Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Southwest Companion Pass Season is now in full swing. If you don’t know what the Southwest Companion Pass is, it is essentially buy one get one free flights as long as there is a seat available. We have used this ‘pass’ dozens of times since 2017 and it has saved thousands of dollars. If you want to see examples of how it works, read to the end of the article and we linked a bunch of trips/examples we have taken.
Now we are going to teach you how to get the amazing Southwest Companion Pass. If you haven’t heard, Southwest just came out with NEW requirements to the Southwest Companion pass for 2020. Be sure to check them out!
What is Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion pass, according to Southwest’s website is ‘the benefit that allows you to choose one person to fly with you, free of airline charges (does not include taxes and fees from $5.60 one way) every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight.”
Once you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you can use it as many times as you want for the remainder of the current calendar year you are in, as well as the entire following calendar year.
Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
There are two ways you can actually earn the companion pass.
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights (this is A LOT OF FLYING)
- Earn 110,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year **As of January 1st 2020 the required points will increase to 125,000 For the remainder of 2019, it is still 110,000 RR points.
Unless you fly every week already, option one is going to be a little more challenging, and not to mention expensive.
Option two, however, is much faster and easier to obtain. You can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points quickly by opening 2 (two) Southwest Credit Cards for the sign-up bonuses. I have seen these bonuses range from 40,000-80,000 Rapid Rewards Points. The best time to open a new card is when they are higher bonuses, but also you want to make sure you can maximize the time of year you are opening.
Types of Southwest Credit Cards
There are currently 5 Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card Offers. Three of them are personal, and two of them are Business.
You are only allowed to receive ONE bonus on personal cards every 24 months, and you can only have one Southwest Personal Credit Card in your possession at a time. What this means is you’d have to open ONE Personal Card and ONE Business Credit Card. A second option is to get TWO of the Business Cards. (Check out our overview of the latest Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card.)
In order to apply for both cards, you MUST be under 5/24 (Read the Chase 5/24 rules if you don’t know what that is). If you qualify for this, then you are good to go.
To learn more to apply for either of the cards, you can click here.
Your companion is essentially whoever you choose it to be. Even if you don’t have a ‘companion’ such as a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/child. Your companion can be a parent, your friend, your neighbor, doesn’t matter!
You can change your companion up to 3 times per the calendar year and travel with your ‘companion’ as many times as you’d like!
There are no blackout dates. The ONE limit is you cannot book a companion if you are already a companion on someone else’s ticket.
So let’s say Dave and I both have the Companion Pass. I book him on a flight as my companion. He cannot then add someone to his flight as his companion.
This would be great for us, but not so much for Southwest.
How long Does it last for?
This pass lasts the entire rest of the year you earn it, PLUS the ENTIRE FOLLOWING YEAR!!!
So if you earn it in November of 2019, you’d have it November 2019 through December 2020 (14 months). BUT, if you earn it in January 2020, you’d have it the remainder of 2020 AND all of 2021. This gives you 23-24 months of Southwest Companion Pass.
How often can you use it?
Another great thing about the companion pass is you can book a companion fare as long as there is an available seat on the flight.
It does not matter if the fare is a wanna get-away fare, a business fare, or an anytime fare that is available.
You can also book AS MANY flights as you want with no restrictions as to how often you use the pass.
Basic Southwest Companion Pass Overview:
Step 1: Open a Southwest Business card. Come close to meeting minimum spend but leave about $500 prior to January 1. After January 1, 2020, hit the rest of the spend.
Step 2: 30 days later, open a Southwest personal card OR the other Southwest Business Card. If it is in the new year, you can hit the spend. If not, spend up to $500 left and then wait until after January 1 to hit the spend.
Step 3: To get the Southwest Companion Pass, you must earn 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points. Figure out how many points you have left to earn. If you got a Business Card for 70,000 and a personal card for 40,000, you would have 116,000 points. (70,000 plus the $5,000 you had to spend would be 75,000 points and then 40,000 points plus the $1,000 you had to spend so 41,000 points). So you’d have to earn 9,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points to complete earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
Step 4: You will see on Southwest.com on your account once you’ve earned the pass.
Step 5: Once you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you can now book your companion on any flights! You can also use the points to book your flight, and then book your companion fare. (Keep in mind you always pay taxes. They are $5.60 each way, and per person for domestic flights. So you and a partner can go roundtrip somewhere for X number of Rapid Rewards points, and $11.20 each!) Be sure to keep up to date with our latest Southwest Fare Release Schedule.
Other ways to Earn Rapid Rewards Points
1. Spend Money on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card.
Switch all monthly recurring bills to your new Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card. You can pick one or the other to make it easier. Those monthly recurring bills add up. Think Cell Phone, Internet, Cable, Gas, Electric, etc.
2. Refer your Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card
You will earn 10,000 points per approved referral. These can add up quickly and help you reach those last-minute needed points!
3. Earn with Southwest Partners
Visit Southwest’s “Earn with Partners” page to see the ways you can earn points with their partners. They are broken down into 5 categories.
Credit Cards- we already covered this above.
- Travel- Southwest Hotels, Rental Cars, Ground Transportation and experiences. Basically book through Southwest’s website for popular travel options and get rewards with extra RR points!
Shop & Dine- Southwest Rapid Rewards Portal. This is similar to Rakuten eBates or BeFrugal. Log in to the portal and do your normal online shopping, get rewarded with extra RR points.
Home & Lifestyle- Change over your electric to NRG and get extra points! This one is unfortunately not available in all states but if it was available in NY I would have already switched over.
Specialty- this includes other offers such as taking surveys for points!
4. Check to see if you are targeted for bonus offers
Every now and again Southwest comes up with certain targeted bonus offers. Recently they came out with a 25% bonus based on a certain amount of spend. You can read more about our dedicated article. I have seen some offers as low as $6,000 and some as high as $35,000. Mine was, unfortunately, the latter and I am not sure that meeting that spend will be worth it.
How we’ve used Southwest Companion Pass
The companion pass for us has been a huge game-changer!
We have taken it to Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, San Jose, Cancun, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Nashville and more!
The best thing is a lot of times we booked my fare with points, then added Dave as my companion and only paid taxes!! It has allowed us to save over $4,000 in ONE YEAR alone, and we had the pass for two years. I would have to do the math for total savings, but I wouldn’t doubt that the savings are close to $10,000 for us.
Some Trips include:
- $6,000 All-Inclusive trip to Jamaica for $280.
- $3,800 VEGAS Trip for $13!
- $3,133 All-Inclusive to Mexico for $297
- 6 Day trip to Flamingo Beach in Aruba for $502!
- $3,467 All-Inclusive trip to Dominican for FREE
Have more questions on the companion pass?
Be sure to check out our FAQ’s on earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
Feel Free to send us an email too if you have any further questions! [email protected]
Be sure to check out some of our other Southwest Articles
- How Southwest Changed my flight and I was credited $51
- Check your Southwest Account for a Gift
- Success Story: Travel Hacking a Hawaiian Honeymoon
- Southwest Flights to Hawaii on Sale
Southwest Companion Pass Offer (Expired)
Want to learn other Basic travel hacking tips? Check out these articles for a Basic Overview!
New to Travel Hacking? Check out the BASICS Below!
- Get our FREE Ultimate GUIDEBOOK To SUPER CHEAP Travel
- Basic Travel Hacking 101
- Basic Travel Hacking 102
- Credit Scores 101
- Knowing the Rules
- 5/24 Status
- Top Credit Card Offers
- Earning Bonuses
- Expedited Airport Screening
- Cashback Sites
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Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.