Travel Guide

How I Earned the Southwest Companion Pass with No New Cards and $2K Spending (Or, $0 in Spending!)

Written by Charlie

Find out how I earned the Southwest Companion Pass this year – without applying for any new cards and only spending $2k on the card I have (or, spend $0!).

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best features in the US travel system. It enables the one who earns it to designate one person (up to 4 different people in a year) to travel for free with them on any Southwest flight (paying only taxes/fees for the second traveler). This can be a huge savings and a great perk to have – but it takes earning 125,000 points in a calendar year to do that. Here is how I earned the Southwest Companion Pass without applying for any new cards.

How I Earned the Southwest Companion Pass with No New Cards

It requires earning 125,000 points in a calendar year to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. Once earned, it is good for the year it was earned in and the following year. Fortunately, it doesn’t require you using those 125,000 points to redeem for the Pass – that 125,000 point number is just the threshold you must cross.

That means that you will have at least 125,000 points that you can redeem for travel as well for you (or anyone else)! Since award travel and paid travel all work for bringing along the free second traveler, that can be great news!

What Counts for Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

The easiest path to earning the Southwest Companion Pass is to get a new Southwest credit card and earn that big sign-up bonus. The recent bonus was 80,000 points on the personal cards. Those customers who earned that will find themselves just 40,000 points shy of the Companion Pass (since the spending on the card also counts for the Pass).

Transferring points to Southwest from Chase does not count towards the Southwest Companion Pass. However, earning points by flying, shopping through the Southwest portal and that aforementioned credit card spending do.

There is one other thing that counts and it can be huge – points earned from referring Southwest credit cards. This year and last year, Chase was paying out 20,000 Southwest points for each successful credit card referral (meaning, when someone clicks through your link and then is approved for the card). The max earned in a calendar year is 100,000 points.

How I Earned the Southwest Companion Pass

That last part is how I did it – through personal referrals. Though I have affiliate links for most credit cards, I actually prefer to use personal referral links for many cards first. The affiliate payout is nowhere near the value of around $280 earned from one personal referral (in points).

Just waiting for the last spending to close on the statement and I am there!

But, how did I reach 125,000 points if the max in a year is 20,000 points? The answer is that I had a successful referral last December after the last billing statement in that year had closed. So, having a closing date of the 22nd of the month meant that any referral bonus earned after that date in the same year would end up counting in the next calendar year.

So, I earned 20,000 points from one such referral in December and it hit my account in January – which meant it counted for this year for the Southwest Companion Pass. Then I hit the 100,000 cap this year, leaving me just 5,000 points shy.

The Southwest card I have is the cheapest card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card. It comes with a $60 annual fee and 3,000 bonus points per year. Guess what? Those bonus points also count toward the Southwest Companion Pass!

That meant I just needed to do $2,000 in spending (or spend through the shopping portal) to earn the Southwest Companion Pass – and that’s what I did!

The reason the title says “Or $0” is because if you get the Southwest Premier Card or the Southwest Priority Card, you will get 6,000 points or 7,500 annual point bonuses, respectively. So, by using the same method I used, if you had one of those cards, you could get the Southwest Companion Pass without spending a single dollar!

How YOU Can Earn the Southwest Companion Pass in a Similar Way

I know – it is certainly easier to earn 6 referrals on a credit card when you have a blog than it is without one! However, you may be surprised at how many people you could refer as well. For instance, if your co-workers hear of your travel stories and ask about how you do it, give them the referral code for the Southwest card – when it hits its big bonuses, of course!


To get your personal Chase Southwest referral code (and the one code allows the referred person to apply for any Southwest card), simply go to this Chase site. Once there, enter your last name, your billing zip code, and the last 4 digits of your Southwest card.

Once you get it, there are places that you can go to leave your referral link. For example, Reddit has a thread just for referrals. Doctor of Credit also has a post for referrals (though I would encourage you to be a good reader over there and not just drop by to drop your link and cut out – spend some time on the site so he can earn some ad revenue or buy something through one of his links!).

I also allow readers to leave their personal referral links in the comments of the posts where I am talking about a new card offer, like the 80,000 point Southwest card offer. I will often cycle through those readers’ comments and put those links in the body of the post and have had many readers get their referral cap maxed out as a result.

Bottom Line

So, there are definitely ways! The strategy should be – get a referral (or more!) after your statement closes in December. That will make those referrals count for the next year. In that next year, go ahead and max out your referrals again and you are there! You have the Southwest Companion Pass for that year and the next and then you can start over again!

It has been some time since we received the Southwest Companion Pass and this is coming at a perfect time so we are looking forward to enjoying it until the end of 2023! It is really cool that it can be earned in such a way, especially when you can only get a personal Chase Southwest card once every 24 months. This is a nice way to earn it without applying for a new one.

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About the author


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.


  • Charlie, that’s a great tip! My husband and I have had the companion pass for many years (wonder how many thousands of dollars we’ve saved). We get a business card in November and a personal card in December, then complete the spending on both in January. That way, the big bonuses post in January and we have the pass for almost 2 years. With referrals, we could skip the card fees or pare it down to one card and one fee. When the time comes, I’ll be sure to apply through one of your reader’s referral links and post our referral link on your site – thank you!!

  • Thanks for the consistent great travel advice. I LUV the companion pass and am working on extending it for another year. Hope you don’t mind me sharing my link!

    Earn 50,000 bonus points with any Southwest Rapid Rewards personal Credit Card. Business owners can earn up to 80,000 bonus points with Southwest Rapid Rewards business Credit Cards. I can be rewarded too, learn more.