Southwest Companion Pass: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier + Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Cards

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swa_logoSouthwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book your own paid and/or award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, 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 September 2018, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count, including sign-up bonuses. You can earn very close to the 110,000 points required from just two credit cards.

southwestbusinessSouthwest Rapid Rewards 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.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card (Personal/Consumer) is offering 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 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 on the consumer card:

This product is available to you if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months. (Before, for example, you might apply for both a Plus and a Premier close together.)

110,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. If $1,700 would have theoretically covered 16 free one-way flights, then with the Companion Pass you’d now be getting 16 free one-way flights for two people! You also can’t forget that Southwest still has the customer-friendly perk of two free checked bags per person. That’s a lot of free and flexible travel.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. Just the free award flights from the points are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the value of the companion tickets.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 100,000 Southwest points from just two credit card sign-up bonuses, which is very close to the 110,000 points needed to qualify for the Southwest Companion pass (and a lot of free Southwest flights). This would get you a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person.

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  1. When you say this only counts until March 2017, will they be doing away with the hotel+flight package counting towards companion status?

    • Yes, you can still do the transfer after 3/31/17, but the 120,000 Southwest points coming from Marriott hotel points will no longer qualify you for the Companion Pass. You’ll still get the points and the nights though.

  2. From the Southwest web page:

    *Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners. Purchased points, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and partner bonuses (excluding points bonuses earned on the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not count toward Companion Pass.

    Where did you see that will accept conversion points until March 31st? Thanks

  3. I’m trying to transfer Marriott points to SW to get the Companion Pass and maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think your math adds up. In your post, it says that 270,000 Marriott points = 120,000 SW points, but I’m not seeing where that is the case. The only increments I see online are to transfer 70,000 Marriott points for 25,000 SW points (that is the best ratio, like you wrote). At that ratio, I would need to buy 125,000 SW points to pass the 110,000 point threshold for the Companion Pass. 125,000 SW points would cost me 70,000 = 25,000 x 5 or 70,000 x 5 = 350,000 Marriott points. Is there something I’m missing? I’m really hoping I am because I currently have about 285,000 Marriott points. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks

  4. Jonathan –

    This is an amazing deal even with the annual fees.

    Also, $LUV hit a new all time high 3 days ago.

    The Year To Date return is 23%.


  5. Hello,
    Quick question- do you need to have 110,000 points in your account at once, or just to have earned 110,000 points in a year? For instance, I’ve gotten one 60,000 pt card bonus this year, but was planning on using the points for a trip. So even if I got another 60,000 pts this year, my total balance would never be 110,000. Would I still qualify for the pass?
    Thank you!

  6. I currently have the CSR, but just hit my minimum spend. I will definitely be considering these for my next travel hack card. 🙂

  7. nice timing. I prefer to ride inside the plane. You get what you pay for. Pass…

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