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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!
So, what's the catch?
You need to earn 125,000 points or fly 100 segments in a calendar year to earn a Companion Pass.
Acquiring and meeting the minimum spend requirements on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, just two cards, can quickly earn you enough points to land the coveted Companion Pass.
However, if you have a business with substantial spending, it's currently possible to earn the Companion Pass with a single application, thanks to the new tiered bonus requirement. If you can't earn the full bonus quickly, it could make sense to pick up a combination of cards to lower the total spending you need to do before achieving buy-one-get-one-free flights on Southwest.
- 3X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases
- 2X points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services
- 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
The Fastest Way to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020/21
If reaching the full spending requirement of $25,000 to earn the Companion Pass with the Southwest Performance Business Card will take you close to six months, you can reach your goal faster (and with less spending) by acquiring just one personal card and the Southwest Performance Business Card, or both business credit cards, and meeting the minimum spend. With 2020 well underway, it's the perfect time to start your quest for 125K Rapid Rewards points. To earn the Companion Pass for the better part of two years, you want to time your applications so that you can complete the spending requirement at the beginning of 2020.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. (Read our in-depth review)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. (Read our in-depth review)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card – Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months (Read our in-depth review)
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 2020 in order to qualify, so you need to complete the minimum spend on the cards in 2020 to qualify for the Companion Pass through the end of 2021.
- 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 Southwest Performance Business Card, or you can justify acquiring both business cards.
Personal card application restrictions:
“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.”
Business card application restrictions:
“This new Cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of this business credit card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of this business credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus for this business credit card within the last 24 months.”
What this means is that you have the option of signing up for any combination of personal and Southwest Performance Business Card, or both business cards, and meeting the minimum spend to earn one of the most coveted perks in rewards travel.
So, which Southwest card offers the best value?
The best value is currently the Southwest Performance Business Card, which offers a signup bonus of up to 100,000 points, a host of top Southwest perks, plus cardholders receive 9,000-anniversary points each year when you renew the card, although you'll wear a $199 annual fee.
If you are chasing a personal card, 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
- Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
- $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
- 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
- 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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!
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, the Southwest Premier Business Card, and Southwest Performance 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.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide
- 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
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.
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