New shorter but easier Companion Pass offer with a single card sign-up. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book your own paid OR award flights. The traditional way to earn a Companion Pass is to either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, after which you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the following full calendar year.

Southwest has new limited-time offer with a “promotional” Companion Pass, which is easier to achieve but only lasts for the remainder of the current year (through the end of December 2019). You get to skip the 110,000 point requirement. Keep in mind that you can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year. Limited-time offer ends February 11, 2019.

Here are the new offer highlights. There are some slight variations between them:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 3,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $69 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority card

  • Earn the Companion Pass and 30,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. Offer ends 2/11/19. Companion Pass is promotional and will end 12/31/19.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit.
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies.
  • Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list status.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $149 annual fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card

  • 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 6,000 bonus points after each Cardmember anniversary.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • $99 annual fee.

30,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $450 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. This means that Southwest points are much easier to use than a “saver award” on the traditional airlines. Now, if you use the Companion Pass on every trip that you book with points, that doubles the value to $900.

Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person. The fees on the other airlines have crept up to $30 per bag, each-way. That adds up.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months.

Another option to consider is gift card redemptions. You can still redeem 5,000 points for a $50 a Amazon.com or Wal-Mart gift certificate. That makes 50,000 points still worth $500 in Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. In this case, the Companion Pass might not be worth anything if you travel alone, or it could be worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Remember, the companion pass works on tickets booked with either points OR cash.

In our case, I like that this makes it much easier to earn two concurrent Companion Passes with just two credit card applications – one for me and one for my spouse – which would mean we could take two kids free.

Extending your Companion Pass with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest points on a 1:1 basis. The idea is is to book an award flight with those Southwest points while you have the Companion Pass, thus doubling the value of your Ultimate Rewards points as well.

Bottom line. Right now, Southwest is offering a promotion for Companion Pass good through the end of 2019 if you sign up for an eligible credit card and meet the spending requirements. The Companion Pass lets you pick one person to fly with free whenever you book your own paid or award flights. This can mean big savings. Southwest also still includes two free checked bags per person.

Which one would I pick? Well, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card offers 3,000 more anniversary points (6k vs 3k) than the Southwest Plus, but also costs $30 more per year ($99 v. $69). If you are basically willing to buy more points at 1 cent each, then you may want the Premier as you it’s not hard to get more than $30 value out of 3,000 points. However, I would personally just pick the simpler and cheaper option and stick with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card.

“The editorial content here is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.”

Southwest Companion Pass via (a Single) Chase Southwest Credit Card Bonus from My Money Blog.


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