Southwest Companion Pass Strategy for 2020/2021

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Offers for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card are not available through this site. All information has been independently collected by AwardWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Some offers may have expired. Please see our card marketplace for available offers.

Want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020 and 2021? In this post, we cover an easy strategy to earn the Companion Pass for up to two years by signing up for a combination of Southwest co-brand credit cards. Although Southwest recently announced changes to the qualification requirements for the Southwest Companion Pass, increasing the points needed to get the Companion Pass in 2020 from 110,000 to 125,000, utilizing this strategy is still the fastest and most efficient method of attaining the Companion Pass.

The Southwest Companion pass is one of the best offers in domestic and regional travel for folks that often fly with a companion or family member. Earning this benefit means that your chosen companion can travel with you on any paid ticket or award ticket by paying only the taxes and fees. This makes the Companion Pass an unlimited buy-one-get-one-free offer while you have the deal.

We’ve covered this in much more detail here. If you aren’t familiar with the rules for who can get the Southwest credit cards, make sure to review the other post.

Key Terms

  • Get the Companion Pass by earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points or flying 100 segments in a calendar year (increases to 125,000 points from January 1, 2020).
  • Points earned from welcome bonuses currently count towards qualification (although this is subject to change)
  • Both award flights (booked with points) and revenue flights (booked with money) are eligible for a companion ticket
  • Payment of taxes and fees is still required on a companion ticket (Taxes start at $5.60 each direction within the U.S.)
  • You can only have one companion at a time
  • The Rapid Rewards member who has the Companion Pass must travel with his or her companion
  • You can change your designated companion up to 3 times per year
  • The Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the calendar year in which it is earned plus the entire following year.

Before you even think about taking action on this, there is one term which is extremely important you understand:

Every year on January 1st, your progress towards the Companion Pass resets to zero. This means you need to make sure you earn all of the points to qualify in 2020 if you want to keep this benefit for 2020 and 2021. The welcome bonuses on the Southwest cards will post to your Rapid Rewards account when you hit the minimum spending requirement. You do not want to hit this threshold before January 1st.

Current Southwest Offers

Personal Cards

You can only have one Southwest personal card. If you already have one of these cards, you will not be approved for another card. There are three options, but we recommend the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card thanks to a pile of ongoing benefits that are far more valuable than the cost of the annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual Fee$149
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 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
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$99
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 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.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.
  • 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
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Annual Fee$69
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 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.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.
  • 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

Business Cards

You can have both Southwest business cards, but you can’t have more than one account with either card (even if it is for a different business). If you have one of these cards already, you need to get the other card.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$199
Welcome Bonus Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
The latest card to join the Southwest lineup of rewards cards, the Southwest Performance Business Card offers the highest Rapid Rewards signup bonus, earns more points than it's Southwest counterparts, receives a massive 9,000 point anniversary bonus, plus offers plenty of perks and benefits for Southwest fans. One of the best co-brand business cards on the market.
  • Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.
  • 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
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$99
Welcome Bonus 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

*Note, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card is not available through this site. You'll need to find this offer directly from Chase or Southwest.

Our Take

The Companion Pass is an amazing deal for couples and families. Because you earn the pass for the remainder of the year you reach 110,000 points and the entire year that follows, the current offers are a great opportunity to maximize your time with the benefit. The quickest path to the Companion Pass is to get one business and one personal card and earn both bonuses between January 1st and when your 90-day signup bonus window ends in 2020. If you can only get one of the cards listed in this post, you’ll have to earn the remainder of the 125,000 points through spending on the card, flights with Southwest, or via the Southwest Hotel Portal. Check out our post “What Points Qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?” for more details.

Before you take action, I highly recommend checking out this post. You’ll find more details on:

  • Eligibility rules for the Southwest cards
  • How to sequence your applications
  • Which cards provide the most value
  • How to make sure you earn your welcome bonus in 2020.

Are you planning to jump on this offer? Let us know in the comments.

Southwest Companion Pass Strategy for 2020/2021
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Comments

  • Southwest mania again 🙂

  • I’ll wait for a higher offer

  • Thanks for the heads up – will get in on the business card before the deadline and get started on my first companion pass!

  • Be careful for bait-and-switch. I saw a number of 60,000 point deals in my email and on various websites. When purchasing a Southwest ticket I decided to sign up for their credit card. Unfortunately, I wasn’t watching closely enough and found out, belatedly, that I only received a 10,000 bonus from Southwest/Chase. Apparently the deal I ended up getting was 1/6 that which they are broadly offering. Be very careful that you get the better deal.

    • Hey Scott, I’m sorry to hear that happened. Unfortunately, it’s super common to see lower offers—especially the ones that get pitched when you’re buying a flight. We always publish the best offer that is publically available on the blog. In some cases, that isn’t our affiliate link, (for example this offer) but we always make a good-faith effort to show the best possible offer to you guys.

    • I’m not sure that’s a bait and switch though. There are always multiple offers for the same card so it’s up to you to verify you are signing up for the best one.

  • Thanks for the information. I hadn’t really considered the companion pass before now.

  • Not interested in the CP but i do fly southwest a lot so I’ll be keeping my eye on the offers year round.

  • So, we can start accumulating points now, in 2019, and those will count towards the 110,000 points needed for the CP, as long as we hit the 110,000 mark in the year 2020?

    • A huge chunk of the points is the welcome bonus. None of the points earned from regular spending in 2019 will count towards the 2020 Companion Pass. The idea is to spend just short of the signup bonus spending requirement in 2019, and then make the purchase that pushes you over the threshold in early January. For example, the SW Performance Biz card requires $5,000 spend to earn 80,000 points. If you spend $4,800 in 2019, and then make a purchase of $200 in January, you’ll have 80,000 points towards the Companion Pass.

      • I Hadn’t thought of that, thanks for the idea.

      • Sharon Brown says:

        I’m confused . . . I thought the entire required spend ($5000) couldn’t post until January 1, 2020 in order for it to count toward the 110,000 points needed for the companion pass. But you’re saying as long as the amount required to push you into earning the 80,000 doesn’t post until after Jan 1 you’re ok? If so that’s fantastic news! Please confirm

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    This comparison pass may entice me to return to SouthWest. I stopped due to more lucrative points/miles programs with other carriers.

  • Just as an FYI, if you sign up for a personal card on a flight or at a kiosk at the airport (Dallas Love, not sure about others) you can get a 50,000 point bonus with (I think $2000 spend in 90 days, although it might be $3000 spend).

  • Thanks for the information.

  • I guess I am not one of those who’s trying for the popular companion pass. I don’t see anything here to entice me to try for it.
    I will need to try Southwest before I’d really try for this. I usually do carry on and I like having seats ahead of time, so SW is a big jump for me to fly. Plus, they never have any saver fares to where I want to go.

  • Steven William Van Meter says:

    I’m curious about the expiration with this deal. It seems to be a little too good to be true. That always makes me suspicious (at least a little).

  • I hope that the next set of reward miles goes up from here.

  • Not the highest offer we’ve seen, but great timing for getting the companion pass.

  • Every year around this time we are inundated with posts about how great this deal is and how easy it is to take advantage of it, but I can’t because I don’t have a companion. Cue the violins 😓😥😰

  • I love the possibility of earn points! I have done my best during my life with all companies, that’s why I had the opportunity to meet so many different places around the world. Thank you for letting us know 🙂

  • Probably one of the best frequent flyer programs, Rapid Rewards!

  • If you apply by the 16th but are not approved until after, will the SUB of 80k still be valid?

  • I’m fairly certain that with the CP you won’t have a problem finding someone to fly with you to Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, Las Vegas…you get the idea 🙂 Ideally, you can find a companion who has a ton of hotel points burning a hole in their pocket and you can be a match made in heaven.

  • Hopefully, they will return someday soon as I haven’t been able to make use of these yet.

  • Not really enough of a fan of Southwest’s lack of seat assignments and other features to want to go this route

    • Note the Priority and Performance each come with 4 upgraded boarding credits, that could alleviate your seat-selecting concerns.

  • Sharon Brown says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH Erik Paquet!!

  • The CP will cost 125k to earn, effective 1/1/20 !! Perfect timing of annoucement – just after the 80k offer ends!

    • I’m a little ticked off at this raising the requirement AGAIN and I am pretty sure I am going to cancel one of my sw cards..,I had planned on doing the Performance card but after reading on here I decided to wait until it has a better offer but it looks like they’re wanting to eliminate anyone getting the cp unless they fly every week! My cousin flew weekly Ks-Fl and never earned enough points for the cp, I can’t imagine how many flights it would take to actually earn it now!

  • If you applied before 10/16 but are approved after that date, will you still earn the 80K points? Hope so, that is my current situation as I did not get instant approval.

  • Disappointed to hear the amount needed to earn the pass will be going up.

  • Looks like Southwest just increased the points required for a companion pass after this post went live.

  • just got an email from SW stating that points will no longer expire

  • We have seen better, hopefully better will pop back up again.

  • 5/24 rule makes this impossible

  • Nice offers but Southwest’s seating policies don’t work for us.

  • I personally don’t find the deal all that enticing simply because I travel alone but the fact that CC sign-up bonuses count towards achieving the qulification criteria is very generous from them!

  • Not sure about the business card version. Aren’t there two flavors of the personal southwest cards?

  • Anyone else having delayed decisions on the 80,000 SW Biz card? Been waiting 6 days and no decision. Perhaps Chase was slammed with last minute applications. Never waited this long before.

    • I also had a delayed decision. It took approximately two weeks for me. Sometimes a call to Chase can speed up the process, but in my case, they told me I just needed to wait for the process to run its course. I was approved in the end.

      • Still waiting, Erik. Got a letter in the mail asking us to call card services. The conversation was very detailed question – more than ever – I think it will go through, but they said they would notify us by email by tomorrow.
        I had a friend who also applied for the Performance 80k and was denied by letter saying they needed EIN, etc. proof. Sounds like they are beginning to clamp down like Barclay.

  • Sounds kind of complicated to do, but very much worth it if you can execute it to a “t”.

  • This looks like a good program perk!!! Several steps but it looks doable!

  • Michael Skelly says:

    There is still time to get the Companion pass with only 110,000 points! We just recd ours. The timing isn’t the best for maximizing the time you can use the pass, but it is great timing to avoid the higher requirement of rapid rewards points. If you are near to qualifying now, don’t let your points go to zero on New Year’s morning!

  • Does referral bonus count towards CP?

  • Mike skelly says:

    This may be a beginner question but can I book flights using my companion pass through the Chase portal? I’m thinking that if I spend through my Chase Sapphire Preferred card I get 2x points for travel, then if I redeem at 1.5 times that it’s 3 points per dollar and the companion fare doubles that to six points per dollar value. Does that work? Would I be better off booking through Southwest for their 2x rapid rewards points or is going through the Chase portal a better way to maximize points?

    • Hey Mike, I think you may be confusing a few components here.

      First, if you have the CSP card, you can redeem Chase points through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 (not 1.5 cents per point). 1.5 cents is for the Sapphire Reserve card. With the companion pass, you’d be getting effectively 2.5 cents per point in value.

      However, if you redeem points for the travel, you won’t get 2x points earned on the cost of the trip.

      The alternative option would be to buy the ticket (from Southwest) using your CSP card. In that case, you’d get 2x points on the amount paid (but only for one ticket since you’ll be adding a free companion).

      You can learn more about the portal here: https://awardwallet.com/blog/chase-ultimate-rewards-travel-portal/
      Your other option with Chase points is to transfer to travel partners (which includes Southwest) — you can read more on that here: https://awardwallet.com/blog/chase-ultimate-rewards-transfer-partners/

  • albert rollins dubocq says:

    Thanks for sharing, looking on ways to maximize this, seems they keep changing all the time.

  • The companion pass gives me so much value!

  • Did I read correctly? 100 segments in a year? That’s a lot

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