If you want to be free to fly around the country (and slightly beyond), with a friend, the best deal around is the Southwest Companion Pass. The deal is simple: earn 110,000 Southwest points in one calendar year and you’ll get a Companion Pass valid for the rest of that year and all of the next year. While the Companion Pass is valid, it can be used an unlimited number of times. Simply book a flight for yourself, with cash or points, and then at any time before the flight you can add your companion for free (unfortunately, TSA fees apply so your companion is really only almost free).
|For more information about getting and using the Southwest Companion Pass, see: Complete guide to the Southwest Companion Pass.|
You can earn points, of course, by flying Southwest on paid tickets. Southwest’s low price fares, called “Wanna Get Away” fares, earn 6 points per dollar. So, anyone can earn a Companion Pass “simply” by flying a bit over $18,000 worth of Wanna Get Away flights. Or, you can spend half that much on expensive Business Select fares. Either way, it’s a lot of money and a lot of flying.
Luckily, there are a number of other ways to earn the Companion Pass qualifying points…
1. Credit card bonuses
Chase frequently offers 50,000 or even 60,000 bonus points for signing up for their Southwest cards. There are three versions of the card: Premier, Premier Business, and Plus. If a 60,000 point bonus is available (as is the case at the time of this writing), then you can get a Companion Pass by signing up for one 60K offer and one 50K offer and meeting spend requirements. Done. Alternatively, one could sign up for two 50K offers and spend a combined $10,000 across the two cards to get to 110K points. Ideally, you would time the sign-ups and spend so that the points would be earned as early in a calendar year as possible. That way, you’ll have the Companion Pass for nearly two years.
2. Credit card spend
Points earned from spend on Southwest credit cards count towards the Companion Pass. Unfortunately, the cards only earn 1 point per dollar for most spend, so they’re not exactly the most rewarding cards out there. But, if the spend helps you get a Companion Pass and you use it a lot, then that spend would be pretty rewarding after all.
3. Refer Friends to the Southwest Credit Cards
Chase often offers bonuses for referring friends to apply for a card you have. You can check to see if you have any referral offers by entering your last name, billing zip code, and the last four digits of your Southwest card here. Typically, you can earn 5,000 Rapid Rewards points per referral up to a maximum of 50,000 points per year. And the best part is that those points are Companion Pass eligible.
4. Shop Online via Rapid Rewards Shopping
If you do a lot of online shopping, you can earn points that qualify for the Companion Pass by shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal. The portal offers different point bonuses for different stores. It’s often possible to earn 5 or more points per dollar for shopping at popular merchants.
Note that the portal often offers bonuses for different spend thresholds. Those bonus points are not Companion Pass qualifying.
5. Dine with Rapid Rewards Dining
An easy way to earn Companion Pass qualifying points is to sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining. Link the credit card you use to pay at restaurants to this account. That way, anytime you eat out at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn Southwest points which qualify towards the companion pass.
Note that bonus points (for signing up or for special promotions) are not Companion Pass qualifying.
6. Book Hotels with RocketMiles
Rocketmiles is a hotel booking site that rewards you with airline miles instead of hotel points. When searching for a hotel, you can pick from a very large list of reward types. If you pick Southwest Rapid Rewards, then it’s possible to earn Companion Pass qualifying points for your hotel stays.
Important: Promotional bonus points from Rocketmiles are not Companion Pass qualifying points. For example, look at the following search results. See how the top result shows 16,000 points earned for the Hyatt Place? Since the 2,000 point number is crossed out, I believe this means that you would get 2,000 base points plus 14,000 promotional points. Only the 2,000 base points would count towards your companion pass.
One big issue with Rocketmiles is that prices are sometimes much, much higher than other booking options. I ran a few searches and found some hotels listed at the same price as booking direct, some were just a tad higher (and therefore worth booking with Rocketmiles if it means earning a huge number of points), but some were hundreds of dollars higher. Make sure to price compare before booking!
Also note that when you book through sites like Rocketmiles, you won’t earn hotel points or elite credit, and if you have elite status it probably won’t be recognized.
If you’re new to RocketMiles and would like to give it a try, here’s my referral link: www.rocketmiles.com/refer/FREQUENTMILER. We will each earn 1,000 bonus miles after your first booking (but those bonus miles will not be companion pass qualifying).
7. Buy Flowers via 1-800-Flowers
With 1-800-Flowers, you can earn 1,000 Companion Pass qualifying Southwest points per order with promo code RR22. To qualify, orders must be $29.99 or more and only one promo code can be used per order. If you think you’ll place a lot of orders, I recommend first signing up for the Celebration Passport program in order to get free shipping and handling. Through this link (www.1800flowers.com/promo-codes) you can often find promo codes that will give you a discount off of Celebration Passport’s usual $29.99 per year price. For example, at the time of this writing, the code TENPASS offers $10 off.
Mix and match
Obviously you do not have to earn all of the 110,000 points with a single method. You could earn some points with a single credit card bonus, other points with credit card spend, more points via online shopping, etc.
Southwest has additional point earning partners not listed above (found here). In most cases you will earn Companion Pass qualifying points through those partners when earning base points, but not when earning point bonuses (such as signup bonuses or promotional bonuses).
Stuff that doesn’t count
The following do not count towards a Companion Pass:
- Points purchased or gifted
- Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Points transferred from other loyalty programs
- Most partner bonuses. That is, regular point earnings from partners usually do qualify, but promotional bonus points do not.