One of the coolest and most lucrative travel perks we earned in 2019 was the Southwest Companion Pass which allows you to travel with a designated friend or family member practically free! It can be used whether you pay for your ticket or redeem Rapid Reward points for you and then bring your Companion along for just the cost of the taxes and fees.
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You can change your designated Companion up to three times per year for each year you maintain your Companion Pass. Note that you will need to call Southwest Airlines to change your designated Companion.
There is an obvious cost to earning this benefit. Beginning January 1, 2020 you need to earn 125,000 qualifying points or travel on 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year to earn a Companion Pass. For 2019 the qualifying points needed was 110,000 so it will take a little longer to earn through qualifying points. Once earned, the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year you earn it plus the entire next year. So if you meet the requirements early in the year you get to use the pass for nearly 2 years.
One of the quickest ways to earn the required number of points is to sign up for Southwest’s credit cards. Since, as of this writing, points you earn from any sign-up bonuses count toward the 125,000 points required to qualify for the pass, signing up for two cards (one personal and one for a small business) can bring you close to reaching that threshold.
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Timing when those bonus points post to your account becomes critical, posting in the wrong year could cause you to miss out altogether. Our suggestion is to apply for both cards (personal and business) either toward the end of the year or beginning of a new year. This allows you to begin working toward your minimum spending target to earn your bonuses. If you sign up toward the end of the year just be careful not to earn those bonuses until after the beginning of the next year. In fact you might want to wait for your first statement to cycle after January 1st to reach the cards spending target just to be sure. That’s what we did, together with timing our credit card usage and purchasing through the Southwest shopping portal, we were able to earn our Companion Pass in February, making it valid for 22 months!
Of course we always recommend spending within your means and always paying off your credit card bills in full each month and on time. Allowing debt to compound each month with interest charges defeats the purpose and benefits of earning travel rewards using this method,
Other Ways To Earn Points
Every paid flight booked on Southwest will count toward earning the Companion Pass.
While using your credit card will continue to earn Rapid Reward points, look to the Southwest Shopping Portal when shopping online in order to earn bonus points through participating stores. Consider installing the browser button to be notified when visiting any of the over 850 participating stores.
Dining out is an easy way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards from participating restaurants. Just sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining to enroll your credit card, it doesn’t even have to be a Southwest credit card. Then use your enrolled cards at participating restaurants.
Earn Rapid Rewards through Southwest partner hotels including Best Western, Radisson, Choice, Marriott, Hyatt, MGM, SPG or book your stay through Rocket Miles. See southwest.com for more info.
When renting a car you can choose to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards as your airline partner. Southwest partners with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty. Note that this option may not be available at all locations or with some discounted rates. See southwest.com for details.
Send flowers and gourmet gifts with 1-800-Flowers®. See southwest.com for more info.
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The Southwest Companion pass is a worthwhile benefit to strive for. Remember the earlier in the year you earn it the more time you’ll have to enjoy it’s benefits. Regardless of whether you earn it in the beginning of a calendar year or the end, the Companion Pass will expire on December 31st of the following year. Click to compare Southwest Credit Cards.