The Southwest Companion Pass: Why It's Amazing and How to Earn It!
If you read my post where I gushed about the benefits of Southwest Rapid Rewards, you'll remember that I mentioned the Southwest Companion Pass and the need to dedicate an entire post to this holy grail of rewards travel. At the time of writing this post, I do not have a Companion Pass...but I've been strategically earning and positioning myself (well, Marcus) to get one in January. I hope to be able to update this with good news next month!
* Update- We earned our Companion Pass! We used Marriott's Air+ Hotel Package to get a 7 night stay at a Marriott hotel and 120,000 Rapid Rewards points. Southwest is only offering this as an option until March 31st, 2017, so if you're interested in using this option, I'd start asap!
If you're unfamiliar with the Southwest Companion Pass, it basically allows a companion to fly free with you any time you fly Southwest. Once a person earns the companion pass, they can designate someone to be their companion and get the free flights. Super simple, right?
Why the Companion Pass is Amazing
The Companion Pass is about as lucrative as it gets with rewards travel. Why? Because you get to use this pass as often as you want during the year you earn it, AND the following year. That's right! If you earn the pass strategically, you could essentially get buy one, get one free flights for almost two years! For example, if you earn the Companion Pass in February of 2017, your pass would be good for the rest of 2017 and expire in December of 2018. That's why it's really beneficial to try and earn the pass early in the year to get the maximum value.
The Companion Pass can also be used on both paid and award flights. Regardless of whether you pay out of pocket or use your points to book your flight, your companion can still fly for free with you. If you use your points to book the flight, you're essentially getting TWO free flights!
Also, you don't have to use the same companion for the entire duration of the pass. You can change your companion up to 3 times to allow your family members or friends to fly with you.
How To Earn the Companion Pass
This is where things get a little more complex. You can technically earn the Companion Pass in two different ways: Flying 100 one-way flights (50 RT flights) with Southwest in one calendar year, or earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards Points in one calendar year. Unless you fly a LOT for business or pleasure, it is a little unrealistic to earn the Companion Pass the first way. So that leaves earning the 110,000 points.
110,000 points may seem like a lot...it is! But, it's not impossible. Here's some ways you can earn the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass.
- Flying- You earn points each time you fly on Southwest. When you're in the booking process, you'll be able to see how many points you can expect to earn from your flight.
- Signup for the Southwest Credit Card- Currently, Southwest offers two credit cards: a personal card and a business card. On both cards, the introductory offer is 50,000 bonus points once you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. You can also earn 2 points per dollar on all other flights, hotels and vacation packages booked with Southwest and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. You can apply for your card here! *Make sure to use any credit card responsibly*
- Transferring points from other rewards programs - Southwest is only allowing this to be an option until March 31st, 2017. Marriott has an amazing air+ hotel package that I plan to use to earn ours.
- Using the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal- This is perfect if you're an online shopper. You can use the Rapid Rewards online portal to shop at 100s of stores and receive points on the things you were going to buy anyway. Each store offers a certain number of points per dollar. For example, Sephora offers 3 points per dollar and Macy's may offer 5 points per dollar. Stores also offer promotions with even more points per dollar. I recently purchased shoes from the Nike store online when they were offering 10 points per dollar!
- Southwest Dining Rewards- This is a really easy way to earn Rapid Rewards points without flying or getting a credit card. When you sign up for the Rapid Rewards Dining Program, you can earn 3 points per dollar every time you eat at any of the restaurants that partner with Southwest. You can link as many debit or credit cards to your account and anytime you use them at a partner restaurant, you'll earn points. Currently there's an offer to receive 1,000 bonus points within your first 30 days of joining. Join now!
The Southwest Companion Pass is an amazing benefit of the Rapid Rewards Program and is very beneficial for people who travel often domestically and to the Caribbean.
Do you have the Southwest Companion Pass? Comment below and let me know some ways you earned yours!