What is a Companion Pass? How do I get Free Southwest Flights?
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the more unique frequent flyer benefits. And who wouldn’t love Free Southwest Flights? Becoming a Companion Pass member usually requires a Rapid Rewards Member earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points in a calendar year.
Once eligible, Companion Pass members can bring a companion on any Southwest flight for just taxes and fees (starting at $5.60 each way). You only need to fly with a companion a couple times a year to make this perk extremely valuable. Even better, the Companion Pass works on all flights without blackout dates (including to Hawaii when launched). It isn’t the Singapore Suites, but buy one get one free is a really great offer.
What’s the Deal?
Well it seems that Southwest is trying to win over customers in California and is offering a great additional offer on the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa Card. If you apply by November 30, 2017, you will earn Companion Pass status after just one purchase and that status will be valid until December 31, 2018.
A few things to keep in mind:
- You will also earn the usual 40,000 Rapid Rewards Points after $1,000 in spend (read below for how to maximize this bonus and earn a Companion Pass for an extra year) and will have to pay the $69 annual fee.
- Previously, this offer was available to targeted members but is now available to all California residents.
- You can only designate three companions throughout the year (one at a time).
- You will not be eligible for the bonus offer if you currently have a Rapid Rewards Credit Card or if you have received a Rapid Rewards Credit Card welcome bonus in the past 24 months.
How to Keep The Companion Pass Through 2019
Getting Buy one get one free flights Southwest flights through December 31, 2018 is awesome, but getting buy one get one free Southwest flights through December 31, 2019 is even better. If you want to extend your companion pass for another year, just follow these steps:
- Apply for the special California resident only Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa Card.
- Call Chase to expedite the credit card so you can make your first purchase as soon as possible.
- Make one small purchase on the new credit card to earn the Companion Pass (which per the terms will be available in up to 8 weeks but should arrive much sooner).
- Set up a plan to meet the $1,000 minimum spend soon after January 1, 2018 so the 40,000 Rapid Rewards Points bonus posts for the 2018 year. You can start working on this now, but it’s key that you don’t meed the $1,000 threshold until after January 1.
- Now that you have a minimum of 41,000 Rapid Rewards Points (40k bonus plus at least 1k from spending), you need to earn 69,000 more Rapid Rewards Points during 2018.
How to Earn More Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
- If you have a business, the fastest way to earn the 69,000 Rapid Rewards Points is applying for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Visa, which has a welcome bonus of 60,000 Rapid Rewards Points after $3,000 in spending (netting you a total of at least 63,000 Rapid Rewards Points).
- Use the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal to make purchases you are already going to make. The Rapid Rewards Points earned through the Shopping Portal are on top of any credit card points you are earning making this great way to stack the earning potential.
- Spend on your Chase Southwest Personal or Business Credit Card. If you only need a few more points, this may be a great option; however, you are giving up potentially lucrative multipliers from more valuable flexible currency credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the American Express Platinum.
- Fly on paid Southwest Flights and earn between 6 and 12 Rapid Rewards Points per dollar spent.
Keep in mind that while all of the above ways to earn points count towards earning a Companion Pass, transferring points from partners like Marriott do not.
I Don’t Live In California But I Want a Companion Pass!
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is you can still apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa (but not both) and earn the standard 40,000 Rapid Rewards Points welcome bonus. The bad news is that if you don’t live in California, you don’t get the Companion Pass after one purchase. You will still want to wait until after January 1, 2018 to earn the welcome bonus so the points are credited for the 2018 year. Once you have the 40,000 Rapid Rewards Points you can follow the instructions above on how to earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards Points.