If you are interested in the Southwest companion pass for 2019 and 2020 now might be the time to apply for 1 or 2 Southwest credit cards (which is the easiest way to earn most of the 110,000 Rapid Rewards points needed to earn the Southwest Companion Pass).
How to Get the Southwest Companion Pass for 2019 and 2020
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass allows your companion to fly almost free anytime you fly – either on a paid or award booking. The Companion Pass is basically a buy one get one free deal but even better because your companion can fly free with you even if you use points to book your ticket. Both the member and the companion must be booked on the same flights and dates. Southwest Companion Pass travel has no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is valid the remainder of the calendar year it is earned and for the entire calendar year immediately following. This means if you earn the Companion Pass early 2019 it will be valid for most of 2019 and all of 2020.
The member is limited to one companion at any time but may change his/her designated companion up to three (3) times each calendar year that the member maintains Companion Pass status. The full terms of the Southwest Companion Pass can be found in the terms and conditions on southwest.com.
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
To earn the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass you must either: fly 100 qualifying one-way flights OR earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in one calendar year.
Even if you don’t fly Southwest very much you can easily earn most of the 110,000 points needed for a companion pass by earning a sign up bonus for 2 Southwest credit cards in the same calendar year. You don’t need to use your 110,000 points for the companion pass so those points are available to you to book free award flights.
Earning the Sign Up Bonus on 2 Southwest Airlines Credit Cards in the Same Calendar Year
The sign up bonus for Southwest credit cards counts towards the points needed to earn Companion Pass status.
There are 4 versions of the Southwest credit card – 3 personal versions and 1 business version.
One strategy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass quickly is to earn a credit card bonus on both the business version of the Southwest card and one of the personal versions in the same calendar year. Chase used to allow people to hold more than one version of the personal cards at the same time, however, now you have to apply for 1 personal and 1 business version.
Earning the sign up bonus in the same year for 2 Southwest credit cards will earn you most or all of the points needed to earn a Southwest Companion Pass. All 4 versions periodically offer a sign up bonus of 50,000 points or 60,000 points (usually after spending $1,000 – $3,000 in the first 3 months). Right now the business version of Southwest credit card is currently offering 60,000 bonus points but the personal versions are only offering 40,000 bonus points. I recommend applying for the business version first and hoping the sign up bonus on the personal versions is increased to 50,000 later this year or early 2019. If the personal versions of the Southwest cards increase the sign up bonus to 50,000 then you can earn all the of 110,000 points needed to earn a companion pass just by signing up for both a business and personal Southwest credit card.
Even if the personal versions of the Southwest credit cards do not raise the sign up bonus from 40,000 to 50,000, you will only be 6,000 points short of earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
NOTE: If you apply for one or more Southwest credit cards in 2018, make sure not to complete the minimum spending requirements until early 2019. If you accidentally spend too much in 2018, you will earn the bonus in 2018 which you do not want. You want to earn both sign up bonuses in early 2019 so that you can earn the companion pass in 2019.
Earning the Remaining 6,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points
If the personal Southwest credit cards do not start offering a 50,000 sign up bonus and you can only sign up for the 40,000 sign up bonus, there are several ways to earn the remaining 6,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points in 2019 including the following:
• Flying on Southwest revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines
• Spending more money on your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards
• Base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. This includes online shopping.
The following DO NOT COUNT for the companion pass according to Southwest:
“Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.”
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest does not count toward the Southwest Companion Pass.
An easy way to earn the remaining points is to pay your rent or mortgage with Plastiq (our referral link).
If you are thinking of applying for Southwest credit cards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2019 and 2020, the best time to apply for a business and personal Southwest credit card is late 2018/early 2019 so that you can earn your companion pass early 2019. Since the bonus on the business version is 60,000 right now, I recommend applying for the business version first and hoping the sign up bonus on the personal versions is increased to 50,000 later this year or early 2019. Please note that you will likely not be approved for a Southwest credit card if you fall into the Chase 5/24 rule.