We’re big fans of planning our travel in advance to take advantage of the incredible savings that can be achieved through travel hacking. As part of our planning process for 2018 travel, we decided that this would be the year that we finally earned what many consider to be the best deal in the miles and points world: the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is truly an incredible deal. We’ll go into more detail below, but all you really need to know is that it allows you to bring a companion (friend, family member, etc.) on any Southwest flight you’ve booked for nearly free! You only need to pay the taxes and fees for your companion’s ticket. Keep reading to see how we earned the Companion pass for nearly TWO full years, and to learn how you can too!
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
To get the Southwest Companion Pass, you must either earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest miles in a calendar year or take 100 one-way flights (as you might have guessed, we prefer the miles option). Once you’ve met one of these requirements you’ll receive your Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is good for the entire calendar year that you earn it in, as well as for the following calendar year. This allows you to get 2-for-1 flights for nearly two years if you time it correctly! For example, we earned our Companion Pass in January 2018, so it’s good for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
So how do you go about earning 110,000 Southwest miles? Credit-card sign-up bonuses, of course! Chase issues three Southwest cards: the Southwest Plus, Southwest Premier, and Southwest Business. The sign-up bonuses from each of these cards count towards the 110,000-mile requirement, making this the easiest way to earn a Companion Pass. The sign-up bonus on these cards fluctuates throughout the year, but you’ll see sign-up bonus offers of 50,000 – 60,000 miles at least once a year on these cards (including right now!). In most situations, signing up for some combination of two of the three cards will earn you enough miles for a Companion Pass (or very close). We’d definitely recommend trying to earn the Companion Pass as early in the year as possible in order to maximize the time you have it. Keep reading below to see exactly how we did this.
Getting the Companion Pass for Nearly Two Full Years
Back in September of 2017, Chase was promoting sign-up bonuses of 60,000 miles on each of the three Southwest credit cards. This was an incredible deal since signing up and meeting the minimum spending requirements on two cards would net you more than the 110,000 miles required to earn a Companion Pass. Emily applied for both the Southwest Plus and the Southwest Premier on the same day (we read some mixed reviews about the rules around this, but it worked perfectly for us). Then, we made sure to carefully plan out our spending in order to meet the $2,000 minimum within the three-month requirement on each card. Since you’re awarded the bonus points after the closing date for the statement period in which you meet the spending requirements, we had to be sure that we finished our spending for each card during a statement cycle that closed in January 2018. If the points had posted in December of 2017, we would’ve only had our Companion Pass for December 2017 and all of 2018 rather than nearly all of 2018 and 2019.
Now is still a great time to earn your own Companion Pass and enjoy nearly two years of 2-for-1 Southwest flights. Here is how to go about it:
- Open the Southwest Plus credit card. The card is currently (as of Jan 2018) offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in three months.
- Open the Southwest Premier credit card. Most people recommend waiting 30 days between applications, although we applied for both cards on the same day with no problems. Either way, the Southwest Premier card is currently offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in three months.
- After meeting the spending requirements for both cards, you’ll have at least 104,000 Southwest miles (100,000 from the bonuses and 4,000 from meeting the spending requirement). At this point you’ll just need to earn an additional 6,000 miles through your everyday spending and voila! You’ll have your very own Companion Pass!
Using the Companion Pass
Now for the fun part-actually booking awesome travel using your Southwest Companion Pass! Once you’ve earned the necessary Southwest miles you’ll log into your account and see something like this:
At this point you’ll be able to designate your Companion. This is the person who will be able to join you on any flight that you’ve booked for just the cost of taxes and fees. You can change your companion up to three times during the life of your Companion Pass, so choose wisely!
Next, you’ll search for the flight that you’d like to take. The great thing about the Companion Pass is that it applies to bookings made with both miles and cash. You’ll have a huge stash of miles when you first earn your Companion Pass, so get ready for LOTS of free flights. Southwest has a great award program because the cost in miles of a specific flight is based on the cash price of the ticket. No more searching for saver award availability…just find the flight you want and you’ll see the cost in points. Once you’ve found the flight you want, go ahead and book it for just yourself. Next, head over to your Southwest account’s home page and you’ll see the “Add Companion” button at the bottom of the reservation. Simply select this, pay the taxes and fees, and you’ll have two flights for the price of one!
Since earning our Companion Pass we’ve already booked a getaway to Mexico, a trip to visit family and attend a wedding, and rounded out our free flights for our upcoming West Highland Way adventure this summer! The Companion Pass can easily save you thousands of dollars and open up countless opportunities for new travel adventures!
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