Random Travel Rewards Programs

A Condensed Guide to the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass

Editor’s note: I knew that friend of the show, Taylor, was successful in achieving and maintaining a Companion Pass with Southwest Airlines, a popular, aspirational perk. Because I have yet to try any strategies, I asked Taylor to share a few notes on how he managed to get the valuable benefit. Below are some of his thoughts. This, of course, reflects his experiences. Yours or others could be different. Thanks to Taylor for taking time out of his busy schedule to share:

The condensed Companion Pass guide:

  1. There is a promotion for Southwest Priority card that grants Companion Pass that is good for the rest of 2019. The promotion ends 2/11/2019, so act soon.
  2. I read somewhere that you can’t have two personal cards, so if you sign up for the Priority card, you can’t sign up for Premier or Plus card. However, you can get the Business card. Don’t have a personal business? You don’t have to. If you just think about a business you can have, you can also have a business card (Million Mile Secrets has a Step-by-Step: How to Complete a Chase Business Card Application).
  3. If you want to keep having the Companion Pass, use the Rapid Rewards card for the whole year. During the year, send some flowers to friends and families through 1-800-Flowers (Pay for shipping. Don’t use Celebration Pass or Shoprunner for free shipping). Also, rent cars from Dollar and stay at Best Western hotels, if possible (These two are the most reliable Companion Pass points earnings partners). Then at the end of the year, if you’re still short of 110,000 Companion Pass points, fly Business Select a few times.

A few more thoughts:

  • I’ve had the Companion Pass for the last 5 years and whether it’s worth it changes year by year. But it’s certainly nice to have the option of Tara flying with me to conferences for free. Plus, Southwest will start flying to Hawaii soon, so we’re waiting for that.
  • There are three types of points. Tier Qualifying, Companion Pass, and regular points. Depending on what/how the points are earned, the number of points going into each bucket may be different.
  • Rapid Rewards Chase cards statements typically close on the 13th  (I haven’t tried whether this can be changed or not). On the 14th, the one month worth of spending on your Rapid Rewards Chase card will show on your Rapid Rewards account (meaning your individual card spending doesn’t hit your Rapid Rewards account. Only once a month). Companion Pass achieving is based on the calendar year. So if you are trying to earn 110,000 Companion points in 2019 to achieve Companion Pass for the rest of 2019 and 2020, you can earn Companion Pass points by using your Rapid Rewards Chase card starting December 14, 2018, because 12/14/2018-1/13/2019 spending will close on 1/13/2019 and be counted for 2019 calendar year. Similarly, if you use your Rapid Rewards Chase card on December 15, 2019, that spending will NOT count towards 2019 calendar year Companion Pass achieving, because that spending will close on 1/13/2020 statement closing date. So after 12/13/2019, the only thing you can count on reliably to achieve 110,000 points till 12/31/2019 is flying (I’m told this is called a Mileage Run in travel blogger lingo).

If you want to try the Companion Pass, I’d do this:

  1. Do the Priority promotion and check out the Companion Pass.
  2. If the Companion Pass is something you want to keep, I’d sign up for the Business Card after 12/14/2019. Bonus points will kick in in January or February. I’d keep using the card and buy some 1-800-Flowers for bonus points, and by mid-2020, I’d have the Companion Pass again for the rest of 2020 and 2021.
  3. In 2020, I’d still use the credit card throughout the year and buy some flowers and fly Business Select at the end of the year to get enough points for the next year’s Companion Pass. This is basically what I’m doing right now. We just get Companion Pass every year without churning credit cards. One thing to keep in mind is that for most people, you’ll have to spend most, if not all, dollars on your Rapid Rewards card throughout the year, so you need to think about whether Companion Pass is worth it compared to earnings other credit card points.

Ask me on my twitter @drtaylorj, if you have any specific question.

About the author

Travel Fanboy

Adam is the host of the Travel Fanboy Podcast, editor of TravelFanboy.com, and a super famous travel influencer. He's no expert, just an enthusiast who enjoys having a top-shelf trip at a happy hour price. Formerly of Vegas Fanboy fame.