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The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is an elite travel benefit that’s almost too good to be true. This pass allows another passenger to fly with you for free (plus taxes) an unlimited number of times for the life of the pass. Traditionally, the pass is valid for the rest of the year it’s earned, plus the entire following year.
However, there are also occasions when Southwest extends limited-time opportunities to earn special versions of the pass, which come with different expiration dates. And thanks to some unique Southwest credit card offers, there’s actually an incredibly easy way to earn this pass right now from the comfort of your house — with little effort required.
How does this work? And is it something you should do? Let’s dig into the details and find out if getting a Southwest Companion Pass makes sense for you.
The Southwest Companion Pass is truly a no-strings-attached perk, as it comes with very few restrictions. The pass allows you to bring a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, plus the cost of any taxes and fees, which are generally as low as $5.60 one way for a domestic flight.
The one main rule of the Companion Pass is there must be at least one seat available for sale in any fare class on a flight for which you’ve purchased your own ticket, either with cash or Southwest points.
On a standard-length Companion Pass, you’re allowed to change your companion up to three times per year (not including the initial companion), meaning in theory you could have as many as seven people as your companion over two calendar years.
Normally, to earn the pass, you must earn 125,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying flights with Southwest in a calendar year. These points can be earned in three ways: paid flights booked through Southwest, base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners and points earned on Southwest credit cards.
That last method is the most important one, because right now, the sign-up offers on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card all include a Southwest Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on the card within the first three months.
This means instead of having to fly dozens of flights or spend a ton of money on your credit card, just applying for one of these three personal Southwest credit cards and meeting the minimum spending requirement will earn you the pass right away.
But there’s one catch: This is a promotional Companion Pass, and the expiration date differs from a normal pass. Instead of having the pass for the rest of the year it’s earned plus the entire following year, this particular Companion Pass is only valid through February 28, 2023.
While that’s obviously a shorter time frame, you’ll still have the pass for essentially an entire year, and you’ll be getting it right away. But if you still want a normal-length Southwest Companion Pass that’s valid for up to two years, there are also ways to get one using the current Southwest credit card offers. You just need to think creatively about which credit cards you apply for.
There are currently a total of five Southwest credit cards — three personal and two business — with sign- up offers that either come with or help you earn a Companion Pass. Here’s an overview of them:
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn the Southwest Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn the Southwest Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn the Southwest Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months. Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account. The first three cards on the list are the personal Southwest credit cards — the Southwest Plus card, the Southwest Premier card and the Southwest Priority card. All three of these cards currently come with a limited-time Southwest Companion Pass as part of their sign-up bonuses.
Now, the value of this offer truly depends on how much you’ll utilize the pass. If you’re planning on jetsetting every week over the next year, the pass will be worth significantly more than if you find yourself only flying once in a blue moon. Even if you only fly a handful of times (or less) within the next 12 months, having your companion fly with you for free (plus taxes and fees) can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, if you’re currently staying put and you don’t expect to travel much (or at all) in the next 12 months, then this is not the right offer — or time — to apply for these cards.
However, let’s take a look at the other two credit cards on the list above. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card, you can earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months.
After meeting this spending requirement, you’d end up with 85,000 qualifying points — 80,000 bonus points, plus 5,000 points for spending $5,000 on the card. Then you’ll only need another 40,000 points in 2022 to earn a true full-length Southwest Companion Pass, meaning it’ll be valid through December 31, 2023. And there are many ways to earn the remaining points, such as regular spending on your Southwest credit card, flying on eligible Southwest fares or using the Southwest shopping portal.
Finally, there’s also the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card, but the offer on this card is somewhat inferior to the others, as you’ll only earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.
Now, there’s still a way to earn a full-length Companion Pass by getting two Southwest credit cards and combining the bonus points from both.
The important caveat here is that you can’t apply for two personal cards — the second card must be a business credit card. That’s because Chase — the bank that issues Southwest credit cards — limits customers to having just one personal Southwest credit card open at a time. But Chase does allow you to apply for both a personal card and a business card.
Just keep in mind that the credit cards must be for the same applicant — you can’t combine points amongst members. Also, Chase became somewhat more restrictive about issuing business credit cards during the pandemic, though you may have more luck now in 2022.
Let’s put it all together in an example. Imagine you apply for both the Southwest Plus card and the Southwest Performance Business card. By just completing the spending requirement on the Southwest Plus, you’ll earn the promotional Companion Pass right away without any flying, extra spending or partner activity since it’s part of the sign-up bonus on that card. So you’ll be already set through Feb. 28 of next year.
But in addition to the promotional Companion Pass, you also earn 30,000 bonus points on the Southwest Plus card for completing the $5,000 minimum spending requirement, And you’ll get 80,000 bonus points from the Southwest Performance Business after spending $5,000 on that card in the first three months after opening it.
With this $10,000 in combined purchases between the two cards, you’ll earn a total of 120,000 qualifying points — 110,000 points from the sign-up bonuses and 10,000 points from the purchases you make in meeting the spending requirements. That’s only 15,000 points short of earning a standard Companion Pass that runs all the way until the end of 2023.
You can also do this with the Southwest Premier Business card. If you’re a new card holder and spend $3,000 on that card within the first three months after opening the account, you’ll earn 60,000 points. Add that to the $5,000 you’d need to spend on one of the personal cards to earn the short-term Companion Pass and 30,000 points and you’ll have a total of 98,000 points — 90,000 from the sign-up bonus, plus another 8,000 points from spending $8,000 between the two cards.
That puts you just 27,000 points shy of the 125,000-point threshold, which you can earn through flying on Southwest, partner activity or spending on either card. And fortunately, you have all year to earn those last 27,000 points.
With three different personal Southwest credit cards, you might be wondering which card is best for you. With the Southwest Plus, Southwest Premier and Southwest Priority cards, you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on local transit, commuting (including ride-shares), internet, cable, phone services and select streaming pu
Here’s how to fly with a friend or family member for free until 2023
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