Southwest just recently announced that they were upping the required amount of points for the Southwest Companion Pass from 110,000 points in a calendar year to 125,000 points in a calendar year. With the recent credit card bonuses and many planning on hitting those thresholds in early January, should you change your Southwest Companion Pass strategy for 2020?
Southwest Companion Pass Strategy for 2020
Many recent credit card applicants for the recent high Southwest card bonuses were upset with the change yesterday (October 17, 2019). The reason is that the smartest strategy for achieving the Southwest Companion Pass with credit card bonuses has always been to get the card(s) in early/mid October but to not hit the threshold until after their December statement closed.
This way, it would look like this:
- Statement closes December 14 (for example)
- Hit spending threshold after December 14
- Receive the bonus points after the closing date on January 14 (normally a few days after the closing date)
By making sure you earn the 110,000 points the following year, you are able to get almost 2 full years out of the Southwest Companion Pass. This is in contrast to getting the bonus now in 2019 when you would need to get the rest of the points this year (actually, before your December statement closing date) to get the Companion Pass at all – and it would only be good for 2019 and 2020.
The Change for the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020
What changed was the additional 15,000 points it will take in 2020 and beyond to earn the Companion Pass. For many, that is not a small amount.
Southwest Companion Pass Strategy
So, should you try and hit the 110,000 points this year and at least get one year out of the pass? Or should you still go for the pass in 2020 to have it for 2020 and 2021?
I would still definitely recommend that you stick with your Southwest Companion Pass strategy of earning the bonus points in 2020. The reason is that you will have much more time to earn that 15,000 points necessary to bring you to the 125,000 points. Plus, you could always get a new Southwest credit card next year (if you are eligible) and easily bridge that gap.
Even if you need to do the 15,000 points by spending $15,000, you still have a whole year to work on that. If you make your Southwest card your daily card (which I would normally NOT recommend to use an airline card for daily use but this is a special circumstance), you should definitely be able to hit that by the end of next year and at least still have the Pass for some of 2020 and all of 2021.
Use Referral Points
But, remember that many other things count towards the Companion Pass as well! For example, you can earn 10,000 points per referral when you refer a friend or family member for the card! Even if the cards are not at their highest ever, it could be a good time to have your person that would be your companion to apply for a card from a referral from you.
Yes, they may lose out on 10,000 or 20,000 points from a better offer down the road, but you will get the 10,000 points for referring them and that will count towards the Companion Pass.
Though this change may really hurt, I definitely do NOT think you should change up your strategy and go for the pass before the end of 2019 (by hitting the 110,000 points this year with your bonus and spending). Even if you have to take most of next year to make up that 15,000 additional points, it will be much less strain doing that.
Besides, remember that the points you earn can still be used for free reward travel – you don’t trade the points for the Companion Pass! That means you can still travel – you just won’t have that awesome Companion Pass for free partner travel until you have earned the 125,000 points in a year.
For me, I have some relief since Southwest did not take away the ability to earn those points with credit card bonuses. If they had kept the 110,000 point threshold and removed the bonuses from counting, that would have been far worse. Now, people will just need to either spend more or get a bit more creative in their point accruals.