Southwest Companion Pass: 3 Chase Credit Cards with 60k Bonus Points Each

swa_logoUpdated. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly free with you on both paid and award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the following full calendar year. For example, if you earned it in March 2017, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

As of March 31st, 2017, Southwest ended the ability to transfer hotel points to qualify for the Companion Pass. Therefore, I have removed a big chunk of this original post.

However, points earned from credit cards still count, including sign-up bonuses. As such, it is notable that all three Chase credit cards currently have a limited-time offer of 60,000 bonus points. Picking any two cards and qualifying for the bonus will get you there with no flying at all with an upfront cost as low as 69 + 99 = $168 in annual fees.

  • Chase Southwest Plus consumer card is offering 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $69 annual fee applies. 3,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee).
  • Chase Southwest Premier consumer card is offering 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.
  • Chase Southwest Premier Business card offers 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language:

This product is available if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Because the companion pass counts for the calendar year of qualification and the next full calendar year, you can still time things so that you have Companion Pass most of the time (assuming these credit card bonuses stay this high).

In addition, you can use all those points for free flights alongside your new Companion Pass. 110,000 Rapid Rewards points transfers roughly to $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). If $1,700 would have theoretically covered 16 free one-way flights, then with the Companion Pass you’d be getting 16 free one-way flights for two people.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 120,000 Southwest points from signing up for just two credit cards with required total annual fees as low as $168. That’s enough points to automatically qualify for the Southwest Companion pass. With the 120k bonus points and Companion Pass, you’d have roughly 16 free one-way flights for two people. Not bad for $170. Explore the country!

Hyatt Credit Card – Two Free Nights Offer Changing to 40,000 Points on 6/29

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The Hyatt Credit Card is changing their sign-up bonus on 6/29/17. For now, you can get two free night awards after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. The free nights are valid for a standard room at any Hyatt hotel worldwide with no blackout dates, no resort fees, but expire within one year of issuance. You can also get 5,000 Hyatt points after adding an authorized user and having them make a first purchase in the first 3 months from account opening. This alternate link adds a $50 statement credit but says nothing about an authorized user bonus. Take your pick.

The new offer is supposed to be 40,000 Hyatt points after spending $2,000 within your first 3 months of cardmembership. The question is then:

What is better: Two free nights at any Hyatt hotel or 40,000 Hyatt points?

The overall answer is you should apply for the current offer if you have an aspirational hotel you want to stay at within the next year or so. Here is a screenshot of their award chart:

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As you can see, the best Hyatt hotels cost more than 20,000 Hyatt points per night, with a cash cost of $500+ per night. Some examples of these Category 6 and 7 properties:

There are about 50 hotels worldwide that at Cat 6 and Cat 7. If you don’t want to stay at one of those, then you should take the flexibility of the 40,000 Hyatt points. You don’t need to use them within a year, and you can also use Points + Cash redemptions if you want.

If you have any problems booking your award nights, I would first try using the phone and calling. If that doesn’t work, use the power of social media and contact their Gold Passport “Concierges” @hyattconcierge on Twitter.

Card highlights.

  • $75 annual fee. Not waived the first year.
  • Free Category 1-4 award night upon renewal. Upon annual fee renewal, you will also receive a free night certificate valid for Category 1-4 hotels. Category 3-4 hotels can easily run $200 to $300 per night.
  • Free Discoverist member status. Automatic as long as your card is open. This gets you minor room upgrades when available, premium internet access, and late 2pm checkout.
  • Explorist status after you spend $50,000 or more on purchases in a calendar year. Perks include guaranteed room availability up to 72 hours in advance, 4 Club lounge access awards and more.
  • 3 Bonus Points per $1 spent at all Hyatt hotels and resorts. 2 Bonus Points per $1 spent at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies. 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on all other purchases made with your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Restrictions. This Chase Hyatt card is not subject to “5/24” restrictions, although it will count as an opened card for other 5/24 cards. Our strategy is to have one person apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else like these. However, there is this language:

This product is available if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Bottom line. I enjoy using hotel awards to stay at luxurious places where I would balk at paying the full cash cost. Nights-based awards are nice for such aspirational stays. You can get $1,000+ value out of two free unrestricted night awards. The award certificates do expire after a year though, so you might prefer to wait for a points award with additional flexibility. I might even wait for an improved limited-time offer or something. But if you’ve been waiting on this bonus, you need to make a decision soon.

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