This past week, Adam and I took our first flight using Southwest Companion Pass—that means that I booked my flight, added my designated companion (my husband, Adam) and he flew free. We also booked these flights using the points from earning Companion Pass, which means we paid total $22.40 for BOTH of us to fly to Austin last-minute.
Obviously, this is great because Southwest flies direct DCA to AUS, where Adam’s from, but we’re also now dreaming of all the places we’re going to travel over the next year with Companion Pass. So, how did we earn this magical pass?
HOW TO EARN SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS
The first step in earning Southwest Companion Pass: take 100 one-way flights in a year OR sign up for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Visa and earn 110,000 points in a year. Since there’s no way we were taking 100 one-way flights on Southwest in a year, signing up for the credit card to maximize our spending was our route of choice.
- Southwest is always running promotions and the current promotion allows you to earn 60,000 points in your first year—40,000 for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months and 20,000 more for spending $12,000 in the first 12 months. That puts you more than halfway towards earning Companion Pass and gives you 60,000 points to spend on flights, which is a treat in and of itself.
- On top of the 60,000, you’ll earn 2X points on Southwest and hotel/car rental partners and 1X points on all other purchases, plus 3,000 anniversary points.
- Once you have Companion Pass, you designate your “Companion”—the person who will fly free with you. You simply book your flight, add your companion, and all you do is pay the taxes/fees for that person (it was $11.20 for what would have been a $600 flight to Austin). You can change your Companion up to 3 times in one calendar year.
- The card does have a $69/annual fee, but that pays for itself with your first flight.
Ideally, you want to get the card during a promotion and then put ALL of your purchases on the Southwest card to get to the 110,000 points easily. Groceries, restaurants, home updates, utilities—for us, as long as there isn’t a fee for using a credit card, we’re using our Southwest card.
For those of you who aren’t currently using a points-earning credit card: think about what you spend in a month—and consider the points you could be earning if you used a credit card rather than your debit card. I wrote more about this in our budget post, but, the bottom line is, as long as you’re paying the balance off every month, a points-earning credit card is a no brainer. And, if you’re someone who travels where Southwest flies, then the Southwest credit card is the obvious choice.
Also, the shoes in the photo below are THE best travel shoes—get $20 off the Rothy’s loafers here.
HOW TO KEEP SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS
Now, that we’ve earned Southwest Companion Pass, how do we plan on keeping it? Like I said in the previous section, we put all our purchases on the card. We fly Southwest whenever possible to accrue 2X points and points on flights.
Also, there’s a bit of gaming the system that you can do. Every other year, you’re eligible to sign up for the card while they’re running a points promotion. That means, if you have a consistent companion, you and the other person can alternate years signing up during a promotion. This year, I signed up in February while there was an earning promotion going on—spend $4,000 in 3 months to earn 50,000 points and Companion Pass. When that runs out, Adam will sign up during a promotion. We’ll keep alternating so that we can consistently keep Companion Pass going.
WHERE WE’RE HEADED WITH OUR COMPANION PASS
So, where are we headed now that we have Companion Pass? Well, of course, first on the agenda was Austin this past week. Next up: Colorado in August. Then, it’s yet to be seen! We’ll likely book a few more trips to Austin (flights are usually RIDICULOUS, so this is so clutch!) and then I’m thinking Puerto Rico, maybe Arizona, perhaps a late summer trip to New England—the sky’s the limit (literally!).