- October 2014: Marci and I had a weekend getaway to New Orleans (18,819 points required for my flight, 0 points required for Marci)
- March 2015: Marci and I had a weekend getaway to Las Vegas (25,265 points required for my flight, 0 points required for Marci)
- April 2015: Our family of four took a Spring Break trip to Clearwater, FL (using Tampa as our gateway airport) (34,968 points total for the kids and me, 0 points required for Marci)
- June 2015: Our family of four took a Summer vacation to Washington, DC (35,124 points total for the kids and me, 0 points required for Marci)
- October 2015: Marci and I had a weekend getaway to New York (12,164 points required for my flight, 0 points required for Marci)
- October 2015: Our family of four flew to New Jersey to visit family (18,540 points for the kids and me, 0 points required for Marci, though this trip was only one way as we used Delta miles for the other direction)
Add it up, and you get 144,880 points for a total of 14 round trip flights and 4 one way flights! And I still have points left over! Also, the Companion Pass saved me a staggering 85,792 points on Marci’s flights! Are you ready to climb aboard Southwest now?
- Actually flying Southwest (in which case you earn 6 points per dollar on their Wanna Get Away fares)
- Signing up for one of their credit cards (both the bonus points and the points earned from spending to meet the signup bonus requirements) count toward the pass
- Spending money on a Southwest credit card after obtaining the signup bonus
- Staying at partner hotels
- Car rentals (simply edit your profile for the rental agency such that you earn Southwest points when you rent a car)
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Dining
- Shopping through the Southwest Airlines Shopping Portal
- Transferring points from partners such as Hyatt and Marriott (though you should pay close attention to the transfer ratios to see if they make sense for you)
What is critical to point out is that points transferred directly from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account DO NOT count toward the Companion Pass. So, points earned by signing up for the Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and/or Ink cards can be transferred to your Southwest account, but they will NOT count toward the Companion Pass. You can transfer them to Marriott or Hyatt and then transfer them to Southwest, but the ratios may not be to your liking. Now, notice that I said I applied for two Southwest credit cards in May of 2014. How did I do this? I applied for both the personal card and business card on the same day. Each card came with the same 50,000 point bonus. So, after getting those two cards and meeting the spend on them ($2000 per card), I had 104,000 points toward the Southwest Companion Pass…without ever stepping foot on a Southwest flight! So, all I needed was 6,000 more points. I could have achieved this by simply putting $6,000 more in spend on one of the two cards, but I had a hefty Marriot points balance, so I simply transferred enough Marriott points to get me over the 110,000 point threshold. A few days later, I received an email with the subject heading “You’ve earned a Companion Pass!” Now, why did I say earlier that applying for only one card in 2013 was a mistake? Because it only took me up to 52,000 points, leaving me far short of the 110,000 I needed for the Companion Pass. In 2014, I made sure not to repeat that mistake. 52,000 Southwest points is great, but 104,000 puts you on the cusp of the Companion Pass, which doubles the value of your points. So, are there any caveats I should point out? Yes, there are.
- Getting the business card scares some people who do not own a company. In truth, anyone can apply for a business card, even if your “business” is selling items on eBay, babysitting, dog walking, you name it. You simply apply as a sole proprietor and use your social security number rather than an Employer Identification Number (EIN). If you are just not comfortable applying for a business card, then you can apply for two different personal cards (Plus and Premier) at different times of the same calendar year. Just be sure to apply when the bonus is 50,000 points rather than 25,000.
- Every Southwest card comes with an annual fee of either $69 or $99, and the fee is not waived the first year. If you are getting the Companion Pass, I honestly don’t see how you can complain about it. If you are not getting the Companion Pass, well, 50,000 Southwest points should be easily worth $700, so stop complaining!
- Getting approved for two cards on the same day from the same bank can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to call the Chase reconsideration line if you are rejected at first.
I cannot tell you how much I love Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program. If you are a frequent business traveler who lives for upgrades to first class, then this might not be the best airline for you. If you are more into occasional leisure travel, especially with family within the US, then I absolutely recommend you do some research on Southwest. They are very hard to beat. So, what do you think? Is the Companion Pass really all that and a bag of chips? Leave us a comment. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it, tweet it, or email it to your friends and family!