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How To Lock Up The Southwest Companion Pass For 2016 – 2017 – Without Even Flying!

Southwest Companion Pass
Written by Charlie

Time to lock up the Southwest Companion Pass for nearly two years of free companion travel. What makes it even better is that you do not even need to step on a plane to earn the Companion Pass!

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It is that time of year again – people saw their status efforts roll to zero as the new year began and re-qualification is on! For those who earned the Southwest Companion Pass in 2014, you also saw that Companion Pass disappear on Friday as the 2016 year begins. If that is you, or even if you have never had the Southwest Companion Pass, here is how you can lock it up for 2016 – 2017 without even stepping on a Southwest plane to earn it!

How To Lock Up The Southwest Companion Pass For 2016 – 2017

Southwest Companion Pass

What Is The Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the greatest perks in airline programs. It is a pass that a customer earns that allows that customer to designate another person to fly with them on any Southwest flight (award or paidfor free! Of course, the second passenger does have to pay the taxes on the ticket but the cost of the actual ticket is waived – whether the primary passenger used cash or points for their own ticket.

Not only that, but the companion can be changed so you can bring different family members or friends with you throughout the time you hold the pass. You can change that companion up to three times per year. It can take a week or so to receive the new pass. Make sure that you leave time for that if you change a companion for an upcoming trip.

All you will need to pay is the taxes/fees for the companion. In the US, that is only $5.60 per flight segment but on the return of international routes, it can be around $50-$80 for the companion. Still cheaper than buying the ticket!

Two Years Of Free Companion Travel

The way to get the most value from the companion pass is to have it for two years. How that works is that you have the companion pass for the year you earned it in and the next year (since that is actually when the pass is earned for anyway, the current year is just a bonus). To be able to get that pass, we will need to leverage the bonuses from two credit card applications. This is because the Southwest Companion Pass requires 110,000 points (or 100 flights) in a year and the increased bonuses on these cards offer 50,000 bonus points. Fortunately, Southwest has three credit cards that can help you to earn that bonus with each of them offering 50,000 points.

Earning the Companion Pass

To obtain that companion pass, you need to earn 110,000 Rapid Reward points in one calendar year. Note: these points are not redeemed for the pass – it is simply the level you must reach to receive the pass. In other words, as long as you get 110,000 Rapid Reward points, you are able to have the companion pass and still use those 110,000 points for travel. This makes those points shoot up to a value of over $3,000 if redeemed for Wanna Get Away fares! The way to get qualifying points is to either fly or earn credit card points (by card bonuses or spending).

 check status of the companion pass

Ultimate Reward Points Count? NO

Unfortunately, points that are transferred into Southwest from Chase (they are partners) do not count for the companion pass. This means that you cannot transfer your Ultimate Reward points to Southwest (which transfers at 1:1) to get closer to the required 110,000 points for the pass. These points can be earned by Chase Southwest credit card bonuses (3 cards total available), by flying, by spending on the Chase Southwest credit card (any one of the 3), or by transferring in from a hotel program (which, almost all of the time, is not a good choice when starting from scratch). These points can be transferred for travel but not for the Companion Pass

Note: Points transferred from Marriot and Hyatt have counted towards the Companion Pass in the past and apparently still do work. However the transfer ratios are really not great, unless you transfer as part of the flights and nights package with Marriott. So, in this way, you can transfer Ultimate Reward points that will be counted for the Pass. I am planning a different post to discuss this in more detail. 

Southwest companion pass

“Earning” The 110,000 Points For The Southwest Companion Pass

To earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2016 – 2017, you will need to apply for two of the credit cards below. Each credit card will give you 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months. When you count the spending plus the bonus points, you are at 104,000 points for 2 cards. That means you simply need to spend another $6,000 total across the two cards to hit the 110,000 point level and earn the Companion Pass.

Important notes: the annual fee on these cards is not waived and does not count towards the minimum spending amount!

Also, if you have received the bonus on one of these cards in the past 24 months and currently hold that card, the terms say that you cannot earn the bonus again. Check which cards you have had and when you had them before applying!

 Southwest Airline Credit Cards

HT to Doctor of Credit for the credit card links

Southwest Airlines Personal Premier Card – 50,000 Points after $2,000 Spend in 3 months 

Southwest cards

  • 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • $99 Annual Fee (not waived)
  • 6,000 point annual bonus
  • Can be used for travel or gift cards (50,000 points equal $500 in gift cards to a variety of merchants, including Amazon)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • application link

Southwest Airlines Business Premier Card – 50,000 Points after $2,000 Spend in 3 months 

  • Southwest cards50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • $99 Annual Fee (not waived)
  • 6,000 point annual bonus
  • Can be used for travel or gift cards (50,000 points equal $500 in gift cards to a variety of merchants, including Amazon)
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • application link

Southwest Airlines Personal Plus Card – 50,000 Points after $2,000 Spend in 3 months 

  • Southwest cards50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months
  • $69 Annual Fee (not waived)
  • 3,000 point annual bonus
  • Can be used for travel or gift cards (50,000 points equal $500 in gift cards to a variety of merchants, including Amazon)
  • Only available by referral – check this Flyertalk thread to receive referral

Unfortunately, though we have the Plus card, it is not available for referrals right now. 🙁 Instead, go to the Flyertalk thread above and post that you need a referral. You should receive one fairly quickly. The referrer will get 5,000 points if you are approved so you can help another traveler out!

If you have a Chase Southwest Plus card and can refer others, please leave your e-mail in the comments! If you need a referral, please check the comments first to help out another reader!

Summary

The Southwest Companion Pass is definitely one of the best (if not the best) airline program benefits around. To be able to take someone with you on every flight for free can certainly make those trips a lot more fun! Just make sure you pick the right companion! 🙂

The fact that you can get this valuable perk by only applying for two credit cards and doing a total of $10,000 in spending is even better! Not only do you get the Companion Pass but you also receive 110,000 points for travel on Southwest. That equals at least $1,600 in free travel for you and you can double that value if you bring a friend along with the Companion Pass!

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

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