The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel. It allows someone to fly with you for free!
All you have to do is pay the taxes, which are $5.60 each way for domestic travel.
It is essentially a buy one get one free ticket you can use an unlimited amount of times in the calendar year you earn the pass, plus the following calendar year.
If you travel several times per year, it could save you thousands in travel costs.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to bring a designated person for (nearly) free on any Southwest flight you take.
All you need to do is pay the taxes and fees, which for domestic U.S. flights is $5.60 one-way.
You can also use the Companion Pass an unlimited amount of times, which can save you thousands of dollars a year.
You can also change your companion up to three times per calendar year.
How to Get the Southwest Companion Pass
To qualify the for the Companion Pass you need to to either:
- Earn 135,000 Southwest points in a calendar year to qualify, OR
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights on Southwest.
How to Track Your Companion Pass Status
You can track your status towards the Companion Pass easily on Southwest.com:
- Login to Southwest.com
- Click “My Account” in the top right.
- Your qualification status will be displayed under “My Rapid Rewards” along with you status towards A-List.
How Long is the Companion Pass Good For?
The Companion Pass is valid for:
- For the remainder of the year that you earn the Companion Pass
- The entire following year
For example, if you earned the Companion Pass in February 2023, you would have it for the rest of 2023 and all of 2024 for 22 months!
It is essential to correctly time when you earn the Companion Pass to maximize the time you can use it.
For example, if you earned the Companion Pass in December, you only get it for 13 months. But if you get it in January, you get it for 24 months.
How to Earn Points for the Companion Pass
Several ways to earn points towards the Companion Pass include credit cards, flying, dining, hotels, and more.
Below are all ways to earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass.
The Easiest Way: Southwest Credit Cards
Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards are the easiest way to earn points to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
Chase offers three personal credit cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card– bonus_miles_full
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Card– bonus_miles_full
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card– bonus_miles_full
Chase also offers two Southwest Airlines business cards:
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card– bonus_miles_full
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card– bonus_miles_full
Normally, the quickest way to earn the Companion Pass is by opening one business and one consumer credit card.
You can qualify as a small business in many ways, including working as an independent contractor (1099), selling things online or in-person (eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, etc.), owning rental property, etc.
Just remember the Southwest credit card bonus rules:
- You are ineligible for a bonus on a consumer card if (1) you currently hold a Southwest consumer card or (2) you received a bonus on any consumer Southwest card in the past 24 months.
- You are ineligible for a bonus on a business card if you currently have that specific business card or earned a bonus on that specific card within the last 24 months.
For example, if you currently have the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, you are ineligible for a new bonus on any Southwest consumer card (Plus, Priority, and Premier).
But if it’s been more than 24 months since you earned the bonus, you could cancel the card and get a new bonus.
My Recommended Card Strategy
I am my wife’s companion. To maximize the time of the Companion Pass, my wife in November, she opened up the following:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card to get four free upgraded boardings each year, 25% back on in-flight purchases, 7,500-anniversary points, and $75 annual Southwest travel credit.
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card to get another four upgraded boardings each year, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, and 9,000-anniversary points.
The next step is critical.
If you open up a Southwest card in October or November, you do not want to meet the minimum spend requirement for the bonus until the new year.
Check when your December credit card statement closes, and when your December statement closes, begin spending to meet the bonus goal (e.g., if your statement closes on December 12th, try to hit the bonus starting on December 13th since your following statement will close on January 12th).
If you hit the bonus early, you will only have the Pass for 13 months, but if you wait until January, you will have it for 23 months.
I like to play it safe, so I wait until January to meet my minimum spend requirement to avoid any chance of the bonus posting early (e.g., for a $3,000 minimum spend, I will spend $2,700 in November-December, and $300 in early January).
After reaching both bonuses, we ended up with the Companion Pass for 23 months plus 163,000 Rapid Rewards points, allowing her to fly for free using her points and me tagging along as the Companion.
Referring Friends for Southwest Credit Cards
You can also earn additional points by referring a friend to a Southwest Credit Card.
It’s not always available, but it can be a great way to rack up some additional points.
You can earn 20,000 points per successful referral up to 100,000 points, but it is subject to change at any time.
Flights on Southwest Airlines
Another popular way is to earn points via flying on Southwest, which requires more work and takes longer than the credit card option.
Southwest awards points based on your fare within 72 hours after your flight:
- Wanna Get Away = 6x points per dollar
- Wanna Get Away Plus = 8x points per dollar
- Anytime = 10x points per dollar
- Business Select = 12x points per dollar
If you were trying to achieve the Companion Pass via only flying, that would be the equivalent of spending:
- $22,500 on Wanna Get Away fares.
- $16,875 on Wanna Get Away Plus fares.
- $13,500 on Anytime fares.
- $11,250 on Business Select fares.
Additionally, flight bonus points for Southwest’s elite status A-List (25%) or A-List Preferred (100%) do not count towards the Companion Pass.
You can earn Rapid Rewards points that also count towards the Companion Pass when you stay at hotels.
To earn the most points, you could book via these two portals:
However, if you have elite status with the hotel, it is unlikely to be recognized, similar to if you were to book with a travel agency like Priceline, Hotwire, etc.
You can also elect to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards instead of hotel points with the following partners:
Other Ways to Earn Points for Companion Pass
There are several other ways to earn points toward the Companion Pass, including:
- Car Rentals with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty.
- Rapid Rewards Dining®
- Rapid Rewards Shopping®
- Laithwaite’s Wine®
- Reliant Energy (electricity)
- NRG Home (electricity and natural gas)
- MakeItCount™ – Marathon (gas rewards)
- Harry and David (gourmet gifts)
- Home Chef (meal kits)
Points That Do Not Count
Not all Rapid Rewards points you earn will qualify for the Companion Pass. Here are the points that don’t count:
- Purchased points
- Partner program transfers (e.g., transferring from Chase Ultimate Rewards)
- Transferred/gifted points
- Points earned from program enrollment
- Tier bonus points
- Promotion bonus points (except the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards and Southwest Business Refer a Company promotion)
- Flight bonus points
- Partner bonus points (except the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards)
- Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Purchased promotional tier qualifying points
Companion Pass Rules and Tips
There are a few rules and tips you should know about before using your Companion Pass.
How do I change my Southwest companion?
You can only change your companion three times per calendar year, for a maximum of four companions for the first year. You select your first companion online, but subsequent changes need to be done over the phone by calling 1-800-435-9792. The entire process should only take 5 to 10 minutes.
Can I use the Companion Pass and points?
Yes. You can book your ticket with points or cash, and then pay the companion's taxes and fees.
How do I add a companion to an existing reservation?
You are allowed to add a companion to an existing reservation. As long as you are flying and the flight is not sold out, your companion can fly with you.
After booking your flight, visit the My Trips section of your account, then find your upcoming flight, and click "Add Companion." You will then need to pay the taxes associated with the ticket.
What happens to my companion's reservation if I change my companion?
You will have to first cancel your companion's reservation before changing your companion.
Does my companion earn Rapid Rewards points when they fly?
No. You will earn your points if you booked a cash ticket, but they will not earn any points.
Can my companion travel without me?
No. You must be traveling with the companion for that person to travel.
Can I change my flight on a Companion Pass booking?
Yes, but your Companion's flight must also be changed to the new flight or cancel their flight.
Will I lose my Companion Pass if I cancel my Southwest credit cards?
No. Your credit cards have no impact on the Companion Pass after you earned them.
Does the Companion Pass Work on International Flights?
Yes, it works on all flights that Southwest flies, including international flights. But you do have to pay the taxes and fees for your companion ticket, which can be higher on international flights.
The Southwest Companion Pass is a great trick to get free travel if you qualify. You can’t beat buy one get one free flights for up to two years.