Three New Changes to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Program
Southwest began sending out notifications that they will be making some changes to their frequent flyer program starting in October 2019. Often times when these alerts come out, we fear for the worst news possible. Fortunately, the first change is actually one that helps customers!
Southwest Points No Longer Expire
Woohoo! Starting on October 17th, 2019, Southwest Airlines Points will no longer expire. I really like that more and more airlines are changing to the no expiration date policy. United Airlines was the last to do it a few months ago. You’ll find our full guide to all of the other airlines and what their points expiration policies are here.
New Taxes & Fees for Sameday Standby Customers
A-List and A-List Preferred members have always been able to change their flights for free on the same day they are traveling to a standby ticket, if available. This is a nice perk of having A-List status with Southwest Airlines. Starting on January 1st, 2021 members who choose to change their flight using the Sameday Standby option will have to pay the government taxes and fees associated with the new flight.
New Companion Pass Points Requirement
For years Southwest Frequent Flyers could either accumulate 110,000 Southwest Points in the same calendar year or fly 100 One-Way flight segments in order to earn the Companion Pass.
The Southwest Companion Pass is essentially a Buy-One-Get-One FREE Pass that is good for the remainder of the year that it is earned and the entire following year. The only costs to the customer for using the pass are the government taxes and fees. These fees work out to be $5.60 each way on domestic flights which aren’t bad at all!
Unfortunately, starting on January 1st, 2020 Southwest Customers will now need to accrue an additional 15,000 southwest points in order to earn a companion pass. The new total will be 125,000 Southwest Points earned in the same calendar year in order to qualify for the companion pass.
Our Basic Verdict
Is this the worst news? No, I don’t believe so. They certainly could have raised it even higher which would have made it more difficult to achieve the 125,000 point requirement. If you’ve read our guide to the Southwest Companion Pass then you’ll know that basic travelers typically earn the pass by opening up two Southwest Credit Cards and combining the bonus. This strategy can certainly still be used, however, it will now take more points or spending on the credit cards in order to meet the 125,000 minimum points required.
Based on the offers available right now, the Southwest Premier Business Credit Card is offering a signup bonus of 60,000 Points after $3,000 spent in the first 90 days. Southwest personal Credit Card offers usually have 40,000 Points after spending $1,000 spent in the first 90 days. This would put someone at 104,000 points with 21,000 points remaining. That is a decent amount of spending left however it could be achieved quickly if you and your soon-to-be companion worked together on meeting it. With taxes coming up in January that can be charged to a card and put towards the 21,000 minimum points required. Big home improvement jobs and medical work that you can get reimbursed can also a nice way to meet that spending requirement.
Earn 80,000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. This is a great card for business owners. Learn More Here.
All in all, I still LOVE the companion pass and believe it’s still one of the best Basic Travel strategies out there. Lisa and I have traveled all over the United States and have visited a handful of Caribbean islands using the companion pass. We certainly would have not had the number of points or cash required to take all of those trips without the benefit of buy-one-get-one-free flights!