Archives for April 16, 2018

Southwest Companion Pass: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier + Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Cards

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swa_logoSouthwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book your own paid and/or award flights. If you either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year, you’ll earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year the following full calendar year. For example, if you earned it in September 2018, you would have the benefit for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. You can change your designated companion up to three times each calendar year.

Points earned from credit cards count, including sign-up bonuses. You can earn very close to the 110,000 points required from just two credit cards.

southwestbusinessSouthwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business card offers 60,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card (Personal/Consumer) is offering 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. $99 annual fee applies. 6,000 points at card anniversary (and you pay another annual fee). No foreign transaction fees.

Restrictions. All of these Southwest credit cards are subject to “5/24” restrictions, which means that your application will be automatically denied if you have opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months (check your credit reports). Our household strategy is to have one person only apply for Chase 5/24 cards, and the other person applies for everything else. There is also this language on the consumer card:

This product is available to you if you do not have a current Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card and have not received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.

Basically, you can get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest consumer card once every 24 months. You can also get one sign-up bonus from a Southwest business card once every 24 months. (Before, for example, you might apply for both a Plus and a Premier close together.)

110,000 Rapid Rewards points redemptions vary in a narrow range, but a reasonable approximation from my experience is $1,700 in Wanna Get Away airfare (you are still liable for taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way). Importantly, Southwest does NOT have blackout dates or seat restrictions when you redeem with points. If $1,700 would have theoretically covered 16 free one-way flights, then with the Companion Pass you’d now be getting 16 free one-way flights for two people! You also can’t forget that Southwest still has the customer-friendly perk of two free checked bags per person. That’s a lot of free and flexible travel.

Our family policy is to not try out a new credit card unless it offers us $500 in total value. Just the free award flights from the points are enough to satisfy that rule, and then you can add on the value of the companion tickets.

Bottom line. Right now, you can earn 100,000 Southwest points from just two credit card sign-up bonuses, which is very close to the 110,000 points needed to qualify for the Southwest Companion pass (and a lot of free Southwest flights). This would get you a free companion ticket on every flight bought with cash or points for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019. Southwest still includes two free checked bags per person.