Southwest Companion Pass: Fly a Partner with you for FREE ALL YEAR!

Note: The 50,000 miles offer the Chase Southwest Credit card is not always available, though it was at the time of writing. For the latest Southwest Credit cards offer, please visit my Chase Southwest Airlines Credit Card Page.

Samba for Miles‘ parents live in Kansas and often fly to San Francisco on Southwest. When the 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card offer from Chase came back, she thought it would be a useful credit card bonus for her parents. I had a better idea: The Southwest Companion Pass!

The Southwest Companion Pass lets you fly a partner for free on any fare, paid or reward, for just the cost of taxes amounting to $2.50 – $5.00. This essentially lets you double the value of all your miles on Southwest by getting two tickets for the price of one.

Southwest Rapid Rewards point are actually among the easiest frequent flyer to redeem. Each Rapid Rewards point is worth 1.67 cents toward their basic Wanna Get Away fare, which is available very frequently. With no award availability hunting, the Southwest Companion Pass quickly doubles the value of each Rapid Reward point to 3.33 cents each!

Southwest Companion Pass Basics

The Southwest Companion Pass is awarded once you either fly 100 segments or collect 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points from eligible sources (explained below) within one calendar year (Jan – Dec). Once this is done, you get a Companion Pass good for the rest of the year and the following year.

Southwest Companion Pass

Requirements to qualify for Southwest Companion Pass

For Samba for Miles’ parents, once they earn the pass in 2013, it’s good for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. It pays to earn the pass as early in the year as you can. Although it’s March, there’s plenty of time left in 2013!

Southwest keeps track of your balance towards companion pass, which you can always view. Once you hit the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points mark within a single calendar year, your companion pass is activated (you even get a little welcome message when you log into the account!). You then designate your companion and have the choice of adding him or her to all your flights. The only restriction is that there still needs to be a seat being sold on the flight. So if you personally bought the last seat, no companion on the flight for you!

Eligible Sources to Collect Points for Southwest Companion Pass

There are many ways to get Southwest Rapid Rewards Points, but not all of them count towards the Companion Pass. The terms and conditions for the companion pass state:

Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights, points issued on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.  Purchased points and points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonuses, flight bonuses, and Partner bonuses do not count toward Companion Pass status.

Here are the ways in which you can earn points toward the 110,000 Rapid Rewards that count for Companion Pass:

1. Points earned through credit cards

There are currently four credit card offers available:

For the most updated credit card offer information, visit my Chase Southwest Airlines Credit Card Page.

  • Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Personal Card 
  • Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Personal Card
  • Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card 
  • Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Business Card 
Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa Signature

Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa Signature card

Each  card currently comes with a 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards signup bonus after spending $2000 on your card within 3 months of account opening. The only difference between these cards is that the Premier Card has a $99 annual fee and has with a 6,000 point yearly bonus after paying your fee while the Plus card has a $69 annual fee and has a 3,000 point yearly bonus.

Signing up for any of these cards will get you 50,000 immediate points towards the Southwest Companion Pass after meeting your spending requirements. You can actually sign up for a Personal and Business card simultaneously if you apply on the same day.

If you sign up for a personal card and business card at the same time, you get 100,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points towards the Southwest Companion Pass immediately. After meeting the spending requirements, you will have 104,000. Alternately, you can apply for one of the personal cards, get approved, and then apply for the other after 60-90 days with Chase. The Premier and Plus cards are two different cards.

But even signing up for just one personal card gets you almost halfway toward the Southwest Companion Pass. You can then use the other four methods to earn the remaining 58,000 points you need.

Check out the latest information on my Chase Southwest Airlines Credit Card Page.

2. Flying on Southwest

With Southwest airlines, you earn points based on the cost of the fare rather than miles flown. The Wanna Get Away fare, which is the cheapest, earns 6 Pts per dollar. These count towards the Southwest Companion Pass.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest Earning Structure

3. Transferring points from hotel partners

Not all partner transfers and earnings count toward the companion pass. In particular, bonuses you earn for stays with hotel partners do not count. This is what is meant by Partner bonuses not counting in the terms above. However, the hotel partners Hyatt and Marriott do count.

Hyatt Gold Passport transfer rates:

  • 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points = 2,400 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
  • 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points = 30,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points (6,000 point bonus)

Marriott Rewards transfer rates:

  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 2,000 Rapid Rewards Points
  • 20,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards Points
  • 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards Points
  • 70,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 25,000 Rapid Rewards Points
  • 125,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points

4. Transferring from Ultimate Rewards (but in a roundabout way!)

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1:1 to Southwest Rapid Rewards. Unfortunately, points transferred directly from Ultimate Rewards do not count toward the Companion Pass 110,000.

What does count is transferring Ultimate Rewards 1:1 to Hyatt and then transferring from Hyatt to Rapid Rewards. Hyatt points transfer at the ratios mentioned in option 3 above:

  • 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points = 2,400 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
  • 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points = 30,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points (6,000 point bonus)

You only end up with about a 2:1 transfer ratio from Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards this way. Since Southwest points redeem at 1.67 cents each and you get two tickets for the price of one, the redemption value is 1.67 cents for each Ultimate Rewards point. I value Ultimate Rewards points (conservatively) at 1.75 cents each so this is not an reasonable transfer by itself. Of course, once you’ve reached 110,000 points for the companion pass, you should only transfer from Ultimate Rewards directly and get 3.33 cents per Ultimate Rewards point.

5. Rapid Rewards Mall purchases

Just like Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, Southwest has its own shopping portal. You can earn bonus points for your companion pass shopping through the Rapid Rewards Mall.

The only downside is that Rapid Rewards Mall points post very very slowly. While Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall has points post within a week, the Rapid Rewards Mall takes 6-8 weeks. If you plan to work the Rapid Rewards Mall into your earnings toward the Companion Pass, you need to think about the timing of points posting into your plan.

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed at 1.67 cents each toward Wanna Get Away fares. This is actually much easier than redeeming awards on most airlines. The Wanna Get Away fares are very easily available when you book in advance. With the Companion Pass, the value of each Southwest Rapid Rewards points doubles to 3.33 cents.
Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards

The current Chase Southwest Rapid Reward credit card signups earn you 50,000 points after $2000 in spending. At 3.33 cents each, that’s $1667.50 in airline tickets for a single credit card!

You can also transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points directly from Ultimate Rewards at 1:1 after you have the companion pass.  With the Southwest Companion pass, Southwest Rapid Rewards quickly becomes a top transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards, beating out even my favorite United Airlines! Each transferred point becomes worth 3.33 cents. These points can be easily earned through the Ultimate Rewards Mall and can be transferred to airline partners if you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or one of the Chase Ink Bold/Ink Plus business cards.

Summary

  • The Southwest Companion Pass lets you fly a companion with you for free on any flight until the end of the following year.
  • You can earn the Southwest Companion Pass by flying 100 segments or earning 110,000 eligible Rapid Rewards points.
  • The 110,000 Rapid Rewards points can be earned through credit card signups (50,000 bonus), flying, transferring points from Hyatt and Marriott or shopping through the Rapid Rewards Mall.
  • Once earned, every Southwest Rapid Rewards points is worth 3.33 cents. This gives the credit card signup bonus a value of $1667.00

 

Comments

  1. Helen Fang says

    It seems like the best time to apply for this card is within the first quarter of the year (maybe even first month). You could then fly for almost two years on this pass, correct?

    Also, can you please tell me if you’re only able to switch people 3 times or 3 people. My boyfriend and his daughter would switch as the companion.

    Thanks – I really appreciate your writing style. Super straight forward!

    • says

      Thanks! :) Glad you find my writing useful! You have the right idea. Technically speaking, if you really want to maximize the pass, you want to apply for the cards at the very end of the year, avoid meeting the spending requirement and then hit the requirement as soon as January rolls in :) Then you would get almost two years with the pass. One thing to be careful about, though, is that although right now the credit card points count towards the companion pass, they can change the terms at any point and, also, the bonuses for these cards do vary.

      It’s actually 3 changes, not people, so you can have 4 “companion periods.” Switching from your boyfriend to his daughter and back counts as 2 changes. Also, every time you change your companion, any reservations you have with your existing companion get canceled. This is to avoid you booking a bunch of future travel with one companion, switching and then booking a bunch of future travel with a second companion.

  2. Martin Allison says

    Hello,
    I enjoy reading your tips on miles and points. I was an auditor for over 30 years and am now very conservative on using up my points in the various programs. I look forward to reading your information in the future.

  3. Duth says

    After I earned the companion ticket, my rapid account is been disabled by southwest. They asked to call in, but when I do so, no one answer. I wonder what may cause them to disable my account. One of my shopping online item was returned and reversed after the companion is reach, would this cause the disable? Any advices please?. Thank you

  4. Jae says

    Applied for Southwest Plus personal and business card on 1/7. They sent letters in the mail saying application denied. 1/17 I called the Chase reconsideration line on the personal card first and it was approved on the first call. I called the Chase reconsideration line for the business and it was denied. They said business was too new and to call back after establishing payment history on personal card. I called back the same day and asked if they could move some of the personal card credit line over to busineses and that I really wanted to establish a banking relationship for my business. Business card approved same day.

    Once I received the cards (on 1/24), to complete my required spend: I purchased two $500 Visa gift cards at Walmart with the personal card. They have to be purchased in two separate transactions. The first transaction went through without issue, but the second transaction was denied and I had to call Chase from within the store. They had a fraud alert hold on the card but removed it once I confirmed it was me making the transaction. I used the Visa gift cards to buy money orders and deposited money orders in my bank to pay personal card. I sent a $500 amazon payment using personal cc and then transferred the Amazon payment to checking account to pay cc bill. I also purchased a $250 paypal card at CVS. I loaded $250 into paypal online and then paid the $250 back to cc. With fees included that all totaled about $1764. I used my personal card as normal with purchases for daily life (gas, groceries, etc)

    I created a Choice Hotels account to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points. There is no direct relationship with Amex + Southwest but they both have a partnership with Choice Hotels. I transferred 18,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to 18,000 Choice Hotels points. I then transferred the 18,000 CH points to 5400 SW Rapid Rewards points.

    On the business card, I purchased 3 Vanilla Reload cards ($500 each) at CVS and loaded to my Amex Bluebird account. This totaled $1500. I used the money to pay bills from the Bluebird account. I also used the business card to purchase items for my business to complete the rest of the required spend.

    For both cards, I completed required spend by 2/4. However, the business card statement close date was 2/3 and only 1991 points posted to my RR account 2 days later (2/5). I called Chase to have the statement closed date on the personal card changed to the beginning of the month (it was previously at the middle of the month). So when the personal card closed on 2/4 (first statement) 2453 points posted to RR account 2 days later on 2/6. I’m not sure why, but the 50k bonus points for meeting the required spend did not post on the personal card until the next statement date: 3/4. I emailed Chase about it but they just said the points would be posting on the next statement date without a reason.

    On 3/6 the 50k bonus points posted to my RR account for the personal card in the morning. By the afternoon the 50k bonus points from the business card had posted as well! Mission Accomplished! When I logged into my RR account I saw the message “Companion Pass status achieved” and set up my companion info – hooray!

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