Updated on February 1, 2015
Two words: COMPANION PASS
As many people know, Southwest Airlines has a Companion Pass that can be acquired by obtaining 110K Southwest Rapid Reward points or 100 paid one-way flights in a calendar year. Once this threshold is hit the member has the pass for the rest of that calendar year as well as the next full calendar year.
So what is the Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass allows the person who has it to fly a companion with them for free (except for a $5 TSA fee each way) on any Southwest flight in which the pass owner is booked. This can be a booking with money or with points.
Yes, you read that correctly, someone can fly with you FOR FREE for almost 2 years if done correctly.
Not only that:
1. You can set a person 3 times. So you can set your wife as your companion, then switch it to your brother for a trip the two of you are taking together and then back to your wife. You do have to remember that once it is changed you will lose the future flights booked previously for that former companion.
2.You can add a companion to any flight you are booked on, even if someone else bought it for you via points or cash!
So how do I get this amazing travel tool when I don’t fly enough?
Well there are a few ways to do this.
Warning: these do not count towards the pass: points transferred from other people, transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards and points from previous years. There could be others also.
Obtaining the pass via credit card:
So this is the fastest and easiest way to get the Companion Pass and it is the way that I obtained it.
There are currently 3 Southwest Credit Cards available:
Each of these cards currently has a sign up a 50K mile sign up bonus with a $3,000 spend in 3 months which is the best these cards usually get. They seem to fluctuate between 25K and 50K but these links should all be 50K.
So how did you do it?
The important thing to do, if you are able to, is to complete this as early in the year as possible so that you have the benefit of most of the current year as well as that following year. I applied for the Southwest Premier and the Southwest Business Premier above in October of 2013 about a week apart. Each of these had the 50K point bonus at the time and I had 3 months to complete the $3K spend. I used my preferred manufactured spending method at the time to spending $2K on each card quickly so that there would only be $1K left to spend on each card to get the bonus. Then a few days before Jan. 1st I put another $1K on each card. During the first and third weeks of January both bonuses posted and I had >100,000 new Rapid Rewards points in my account. Then I simply used MS to gain another 8K points that month and BOOM, the companion pass appeared in my account a few days later.
The Timing of this can be VERY important
In order to get the pass, all 110K miles need to post in the same calendar year. So if you are trying to do this at the end of the year as I did then you have to really figure out the calendar. The points will post to your account a few days after your credit card statement. So I had to make sure the last $1K was spent after my Dec. statement, but within the 3 months of card approval AND before the Jan statement. It ended up being a bit of a tie rope walk as I had left myself a small window. If I had to do it again I would have applied in Nov, Dec or Jan.
If anyone applies right now however you won’t need to worry about everything posting in the same year because the 3 months of spend are all in the same year. In that case I would just do all the spend as quickly as I could.
So why did you spend $2K on each card right away when you could have done it at the end and have those points posted in the new year too??
Fear. I am always worried that my MS method will dry up. Back then I really only had 1 good one and I really wanted this companion pass. I could have floated $2K if I needed to but $6K would have been way to much. Now I have many many avenues so I would probably just wait now.
What makes this your best move so far?
I know this is not as glamorous as a Singapore Airlines Suite class flight or a giant seat on Cathay Pacific 1st class but this makes life easier for TWO YEARS. I live in IL with my fiancée and both our families live in MD, and for 2 years, every time we fly home or anywhere SW flies I only need to worry about paying or using points for 1 ticket. Not only has this reduced stress but I have estimated it has saved me >$1500 in the first year. And this is not including the 100K point bonus which is worth a conservative estimate of $1430 (however they can be worth more).
So there you have it! Just in this first year with the points and savings I have saved about $3,000 with another year to go. Obviously the values of this will depend on how often you fly and if you are able to use SW, but due to the piece of mind and great savings this is my best points move so far.
Please ask any questions you may have below or by emailing us at PointsMD2014@gmail.com