you meet the minimum spend requirements on all of your cards occurs in 2018.

          What this means: You can spend in 2017, but you want to make sure your statement closes in 2018. So if your statement closes every day on the 29th, you’d want to make sure that you don’t hit the spend requirement for the bonus points before December 29th, because then the points would post in 2017 and I don’t see how you’d get to 110,000 earned in 2017.

          • Yes – and, if you accidentally realize that your points are going to be posted in Dec, you may call Chase and request to postpone your next closing date to January 2nd or something alike.

  • Kim Gibson says:

    I applied for the 2 SW Chase and a Premier cards to get the bonuses and earned my companion pass in June 2017 (set to expire Dec 2018). If I applied for my 2 cards in Feb2017 and May 2017. If I cancel both cards, does the 24 month part of the rule go into effect from APPLICATION date or from CANCELLATION date? I’d like to close and reopen in a few months to do the bonus deals again for 2019/2020.

  • Kim Gibson says:

    Thanks for the reply! Do you have any recommendations on how to quickly renew your companion pass? I rarely use my cards, so that’s why I was looking to the bonuses…

    • Quickly — you’d need to get a personal and business southwest co-branded credit card, meet the spend requirements and then earn the additional points to hit the companion pass threshold. Otherwise, spend a ton of money on your credit cards or fly an insane amount.

      • I was told by a Southwest agent on Twitter that you cannot get two Southwest cards and use them for the points as only one can be linked to your Southwest account. Is this accurate or have people got the regular card and the business card and had this work?

  • Kim Gibson says:

    Hmmm…ok..I already have the Plus and Premier cards. Don’t have the business card, as I don’t have a business. Thanks anyway!

  • “And, just in case you’re unsure the signup bonuses are a valid path to the companion pass, the T&C’s have it in black and white:

    Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.

    What this means is signing up any combination of personal and business Southwest credit cards, and meeting the minimum spend requirements of between $1,000/2,000/3,000, can almost automatically earn you one of the most coveted perks in rewards travel. The low minimum spending requirements on these two cards make this the fastest and most affordable path to earning a companion pass in 2018.”

    By all accounts, this is incorrect information. Your sign-up bonus points DO NOT count towards a companion pass. I signed up for the Premiere card last year during the free companion pass promotion, and upon reading the fine print it turns out the 40K bonus sign-up points I received don’t count towards my companion points for the following year (2019). Seems like this blog post is either outdated or misinforming people. At the very least the vernacular used is vague and misleading. Anything ANYTHING labelled “bonus” points, including the 40-60K points you earn after spending 1K/2K/3K in the first three months DOES NOT COUNT.

    I sincerely hope someone can prove me wrong, but everything I read points to what I’m saying here.

    • The bonus points awarded from a credit card count towards reaching companion status. The information posted here is correct. Here are the terms (taken from https://www.southwest.com/rapidrewards/tiers-more-companion-pass) which explicitly indicate that bonus points from the Rapid Rewards credit cards DO COUNT towards the companion pass:

      Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest®, points issued on Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners in a calendar year. Purchased points, points transferred between Members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions, and Diners Club, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and Partner bonus points (excluding bonus points earned on the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.

  • Thanks for the guide!

  • This is such a valuable pass. Love it!

  • Can my wife and i combine points to meet the 110k points or it has to be the same person?

    • Hey Ernesto, it needs to be the same person earning all the points. The only way to really team up with a spouse for the CP is for the other person to get it in two years after your CP expires. Of course, that is assuming this deal is still around then, which I wouldn’t count on.

  • Can I get multiple southwest business cards if I have several different businesses?

    • I haven’t see a lot of data points on opening multiple business cards, but I also haven’t seen any explicit language from Chase saying that the same person can’t have a card for multiple businesses. So it may be possible.

  • Carl Vartian says:

    I currently have a SW Rapid Rewards card and have qualified for a Companion Pass through the end of 2019.

    Questions: If I were to cancel my credit card and wait a couple of months, could I reapply for a new card and collect a bonus toward next year’s annual 110,000 miles?

    • That strategy would solve item #1, but make sure to check when you earned the last signup bonus. The ideal scenario would really be to earn the CP in early 2020 since you already have it in 2019.

      (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.

  • So I iunderstand that it may be possible to get the two card bonus with TWO business cards? I own two separate businesses with separate EIN numbers and want to achieve the Companion Pass that way??

    • I haven’t see a lot of data points on opening multiple business cards, but I also haven’t seen any explicit language from Chase saying that the same person can’t have a card for multiple businesses. So it may be possible.

  • At selected airports and in-flight there is an offer to obtain a 50K bonus with 2K spend on Southwest Personal CCs such as the Rapid Rewards Plus. Combined with the 60K offer on the business card, this would get you the Companion Pass without additional spending.

  • Although you say that the bonus points count, they haven’t in the past and what about this in the fine print? “Purchased points, points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and partner bonuses (excluding bonus points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not count toward Companion Pass.”

    It’s the “points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment,” that I’m referring to.

    The sentence before the one I quote says: “Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest®, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners.”

    That’s three very specific ways to earn points, and the bonus points don’t fall into any of the three categories.

    I think the “All points earned with either card count towards Companion Pass” in big type in the promo is saying that you can get CP points by other than taking a flight, i.e., by buying something with your SW credit card.

    But I could be wrong. LOL

    • Hey Alan, the signup bonus falls under the “points earned by making purchases on your Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card.” I can understand the hesitation after reading the T&C, but it’s been very clearly established that you can earn the Companion Pass this way. Wouldn’t be surprised if that changes in the future, but for now it’s possible.

  • Interesting info on SW. This year, I’ve flown them for the 1st time in 10 + years. Made it roughly half way to A list. The trips have been pleasant, even though short.

  • We saved over $5,000 in 2018 using Companion Pass. It is such an amazing opportunity!

  • Sadly I am way over 5/24, so almost impossible to get for me.

  • I did not know about the companion pass before.

  • It is truly simply to get business cards in the USA.

  • Don’t usually fly Southwest at this time. Hope that someday I will be able to make this offer worthwhile for me and apply.

  • You can certainly have a personal and business card. Chase seems to have gotten a bit strict about it but datapoints show that its still possible.

  • Best value in the FF world.

  • Isabel Burdeus says:

    Hello,
    If you get the two cards in 2018 but points start accumulating in 2019, how can you have the companion pass for two years?

    Thatnks for the great information!!
    Isabel B.

    • Hey Isabel, you get the companion pass for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn it, PLUS the next calendar year. So the reason now is such a good time is that you can earn it very early in 2019 and use it for all of 2019 and 2020.

  • 2019 will be second year of using companion pass. In a word…awesome!
    Saved a ton of money. Can my wife sign up for cards in 2020/2021? Or are households held to 5/24 rule?
    Thanks,
    Jay

  • what a great deal! too bad i cannot get a personal card because of 5/24!!

  • Some good info, many thanks.

  • Here’s hoping I win your GAW and only have to get one card 🙂

  • Thank you for another thorough guide

  • I’ve never been a fan of Southwest but I do acknowledge that the companion pass is an amazing deal for those who travel together. I usually travel alone and I like premium cabins so it is not a worthwhile goal for me at this time. If I ever were to have a use for it, I’d certainly want to refer back to this article for guidance. Thanks

  • Too bad about that 5/24 rule.

  • If only they had first class

  • nice to see, now will have to convince spouse to like their boarding processes

  • I’m looking forward to trying this.

  • I’m still having a hard time deciding whether CP is worth it.
    I fly SouthWest maybe 3-4 times a year.

  • Good breakdown. Thanks.

  • We saved thousands of dollars using the companion pass last year. It’s one of, if not the, best travel deals.

  • If you like Southwest and travel often enough to make it worth it, the Companion Pass is not to be missed.

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    all good tips here. thx!

  • What are the qualifications for holding the business card? My wife has a hobby and has sold a couple things. Does she qualify?

  • I already have both business and personal SW cards that I have had for years. Just now hearing about the companion pass. Should I cancel my current cards and then open them back up?

  • Short answer: yes. You get your points on the statement closing date of the period in which you hit the spend requirement. The date you get your points is what matters, not the date on which you get your credit card.

  • wow, great offer don’t want to miss!

  • In an effort to obtain the companion pass, I was just approved for the business card. I now want to apply for the personal card, will my credit take another hit when applying for the personal credit card?

    • Charles Janay says:

      Unless you plan on getting a mortgage or other installment loan, or pretty much know you will get turned down, what’s the point of having a high credit rating if you don’t take a small temporary hit for offers like this?

      • I’m a real estate investor so I value my credit worthiness and try to limit the hits to my credit! I definitely think the companion pass has its advantages! Thanks for your feedback guys. I spoke with Chase about it and it was confirmes that it would take another hit.

  • It’s that time of year again. My wife and I had out 2nd child in November. We are both under 5/24. Contemplating if I should get 1 CP or 2, to give us all our own seat and spare the lap child juggling.

  • I still am thinking that this is not something I’m going to strive for right now. I’m looking at other carriers for some trips instead.
    It’s on my radar but I think I need to fly SW first before trying for this.

  • Kayla Whiting says:

    Thank you for this blog! Southwest is my favorite airline and the companion pass is a goal of mine, some year. I’m bookmarking this. Thank you.

  • Maybe I should start flying SW someday 🙂

  • No where near ready for a companion pass.

  • Great tips as always!

  • If I ever get out from under 5/24 I’ll work on getting one of these.

  • This is a very timely post, thanks.

  • Thanks so much for the updated guide – have been thinking about jumping on board for the CP and the level of detail here is phenomenal.

  • I have a Rapid Rewards card that I got late in 2017 during a special California-only promo that afforded me a companion pass for 2018. Great deal! Now, I’m waiting to see of renewing the card at $69/yr is worthwhile. Any thoughts?

    • Look at the card benefits and what you receive for the associated cost — for me, I don’t live in a Southwest city — but it could make sense for you.

    • When I called in to close my card account I was offered a $70 statement credit that offset the annual fee. This was 3 years ago though and I’m aware that redemption offers are not as good these days.

  • Thanks for educating me on companion pass

  • If I were able to fly more often, this would be the next card on my list. Thank you for providing this information in a way that is easy to understand!

  • great post! I love southwest and the companion pass is second to none in this industry!

  • Recently flew on Southwest and saw an ad on in-seat flyer that offered $50K miles at
    Southwestwifi.com. Tried at home and a Warning Flag came up as an unsafe site.
    Do you have to do it ON the plane ?

  • thanks for this very clearly written guide

  • This is seems like a great deal! Southwest does a incredible job offering the best deals!!!

  • Thanks for the breakdown!

  • Great summary of the best routes to the companion pass

  • Good summary. Would also be good to add nclude what else counts/doesn’t count toward CP.

  • How do you show you are a business by selling personal items on ebay? Thanks Ann

  • Arboreal Thoreau says:

    This is great information, thanks! Love Southwest!

  • Do referral points count towards the cp?

  • One of the many good things about Southwest is that their awards never expire. With 4 travelers in the family, keeping track of many dozens of award programs is very difficult. AwardWallet to the rescue!

  • So with the recent promotion you guys announced today, where you can get companion pass through 12/31/19 with any of those three personal cards after the min spend…does that negate the strategy of getting it for 2 years by then getting the biz card and tacking on all those points? The offers seem to expire at the same time.

    • No it doesn’t, and if you have the capacity to get both a personal and business card, and put enough spend on them to get a CP for two years, we recommend going down that path. However, this is a top offer for folks that don’t qualify for a business card, or can’t put the spend required on the SW cards to reach 110K points.

  • Specific questions on earning Companion Pass points:

    When booking hotels through the SWA portal, they offer regular points (often 1 per $1 of hotel rate) and then some have a much higher number of points, often 2,000 or more for a 2 night stay. Shown as: Loyalty Rewards Earn 4,000 points

    1. Do they Loyalty Rewards count toward Companion Pass?

    2. They say they credit these points “up to 8 weeks after the stay”. What is normal amount of time until posted?

    3. If I book a Non Refundable rate, which I think charges my SWA card immediately, do I still have to wait 8 weeks after stay for posting or will they be 8 weeks after booking?

    Hope someone has used these recently and can advise. Thanks

    • Hey Mike, sorry for the delay.

      1. I don’t believe points earned from partners & shopping portals will count towards a CP. Southwest made some changes a couple years ago and eliminated many partner transactions from the CP qualification.

      2. The time to post depends on the portal. We haven’t identified any reliable patterns on posting times.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. If anyone else has more info please chime in.

      All best,
      Erik

  • I opened and was approved for the Southwest Credit card in January
    I quickly charged, and paid over $4,000 worth of purchases so as to reach the spend requirements for earning the companion pass, this was done and completed on January 23rd and shows on my chase account of the charges/payment

    How long will it take to show up in my southwest account that I have earned the companion pass and receive the 30,000 sign up bonus as well.
    I want to start booking flights ASAP

  • Points will be credited on your next statement closing date, and typically appear in your SW account the next day. Companion pass will show up in your SW account at the same time.

  • Best card perk IMO if you have a significant other!

  • my husband just got the companion pass with the deal by signing up for a credit card earlier this year and meeting the minimum spending amount. can he book a companion ticket for a trip he booked before getting the pass and paid for with a non sw credit card? thx.

    • No, they won’t allow you to book the companion ticket without a companion pass. However, Southwest allows you to apply the companion pass to existing reservations so if you book two tickets via points or cash on the same flight, you can call in and apply the companion pass as soon as it is issued.

  • Frustrated with the new SW credit card Companion Pass promo.

    Jan 30, 2019 – card received
    Feb 9, 2019 – 4k spend requirement met
    Feb 17, 2019 – statement closed
    Feb 19, 2019 – 4k+ points posted in my SW account for the spend
    Feb 20 – today Mar 14 – called SW 5 times to see when I should expect my companion pass and each time they read me a paper saying “6-8 weeks”
    Mar 14 – still waiting for companion pass

    Is anyone in the same situation as I am?

    • Hey Eric,

      Have you received the companion pass yet? I was told 6-8 weeks when I called the number in the back of my card after meeting the $4,000 spending requirement.

      Dan

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