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Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like Cardratings.com. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any partner entities.

Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is the single greatest travel perk available. If you regularly fly Southwest with another person, it can be worth planning your 5/24 applications to earn this valuable perk. Timed correctly, you can hold the Companion Pass for almost 24 months. Fall is the ideal time to shoot for the Southwest Companion Pass, and we will show you how.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to bring a companion for free on as many flights as you want. You can earn the Companion Pass in one of two ways. You must either earn 135,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in the same calendar year.

Once you earn the Companion Pass, it's valid until December 31 of the following year. So if you earn the Companion Pass at any time in 2024, it's valid until December 31, 2025! If you earn the Companion Pass in January, you can take advantage of it for basically two years. You would get to fly with your companion for half off on as many flights as you want over the next 18+ months!

Southwest Companion Pass

There are no gimmicks or tricks. Any time you want to fly your companion with you, the only cost is the taxes ($5.60 each way for domestic flights). You cannot book a companion to fly by themselves. Your companion must fly with you on your same flight.

The one restriction is that you can only change your companion 3 times per calendar year.

Here is how this perk gets even better: earning the Southwest Companion Pass doesn't cost you 135,000 Rapid Rewards points. Once you earn 135,000 points and receive the Companion Pass, those 135,000 points are still yours to use. You can use those points to book flights for yourself and then add your companion for free! These 135,000 points are worth about $1,800 in travel ($3,600 once you tack on your free companion).

If you travel so much that you use up all 135,000 points booking flights, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest (at 1:1) for more free flights for the two of you.

how to earn southwest companion pass

How to Earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards Points

Assuming you are not flying 100 flights in a calendar year, the easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is by earning 135,000 Rapid Rewards in a calendar year.

Southwest credit card holders receive 10,000 non-redeemable, but Companion Pass-eligible miles. This reduces the requirement for the Companion Pass down to 125,000 miles. This gives us 3 options for earning the Companion Pass with credit card welcome offers, which we rank below in our recommended order.

Note: All of these applications require you to be under 5/24. The business cards do not add to the 5/24 count.

Not sure whether you qualify for business cards? Check out this post.

Option 1

Chase does not let you hold multiple Southwest personal cards. So the best current method of earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points is applying for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, which has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. This card has a $199 annual fee.

You can then add one of the personal cards, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. This card has a welcome offer of 75,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. This card has a $69 annual fee.

With this approach, we recommend starting with the Performance Business card and waiting at least 30 days to apply for one of the personal cards.

These two welcome offers alone get you way over the 125,000 points you need, which earns you the Companion Pass. And you will still have over 160,000 points to actually redeem for Southwest flights. This is by far the best option for earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

travel hacking

Option 2

If you want to save on annual fees or have a lower minimum spend requirement, then this option might be for you. Instead of opening the Performance Business card, you can open the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and one of the personal cards. The Premier Business card has a lower annual fee of $99 (instead of $199).

A lower annual fee also means a lower welcome offer. The Premier Business card's current welcome offer is 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

With the 60,000 points from the Premier Business card and the 75,000 points from one of the personal cards, you will earn 135,000 points and earn the Companion Pass. This doesn’t even account for the points you will earn from the minimum spend requirement on each of the cards.

For this option, we recommend starting with the Premier Business card and waiting at least 30 days to apply for one of the personal cards.This option is similar to Option 1 above since it requires opening a business card and a personal card. Since you’re opening a business card anyway, you might as well go for the higher welcome offer from the Performance Business card under Option 1. We’re talking about a $100 difference in annual fee that costs you 20,000 Southwest points. Paying $100 for 20,000 Southwest points is a good deal, even with a slightly higher minimum spend requirement.

award travel

Option 3

This last option is for folks who do not want to open a Southwest personal card. Chase lets you hold the two Southwest business credit cards. So you can reach 125,000 points just with the 80,000 points from the Performance Business card welcome offer and the 60,000 points from the Premier Business welcome offer.

This method looks really easy, and it can be. But opening two Southwest business cards for the Companion Pass is not helpful in the long-term. Chase will only approve you for so many business cards. This second Southwest business card will essentially take the spot of what could be another Chase Ink Cash, Cash Ink Unlimited or a Chase Ink Preferred card.

Put another way, you would forego earning another Ink card welcome offer to earn a Southwest Companion Pass when you don't need to because other methods are available.

Lastly, keep in mind that points transfers do not count towards earning the Companion Pass. You cannot earn the CP by transferring points over from Chase or Marriott. Buying points also does not count towards earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

companion pass

Southwest Companion Pass: Credit Card Application Rules

Chase has a few rules for Southwest credit cards. First and most important of course is 5/24. Make sure you are confident in your current 5/24 status.

Next, for each of the Southwest personal credit cards, you cannot hold more than one Southwest personal card. So if you already have any of the 3 Southwest personal cards, you must cancel that card if you want to apply for a new one. Also, you will not qualify for a welcome offer for a Southwest personal card if you've earned a welcome offer from any Southwest personal card within the past 24 months.

Chase's rules for Southwest business cards are slightly more lenient. You cannot open a Southwest business credit card if you already have that same card. This means you can have one of each of the two Southwest business cards. You just cannot have two of the same card. Meanwhile, you will not qualify for a sign-up bonus for a Southwest business card if you've earned a sign-up bonus from that same Southwest business card within the past 24 months.

If you do not meet Chase's rules for card and bonus eligibility above, you will not be able to get the Southwest Companion Pass through credit card welcome offers.

Timing of the Southwest Credit Card Applications and Meeting Minimum Spend

October through December is the time to apply! You will then have about 105 days to meet your minimum spend. (Chase typically gives extra time to complete the minimum spend.)

Do NOT put much spend on your new Southwest credit card in 2023. Do NOT get close to the minimum spend in 2023. Chase is notorious for awarding Southwest welcome offers early if you get close to the minimum spend amount. Sometimes Chase grants the welcome offer even if you are as far away as $1,000 from meeting the minimum spend. Plan to wait until AFTER your December 2023 statement cuts to hit the minimum spend. Ideally, you should wait until January 1, 2024 if you can, just to be safe.

southwest companion pass

We see dozens of horror stories every year where people lose track of their spending and hit the welcome offer too early. Remember, BOTH welcome offers must hit your Southwest account in the year you want your CP to begin. If one welcome offer posts on December 31 and the other posts on January 1, then you won't get a CP with those welcome offers.

Also, once you have your business card and your first statement closes, we recommend changing your statement close date. Ideally, you should request sometime between the 7th and the 10th of the month. You can do this by sending a secured message to Chase. This means your third statement will close on January 7-10, 2024. So as long as you start spending after your December 2023 statement, your welcome offer will post after the January 2024 statement.

While you're at it, you can also ask Chase to confirm the deadline for meeting the minimum spend requirement. This way you have a firm deadline in writing.

Southwest Companion Pass: ToP Thoughts

The key to getting the Southwest Companion Pass for as long as possible is organization. Know and understand your 5/24 status. Check when was the last time you received a welcome offer for a Southwest card. Make sure you're ready and eligible for applying for a Southwest business card. Have a good plan for meeting minimum spend on both cards. And, most importantly, do not come close to meeting your minimum spend until after January 1!

Do you plan to earn the Southwest Companion Pass this year? Join the discussion in our Facebook group!

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