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Okay okay, so we talked pretty in-depth about how much we love the Southwest credit cards. The points you can use for flights are pretty easy to accumulate and even easier to spend! But! I can do you one better today with this information. Cue the Rocky music and enter: the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. Applause, applause.
You guys, this little friend of ours is a travel hacker’s dream!
What is it?
Well for starters, it’s amazing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What it is is a status you reach that allows you to fly with one other person for free (plus taxes and fees, which is typically $5.60 each flight). Not just one time, but EVERY FLIGHT. So if you book a flight and want to bring a friend, child, significant other, sibling, or support llama with you, you can! It doesn’t matter if you booked your flight with points or cash, if there is a seat available, you can book it for your companion. Once you get the Pass, it is available for the rest of the calendar year, as well as all of the next one!
So remember all of those points that we talked about accumulating with the sign on bonus? With the Companion Pass, they will go twice as far! APPLY HERE!
It is super easy to use too. Once you book a flight, all you have to do is go into your reservation and click on the “Add Companion” button! You can change your companion up to three times in a year if needed. So for us, I am currently listed as Philip’s companion. If he was wanting to take a kid with him on this trip (he surely does not), he would need to call to have his companion changed. And then it stays that new person until he calls to change it back to someone else.
How do you get it?
I thought you’d never ask! There are two ways. The first way to earn it is to fly 100 one-way flights in one year. So fifty round trip flights, easy peasy! Well for some travelers, sure. For me, not so much. So let’s jump in to the other option.
The second way is to earn 125,000 points in one calendar year. Now that may seem like a lot, but here is where that sign on bonus you earned really comes in handy! Remember how right now you can earn 50,000 points for a sign on bonus, and then an additional 30,000 if you hit a $10,000 in nine months? Those all count toward the companion pass!
On top of that, this year Southwest is making it easier to earn the Companion Pass by gifting points towards it! So if you already had a Rapid Rewards account at the end of 2020 (make sure to enter that number when signing up for a new card) there will be 25,000 points already in your total progress chart. So APPLY NOW!
You can see in my chart, it shows my total at 78, 175. That is from the 25,000 that was the gift from Southwest, plus the 50,000 bonus points I already got from hitting my $2000 minimum spend, plus the 1 point per dollar for the spending I did on the card. It adds up so quickly!
Between the gifted points, the bonus points, and your spending to get the bonus points (25K + 50K + 30K + 10K) you will be at 115,000 points and only need 10,000 more to get your companion pass for 2021 AND 2022!
When should I try to get the Companion Pass?
Right now. Like now now. The best time to start working towards getting the Companion Pass is at the beginning of a calendar year. So NOW IS THE TIME!!! Since the total points need to be accumulated all in one year, it’s best to start working on it early. The earlier you can earn it, the longer you can use it this year and then all of next! And another great thing about Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program is that points show up instantly. No waiting 6-8 weeks to earn bonuses or rewards. I literally applied for my card the first week of January, got it the second week and immediately spent $3000 (thanks hospital bills and life insurance). At the end of the third week, the statement closed (which I will admit is a very short billing cycle), and my points were in my account within days!
I’m hoping that with our normal spending and fingers crossed for a referral bonus or two (those count towards your point total too!) that I can get a companion pass by this summer! The really great thing is that Philip earned one last year, so his is still good through the end of this year. So technically, we could go somewhere with our family of seven and only have to pay for three people! I mean, do I think it sounds super fun to travel with all seven of us? Especially since two are lap children? Not super. But hey! It’s an option! Or more likely, we could somehow bamboozle a sweet friend or family member into coming with us and being an extra set of adult hands. Now that sounds like a plan!
What if you miss the extra bonus points? Any way to get points besides regular spending?
For sure! One way is to open a business card in addition to the personal card, because then you can get a sign on bonus for both cards! We were able to do that last year and that is how Philip got his. The trick is being able to spend enough on two different cards to get those bonuses.
However, that’s not always an option. So in addition to sign on bonuses from the credit cards, and the regular spend on your cards, you can also get bonuses from the types of things you spend on. If you’d like to book hotels or cars for a vacation through the Southwest website, you’ll be able to get more points for those stays. There is also a shopping portal that you can shop through that will provide extra points. I don’t think they are the best deals out there, but it is indeed an option.
There are also a handful of promotions that Southwest will run throughout the year. Sometimes it is earning extra points on money spent at a grocery store. Or recently there was one that if you booked two round trip flights, you’d be awarded 5000 points. Typically they will send out emails and all you need to do is log on the website and click on them to sign up.
Overall though, I think most experts would agree that sign on bonuses are the easiest way to accumulate points for the Companion Pass! So APPLY NOW!