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The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is an elite travel succor that’s almost too suitable to be suitable. This pass allows another passenger to fly with you for free (plus taxes) an unlimited alternative of occasions for the remainder of the year it’s earned, plus all the following year.
So whenever you earn the pass within the near future, you’ll have it until December 31, 2022, meaning anyone can fly with you for almost free for about 18 months. And thanks to some fairly improbable Southwest credit score card gives, there’s actually an easy way to earn this pass appropriate now without even stepping on a Southwest plane.
How does this work? And is it one thing you ought to achieve within the aftermath of the pandemic? Let’s dig into the details and salvage out if getting a Southwest Companion Pass makes sense for you.
The Southwest Companion Pass is in fact a no-strings-attached perk, as it comes with totally a few restrictions. The pass allows you to train a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, plus the value of any taxes and expenses, which are generally as low as $5.60 one way for a domestic flight.
The one main rule of the Companion Pass is there ought to be at least one seat available for sale in any fare class on a flight for which you’ve purchased your absorb label, either with cash or Southwest features.
You’re allowed to change your companion up to three occasions per year (no longer together with the initial companion), meaning in theory you may have as many as seven individuals as your companion over two calendar years.
Traditionally, to earn the pass, you have to earn 125,000 qualifying features or fly 100 qualifying flights with Southwest in a calendar year. These features can be earned in three ways: paid flights booked through Southwest, base features earned from Rapid Rewards partners and features earned on Southwest credit score cards.
That last technique is essentially the most important one, because bonus features earned from Southwest credit score card signal-up bonuses qualify for the Companion Pass as smartly. This makes earning the pass that remarkable easier due to the increased gives we’re seeing appropriate now on Southwest credit score cards.
Even larger, earlier this year Southwest boosted many Southwest frequent flyer accounts with 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying features, meaning you handiest need to earn 100,000 qualifying features in 2021 to earn the pass.
You’re going to automatically bag 25,000 Companion Pass-qualifying features in 2021 whenever you had a Southwest frequent flyer account at the discontinue of 2020.
There’s one caveat to this bonus: Most productive Southwest frequent flyer accounts (meaning your Rapid Rewards account with Southwest, no longer one of its credit score cards) that have been opened on or before December 31, 2020, earn the extra qualifying features. So whenever you’ve by no means had a Southwest frequent flyer account and you launch one now, you’ll calm need to earn the fat 125,000 features for the Companion Pass.
There are at the second a total of 5 Southwest credit score cards — both personal and trade — that have signal-up gives for recent card holders that can mean you can earn the Companion Pass. Right here’s an overview of each of them:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn 65,000 bonus features after you exercise $2,000 on purchases within the primary three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 65,000 bonus features after you exercise $2,000 on purchases within the primary three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn 65,000 bonus features after you exercise $2,000 on purchases within the primary three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Trade Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus features whenever you exercise $3,000 on purchases within the primary three months after opening the account.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Trade Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus features whenever you exercise $5,000 on purchases within the primary three months after opening the account.
The primary three cards on the list are the personal Southwest credit score cards — the Southwest Plus card, the Southwest Premier card and the Southwest Priority card. All three of these cards at the second have increased signal-up gives, which means you can earn 65,000 bonus features on any of them.
Now, getting this kind of personal cards won’t earn you the pass all by itself, however you’ll potentially bag two-thirds of the way there. After earning the 65,000-level bonus, plus the 2,000 features you’ll bag from finishing the $2,000 minimum spending requirement, you’ll be at 67,000 qualifying features — 33,000 features shy of earning the pass whenever you obtained the extra 25,000-level boost earlier this year.
Then, after earning the credit score card bonus, you may earn these remaining Companion Pass features by the use of your newly acquired Southwest credit score card on everyday purchases, combined with flying Southwest and partner activity. Partner activities encompass looking out online through the Southwest looking out portal, purchasing flora and car rentals.
With many individuals looking out online these days, you can actually rack up a first rate amount of bonus features from the Southwest Rapid Rewards looking out portal. Going through the looking out space first accurate takes an extra minute, and ultimately takes you to the same merchant websites you’d trudge to at once, however you’re earning extra features along the way.
Also, to add to the ease of earning the pass, Southwest lately released a promotion that allows some Southwest frequent flyer members to earn an additional 10,000 qualifying features accurate by taking one flight between now and July 31, 2021. To gaze whenever you’re targeted for this promotion, signal into your Southwest frequent flyer account and trudge to the “Promotions” allotment within “My Account.”
But there is in fact another card on the list that allows you to approach even nearer to earning the pass — whenever you have a small trade that qualifies for a trade credit score card. Unique card holders can earn 80,000 bonus features with the Southwest Performance Trade card after spending $5,000 within the primary three months after opening the account, that may save you at 85,000 total Companion Pass qualifying features — 80,000 bonus features, plus 5,000 features for spending $5,000 on the card.
That leaves you accurate 15,000 features shy of earning the pass, and whenever you’re able to earn the 10,000-level bonus from the targeted promotion by taking one flight between now and July 31, you’ll handiest need to earn an extremely easy 5,000 additional features.
Finally, there’s also the Southwest Premier Trade credit score card, however the provide on this card is somewhat inferior to the others, as you’ll handiest earn 60,000 bonus features after spending $3,000 on purchases within the primary three months of opening the account.
Consume one — or even two — Southwest credit score cards to mean you can earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
Now, whenever you want another way to earn the remaining Companion Pass qualifying features after getting the signal-up bonus from this kind of cards, right here’s another chance — you can actually bag two Southwest credit score cards and combine the bonus features from both.
The important caveat right here is that you can’t apply for two personal cards — the second card ought to be a trade credit score card. That’s because Chase — the bank that concerns Southwest credit score cards — limits customers to having accurate one personal Southwest credit score card launch at a time. But Chase does allow you to apply for both a personal card and a trade card.
Correct take into consideration that the credit score cards ought to be for the same applicant — you can’t combine features amongst members. Also, Chase has develop into somewhat more restrictive about issuing trade credit score cards all through the pandemic, although you may have more luck now than some companies did earlier within the year.
Let’s save it all together in an example. Imagine you apply for both the Southwest Plus card and the Southwest Performance Trade card. With $7,000 in combined purchases between the two cards, you can earn the pass appropriate away without any flying, extra spending or partner activity. That’s because you’ll earn 65,000 bonus features from the Southwest Plus card after spending $2,000 on it, and 80,000 bonus features from the Southwest Performance Trade after spending $5,000 on that card.
That’s a total of 152,000 qualifying features — 145,000 features from the signal-up bonuses and 7,000 features from the purchases you’ll make in meeting the spending requirements. That’s sufficient to earn the Companion Pass with or without the extra 25,000-level boost from Southwest.
This same math works by combing one of the crucial personal card gives with the much less costly Southwest Premier Trade card. Use $3,000 on the Southwest Premier Trade within the primary three months after opening the account and you’ll earn 60,000 features. Add that to the 65,000 features you’ll earn whenever you exercise $2,000 on one of the crucial personal cards and you’ll have a total of 130,000 features — 125,000 from the signal-up bonuses, plus another 5,000 features from spending $5,000 between the two cards.
Correct remember that since these are all Chase credit score cards, all applicants are field to Chase’s “5/24” rule. Below this rule, whenever you’ve been approved for 5 or more credit score cards across all banks within the past 24 months, Chase will automatically mutter your application.
Southwest has three personal cards and two trade cards, all of which have signal-up bonus gives.
With three varied personal Southwest credit score cards, you may be wondering which card is simplest for you. All three Southwest credit score cards earn the same alternative of features on your everyday purchases. You’ll earn 2 features for each dollar you exercise on Southwest as smartly as on Rapid Rewards resort and car rental partner purchases, and 1 level per dollar on all varied purchases.
Compared to varied credit score cards that earn rewards, that’s no longer essentially the most lucrative earning rate. For instance, CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit score card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, earns 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% whenever you make a purchase, and another 1% whenever you pay it off.
But despite the fact that the earning rates on the cards aren’t market leading, there are significant differences among them that make it worth pondering about your recommendations. These encompass the annual charge, the anniversary bonus features, travel credit score earned and the chance to acquire up to a larger boarding place.
You’ll salvage the advantages of the Southwest Plus, the Southwest Premier and the Southwest Premier Trade to be similar. The Plus charges $69 on an annual basis, while the Premier (both personal and trade variations) charges $99 annually. The distinction between them is the bonus features you receive each year after you pay the annual charge.
The Southwest Plus card comes with 3,000 bonus features (worth $42 at 1.4 cents per level, which is generally the value you bag when redeeming for Southwest’s “Wanna Gather Away” fares) on each card anniversary, meaning each 365 days from whenever you have been first approved for the card. The Southwest Premier and the Southwest Premier Trade approach with 6,000 bonus features at each card anniversary, which are worth $84 at 1.4 cents per level.
Although the Southwest Plus card is the least costly chance for the primary year, if this is a card you suspect you’ll be maintaining for years to approach, you’ll salvage the Southwest Premier to be the larger lengthy-length of time value, thanks to the bonus features.
With the Southwest Priority, the annual charge is significantly increased at $149 per year, however the advantages are enormously larger. Now not handiest achieve you earn 7,500 bonus features (worth $105) at each card anniversary, you’ll also receive a $75 Southwest travel credit score each year and four upgraded boarding certificates annually. The $75 travel credit score can be ragged toward any Southwest flight purchase — accurate pay for your flight or taxes on your Southwest card and you’ll receive a statement credit score up to $75.
The Southwest Performance Trade has the ideally suited annual charge at $199 per year, however with this card, you’ll earn 9,000 bonus features (worth $126) at each card anniversary year, four upgraded boarding certificates annually, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck charge credit score and in-flight Wi-Fi credit score.
You’ll behold that the two most costly cards both approach with upgraded boarding certificates, which are unusual to Southwest for the reason that airline boards its airplanes very in another way than most varied airlines. There’s no assigned seating — instead, you receive a boarding place based on your flight examine-in time. Passengers are assigned into teams A, B and C, and can be anywhere between 1 and 60 within each community.
Upgraded boarding certificates normally allow you to purchase an A1 through A15 place at the gate (if available), supplying you with the chance to be one of the crucial primary passengers to board and occupy almost any seat you’d adore, making certain you’re no longer caught within the back of the plane in a center seat. Upgraded boardings typically cost $30 to $50 each, so if this is one thing you’d purchase anyway, you can save a $120 to $200 value on this succor. You can even use these certificates for varied passengers flying with you.
Taking into consideration all of the advantages, you’ll behold the value of the Southwest Priority and Southwest Performance Trade cards far surpasses the value of the varied three cards, both within the primary year and each year thereafter.
The Southwest Companion Pass can be a great way to save thousands of dollars on family travel.
I’ve personally been a Southwest Companion Pass holder for almost 13 years now, and it’s saved my family tens of thousands of dollars on travel. The pass allows my husband, my youngsters, my parents and even friends to fly with me on each Southwest flight I take accurate for the value of taxes. (Domestic taxes are $5.60 each way, while international taxes vary reckoning on the destination.)
The most straightforward part about the Companion Pass is that you can use all the Southwest features you earned from the signal-up bonus gives to book flights — you don’t lose them by getting the Companion Pass — and then calm add your companion onto your label the use of the pass. This means both passengers are essentially flying for free apart from for taxes and expenses, essentially doubling the value of the signal-up gives.
Greatest of all, the timing on these credit score card bonus gives is supreme. Earning the Companion Pass as early within the year as conceivable means you’ll have it longer. And earning the pass in June — which is feasible whenever you apply for the cards now — means you’ll have the pass for almost 18 months.
With travel starting to make a comeback, now’s the time to grab one or even two of these Southwest credit score cards and bag them working for you.
Southwest personal credit score cards:
Learn more and apply for the Southwest Plus card.
Learn more and apply for the Southwest Premier card.
Learn more and apply for the Southwest Priority card.
Southwest trade credit score cards:
Learn more and apply for the Southwest Premier Trade card.
Learn more and apply for the Southwest Performance Trade card.
Salvage out which cards CNN Underscored selected as its simplest credit score cards of 2021.