I am now on my way to get the golden ticket for airfare for my wife and I.
It is called the Southwest (SW) Companion Pass.
What is the SW Companion Pass?
The SW Companion Pass is a frequent flyer perk/benefit that allows you to add a designated companion to any flight booked on Southwest. This includes flights paid with cash or miles. This is why I call it the golden ticket to travel for two. To make it even better, you can essentially get this perk for two years. The Companion Pass is valid for the year you earned it through the end of the following year. For instance, if I earn it in April 2016, I’ll be able to use this benefit until December 2017.
How do I get my hands on one of these companion passes?
There are two ways to earn the companion pass. Fly 100 SW flights or earn 110,000 SW points in a calendar year. Both of these methods seem rather unlikely unless you are a business traveler who consistently flies on SW.
So how am I earning my SW Companion Pass?
The short answer: credit card bonuses.
Chase offers three different Southwest Credit Cards:
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business
All three of these cards typically have signup bonuses of 50,000 Rapid Rewards miles. This means you can apply for two of these cards and receive 100,000 miles. These miles count towards the 110,000 mile requirement to earn the companion pass. To receive the sign up bonus you have to spend $2,000 in the first three months. To earn the miles on two different cards, you’ll have to spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening the credit card accounts. This means you’ll have 100,000 miles from the signup bonus plus approximately 4,000 miles from spending $4,000.
That’s 104,000 of the 110,000 points needed to earn the companion pass. To get the final 6,000 points you can either spend $6,000 on your credit card, earn 6,000 miles by flying on Southwest, or transfer points from a hotel program. It is worth noting that there are certain types of points that are not eligible for earning towards the companion pass. For instance, if you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your Southwest Rapid Rewards these miles do not count. However, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt Gold Passport and then transfer Hyatt Points to Southwest Rapid Rewards (this is what I ended up doing).
Remember the companion pass lasts the entire year you earned it plus the following year. So since we will earn my companion pass in March 2016, that means it doesn’t expire until December 2017. This means we’ll get roughly 21 months of use! My wife and I are looking forward to exploring the US during long weekends. It is basically a 2 for 1 deal, which will save us a ton of money over the next two years. Not to mention you now have 110,000 points to spend on flights.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you decide to go for the companion pass:
- All 110,000 points must be earned in the same calendar year. This means if you earn 60,000 points as of 12/31/15 and then 50,000 points in 1/1/16 you will not get a Companion Pass.
- Timing your credit card applications is key. Points from the Southwest credit card post a couple days after your statement closes. This means you can apply for the cards in early November. You’ll have 3 months to meet the minimum spend, which means as long as you don’t meet the minimum spend until early January the points will post at the beginning of the new calendar year. This will effectively allow you to benefit from the Companion Pass for two years.
- If you apply for both Southwest personal credit cards on the same day, the hard pull will be combined on your credit report.
- You don’t need to have 110,000 Rapid Rewards point in your Southwest account. You just need to earn 110,000 points in a calendar year.
- Certain points do not count towards the Companion Pass: points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, points purchased, and points transferred from another Southwest account.
- As of 5/23/16, Chase Southwest cards are under the 5/24 rule, which means if you have 5 new credit card accounts if the past 24 months you will most likely get denied.
- You can change your designated companion three times per calendar year.
If you do decide to apply for the Chase Southwest credit cards, I would love if you used my referral links (which will give me 5,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards miles). If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.