The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is a great idea for any big time traveler — earn the points required and give yourself the gift of companionship for a year. A year or almost two years, and that’s the trick — but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, what does it mean to have a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
Well, to have one means you can invite a pal with you on any trip you take, and pay only taxes and fees. The price of the extra ticket is free. It’s basically a BOGO — buy one get one free. (And it doesn’t have to be the same pal either — you can take a trip to Aruba with your spouse in January and then take your best friend to Vegas for a little March madness — up to you.)
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR A COMPANION PASS
Second, how do you qualify to get a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
You post 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. Alternatively, you can earn the Companion Pass by flying 100 one-way flights in a calendar year, posted to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.
GOOD NEWS ABOUT EARNING POINTS
The good news is you don’t have to earn all those qualifying points in the air. Booking flights is the primary way to earn Companion Pass qualifying points, but you can also earn points by spending on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards (here are some Southwest Airlines Credit Card Chase Bank options). Southwest offers three credit cards (PRIORITY, PREMIER, and REWARDS PLUS) that deliver a bonus of 40,000 qualifying points for signing up and spending at least $1,000 in the first quarter of having the card. Adding a second card with strong spending can get you almost to the 110,000 required points. Spending $3,000 in the first three months with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and you can earn 60,000 Companion Pass qualifying points.
NOTE: not all earned Rapid Rewards points qualify for redemption on a Companion Pass — bonus points (tier, flight, partner bonus points) for example don’t qualify. See Companion Pass program rules for details.
11 MONTHS EXTRA: DOUBLE THE BENEFIT COMPANION PASS TRICK
Here’s the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass trick, the most important thing. As with everything else, good timing is essential to maximize your benefit. The Southwest Companion Pass is good for the calendar year in which it is earned and for the duration of the next calendar year. Therefore if you earn your Companion Pass in on, say, Christmas Eve, you’ll have about 53 weeks of use. If you earn it two weeks later on, say, January 6, you’ll get about 103 weeks of Companion Pass use. That’s nearly double the benefit of the Companion Pass. So time it well and fly happy with your chosen guest.