You know why I never worry about last-minute trips back home or a weekend trip to visit a friend out of state? I have one of the greatest travel tools at my disposal – the Southwest Airlines companion pass. If you are looking to get into the miles and points game, you’ve got to get this.
Here’s how it works – my husband currently has the Southwest Airlines companion pass in his name. When he books a trip on Southwest, I get to go with him for free to anywhere that Southwest flies (which now even includes Costa Rica)! It’s that simple! This is because he earned the pass and I’m listed as his companion. Now it is possible to switch companions if you want, (but my husband isn’t doing that or he’d never hear the end of it).
How do you get this incredible companion pass? All you need to do is earn 110,000 points with Southwest! Don’t be intimated by that number, because it’s very easy to do with Southwest Airlines credit cards. I’ll break it down for you:
- Get out of debt. I can’t stress this enough as step one. Obviously, Southwest Airlines doesn’t care if you’re in debt and the credit card companies really don’t care that you’re in debt, but if you are unable to pay off your credit card statement balance each month, then you are paying interest and it will most likely negate any credit card rewards you earn as a result of spending on the card. If your spending is under control, then move on to step two!
- Apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus credit card and earn the opening bonus. Playing the credit card game to earn points for travel is all about the opening bonus – seriously. You can spend all you want all year long on your travel card, but unless you’re opening new cards with the goal of earning the bonus, it won’t get you far. The bonus offer on the Southwest card is currently 50,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months – you need to make sure you spend the full $2,000 to earn all those points. Now if you’ve never done this before, I know $2,000 may seem like a lot to put on a credit card. However, remember it’s spread out over 3 months – that comes out to be $666.67/mo. I put all my spending on my credit card unless I’m forced to use cash and I completely recommend doing that. Think about all that you can put on the card – can you pay your rent/mortgage with a credit card? If you’re going out to dinner with friends, can you offer to pay the entire bill and have them give you cash/Venmo their portion? (I do this all the time, thanks, Venmo.) What about your electric bill? Daycare bill? Groceries? It adds up and I think most people would have no problem meeting the $2,000 minimum spend (credit card points lingo, you’ll hear this term again) in 3 months.
- Apply for the Southwest Airlines Premier Business credit card and earn the opening bonus. Wait, what? Didn’t you just apply for a Southwest card? You sure did! There’s no time to mess around here, if you want that companion pass, you’ve got to work for it. As of this writing, the bonus offer for the Southwest Airlines Premier Business card is 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Okay, so now the spending is getting a little trickier – first you only had to spend $666.67/month for 3 months to get your opening bonus and now we are adding $1,000/month to make that $1,666.67/month for 3 months. I still think this is doable for most people if you put all the things on these two credit cards. There are also some hacks you can do if you are really having trouble meeting the minimum spend (if so, go you, this minimum spend doesn’t even cover rent in the NYC metro area I live in). The easiest tip I’ll give you right now is to buy gift cards if you’re not spending enough otherwise. You can purchase Visa gift cards on your Southwest cards and then use the Visa gift cards to buy things after your first 3 months is up.
- You now have 110,000 points! This is enough for the companion pass! Officially, you need to earn 110,000 points in a calendar year and you’ll have the companion pass for 2 years. However, this is when it’s important to read the fine print – it’s not 2 years from when you earn it, it’s for the remainder of the year in which you earned those points (so if you finish earning in November, you’ll have the companion pass throughout December), plus the following full calendar year (Jan-Dec). So ideally, you want to earn those 110,000 points as soon as possible at the beginning of the year. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you wait to do this until the end of the year, so plan accordingly.
Now for some FAQ:
- Aren’t there annual fees? Yes, the Southwest Airlines Plus credit card has an annual fee of $69 and the Southwest Airlines Premier business card has an annual fee of $99. But you’re going to be flying all over the US (and possibly more – hello, Costa Rica!) for free! That $69 + $99 is nothing to worry about, in this case, the credit card rewards are far more profitable than that fee.
- What if I’m not a business owner? I bet you’ve done something that qualifies as a business. Ever sold anything on eBay? Had a yard sale? Rented a room? Baked brownies and sold them? Painted someone’s house? Taught someone how to play soccer? Baby-sat? There’s your business. I sell things on eBay occasionally, so I made that my business. There is no reason to get worked up and worried that your business on the application isn’t an official business – no one is going to be checking that your charges are all “business charges” or anything. My husband and I have several business cards and have never had a problem in this manner.
- What happens after two years? Switch! This is where you really get into the credit card game, it’s like a Chinese fire drill. Don’t wait, you can cancel your Southwest cards as soon as the annual fee comes up and then have your companion be the one to apply for both Southwest cards at the end of the two years the same way you did. Now you get to be the companion! And the best part? You can keep doing this every two years. The bonus offers may fluctuate in the amount offered, but you will still be eligible as long as you don’t have the card and haven’t received a card member bonus in 24 months. My husband and I have been doing this for 5 years, so I can attest it’s possible to keep the companion pass going consistently; just remember, timing is everything.
If you are interested in applying for a Southwest card at this time, you can click here to use my referral link! (*Disclaimer – My referral link is always available, but it may not match the promotional offers available.)
As always, feel free to drop me a line in the comments section if you have any more questions!