Southwest Companion Pass: Free Flights For Up to Two Years

If you find yourself regularly booking domestic travel, you are probably no stranger to Southwest Airlines. Their top-rated frequent flyer program, Southwest Rapid Rewards, is a golden-standard for travelers who are used to flying around the country – especially when it comes to low-cost airfare.

Travelers can redeem their Rapid Reward points on any Southwest flight – even sale-fares – making the customer loyalty program that much sweeter. With no blackout dates or caps on rewards, it’s no surprise that Southwest’s Reward Program has had great success.

Another one of their major perks that you may not have heard about is the Southwest Companion Pass. 

Here’s why it’s an absolute must-have.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass

The Companion Pass is exactly what it sounds like – it allows a companion to fly free with you whenever you book a ticket on Southwest, even if you book your ticket with points. And since it remains valid for more than a year, you can use it over and over again.

Thankfully, Southwest is pretty straightforward with how the process works:

Step 1 - Once you earn the Companion Pass, you’ll see it in your Rapid Rewards account and be asked to designate who you want as your travel companion.

Step 2 - You’ll receive your official Companion Pass in the mail.

Step 3 - After you book your own flight online – either out of pocket or with points – you can book another ticket on the same flight using your Companion Pass. You can also book over the phone by telling the travel rep you want to use your Companion Pass.

Step 4 - You’re all set! Now your travel companion will fly with you for free.

So, how do you earn one of these passes?

How to Earn Your Companion Pass

There are two ways to qualify for a Companion Pass. You can:

1. Take 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year*

*whoa, that’s a lot of flying!

2. Earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year

Unless you hop on a roundtrip Southwest flight each week, it’s likely you will get the Companion Pass by earning 110k points in a calendar year.

Earning 110,000 points may seem intimidating, but actually, it’s not that hard to do. Plus, once you have the Pass, you’ll be able to use it for the remainder of the year AND the following calendar year.

For example, if you earn the Companion Pass in April 2017, you’ll be able to use it through December 31, 2018. That’s 20-months of buy-one-get-one-free Southwest flights!

Sign up for two credit cards to earn 100,000 points

Points earned via sign-up bonuses do count towards earning your Companion Pass, so it makes sense to take advantage of two of these offers to quickly earn 100k points:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest flights and hotels/rental car purchases through partners
  • Earn 1 point on everything else
  • 6,000 bonus points annually on your card anniversary
  • $99 annual fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business

  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest flights and hotels/rental car purchases through partners
  • Earn 1 point on everything else
  • $99 annual fee

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest flights and hotels/rental car purchases through partners
  • Earn 1 point on everything else
  • 3,000 bonus points annually on your card anniversary
  • $69 annual fee

The best way to make sure you earn the points you need to get the Companion Pass is to open one personal card and one business card. Since they’re each different, getting approved for both at the same time should be no problem.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with that idea, you may still be able to earn the Pass by signing up for both personal cards (although you’ll end up with 80k points, with 30k more to earn), but you may be denied by the card issuer. If you do choose to go this route, it’s probably best to apply for one and then wait 90 days or so to apply for the next.

Remember, you’ll be able to redeem all of your points on flights once your Companion Pass has been earned, so the more points, the merrier!

100,000 points are worth $1,389 in Wanna Get Away Fares on Southwest! (1.39¢ per point valuation)

Earn Additional Rapid Reward Points

Once you earn 100,000 points, you’ll be just 10,000 points shy of receiving your Companion Pass.

Luckily, the points you earn from meeting minimum spend on each card also count towards your Pass, so you’ll earn 4,000 points from that, leaving you with just 6,000 points left to earn.

Here are a few ways to do it. Careful though – not all points count towards earning a Companion Pass. Purchasing Southwest points or transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points, for example, do not count towards the Companion Pass.

1. Spend $6,000 on Your Southwest Credit Card

An obvious way to earn points, but if you have a big purchase coming up or some type of expense that will add up to $6,000, you’ll earn the remaining 6k points in no time.

Make it a Southwest airfare purchase or book a hotel stay/rent a car through Southwest’s website and you’ll earn 2x the points.

2. Use the Southwest Shopping Portal

Using Southwest’s shopping portal to purchase things you already planned to buy could be a good strategy to earn the remaining points needed – especially since some of the offers allow you to earn 15 points per $1 spent! 

Why You’ll Love the Companion Pass

1. Free really means free

When you’re ready to use your Pass, you won’t have to worry about unexpected fees popping up when you book a ticket. Besides paying the government-mandated September 11th security fee (which is $10 max and cannot be waived), your travel companion will be flying the friendly skies for free by your side.

2. It can stay valid for close to two years!

We touched on this earlier, but it’s worth highlighting again. Your Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the calendar year you earned it in AND the following calendar year.

A few examples:

  • If you receive your Companion Pass in June 2017, it will remain valid until December 31, 2018, for a total of 18 months.
  • If you receive your Companion Pass earlier in the year, say in February, it would remain valid until December 31 the following year. In other words, you’d be able to book buy-one-get-one flights for nearly two years.

3. After you earn a Companion Pass, you’ll have 110k points to spend

Earning a Companion Pass is already an exciting feat, but once you’ve accomplished it, you’ll still have all those points in your account to book flights with.

Translation: you can redeem points to book one ticket and then add an additional ticket to your reservation with your Companion Pass.

Read how Cammille used her Companion Pass to book a trip for her and her fiancé to Cuba 

4. You can change up your travel companion

Southwest allows you to change your designated travel companion up to three times. This is perfect for anyone wanting to travel with different friends or family members.

Bottom Line

Southwest is already an incredibly cost-efficient airline with several amazing perks. If you foresee a lot of domestic travel in your future – or even if you don’t – the Southwest Companion Pass is a powerful tool to help you travel more and spend less.

Disclaimer: This content and the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been provided, commissioned, or endorsed by the credit card issuer. All information was accurate at the time of this post but card terms and conditions may change at any time.

How would you use your Companion Pass? Let us know in the comments below!


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