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Chase and Southwest Airlines have teamed up on what looks to be one of the hottest credit card offers since the Chase Sapphire Reserve® touched down in 2016. Sign up for one of the three Southwest personal cards and meet the minimum spend requirements, and you’ll take home a Companion Pass for the remainder of 2019—plus 30,000 Rapid Rewards points to help cover your first trip!
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most sought after rewards in points and miles, providing unlimited two-for-one flights on both award and revenue fares for you and a companion—for as long as the pass is valid.
In other words, every time you buy a Southwest ticket or use Rapid Rewards points to book an award, your favorite travel buddy gets to come along by paying only the taxes (which start at $5.60 on flights within the U.S.)
Until today, you could only get a companion pass by:
- Flying 100 one-way flights in a calendar year
- Accumulating 110,000 points via credit card spend, flying Southwest, or making purchases through Southwest partners.
Signup for Just One Credit Card and Get a Southwest Companion Pass
All three consumer Southwest cards feature the same offer:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open. (Read our in-depth review)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card – Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card – Earn up to 60,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months your account is open. (Read our in-depth review)
This is a limited-time offer that ends on February 11, 2019, so there is only a small window of opportunity.
Since all three cards have the same welcome bonus, your first reaction might be to get the card with the lowest annual fee. But in this case, we think the Southwest Priority Card (the card with the highest annual fee) is the clear winner. Here’s why:
It’s always a good strategy to pick a card you can justify keeping for the long term. The Southwest Priority Card should easily meet that requirement. In exchange for $149 per year, you’ll get:
- A $75 Southwest airfare credit each year you hold the card
- Four EarlyBird Check-Ins ($15-25 each)
- 7,500 Rapid Rewards points on your account anniversary
The $149 annual fee should effectively cost you $74 per year, assuming you can make use of the $75 Southwest airfare credit. In most cases, we wouldn't automatically assign face value to an airfare credit, but if you won’t use that $75 credit, you shouldn’t be chasing down a Companion Pass or a Southwest co-brand card.
The EarlyBird Check-Ins should be worth $60-100 for those that would normally pay, but I like to think of those as an extra freebie that makes the card an easy keeper.
The rest of the value comes from the 7,500 annual points benefit, which should cover around $120 worth of airfare on Southwest. The exact number of points per dollar does vary a little, but the typical rate is about 1.6 cents per Rapid Rewards point.
Here’s the cash and points cost for a sample flight from Austin to New York on June 1st:
For the sake of comparison, you can expect to get about $95 towards airfare from the 6,000 anniversary points earned with the Southwest Premier Card and about $48 from the 3,000 anniversary points earned with the Southwest Plus Card.
Who is Eligible?
Chase has some fairly strict controls on who can get approved for the Southwest cards. In addition to the 5/24 policy, under which you’ll be denied if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the previous 24 months, you also won’t be approved if you currently hold a Southwest consumer card, or you’ve received a signup bonus from a Southwest card in the previous 24 months.
“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.”
You can also read more about current application restrictions across all major banks.
Who Should Jump on This Southwest Companion Pass Offer?
The Companion Pass is excellent for family travel. Whether you regularly get away for weekends with a spouse or partner or frequently travel with your kids, you can slash up to 50% off the cost of your airfare for almost an entire year! If you travel as a family of four, you could potentially get a Companion Pass for each parent and add the kids as companions, turning 2019 into a year of cheap family travel!
The Companion Pass is also a great tool for cheap positioning flights, making it an ultra cost-effective way to position to international gateways so you can take advantage of expanded award availability from hubs outside of your home airport. One reason Southwest is so good for positioning flights is that there are no blackout dates. If there are seats left on the plane, you can book yourself and your companion with points or cash.
It should go without saying, but if you don’t fly Southwest, you can’t move some of your travel plans to Southwest for the year, or you don’t regularly travel with the same companion, you are better off letting this deal go.
The one downside to this offer is that the Companion Pass is only valid through to the end of 2019, whereas if you acquire a Companion Pass early in the year via traditional means, you will keep it through to the end of 2020—the better part of two years.
If you already hold the business card and can put significant spend on it, or you qualify for both a business and personal Southwest card, you may also be better off chasing a Companion Pass down by traditional means, and securing it for up to two years, rather than the one-year deal on the table with this offer.
If you’re under 5/24 and fly Southwest even a few times per year with a companion, we’d recommend getting on board with this offer. A Southwest Companion Pass is an exceptionally valuable travel tool that can save you thousands of dollars per year. Remember, this offer is only good through February 11, 2018, so you only have a short timeframe to get an application in and secure this offer. And, we think it’s worth mentioning that, before the year is out, Southwest will most likely be flying to Hawaii, and two-for-one flights to the Hawaiian Islands is a good deal by anyone’s standards.
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