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Yesterday, the offers on all three Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards personal credit cards increased to now offer 60,000 Rapid Rewards points when you open a new card and spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. While it’s awesome to see those offers return, and one could now pair any one of the personal cards with a business card to earn an easy companion pass, the timing on these offers is not ideal for maximization.
Key Card Details
It’s nice to see increased offers return on these cards, and 60K Southwest points represent a good return on spend as that should buy around $900 in Wanna Get Away fares (or perhaps as much as $1,140 worth of airfare since you can get up to 1.9c per point in some instances). While other airline cards offer the opportunity to get outsized value with international premium cabin redemptions, Southwest points can arguably be better for domestic redemptions provided you plan in advance.
Of course, the most popular use for these 60K offers has long been as a shortcut to the Southwest Companion Pass. Unfortunately, Chase has made it a bit more difficult to do so, now including language that disqualifies you from getting a new cardmember bonus if you currently have any of the Southwest personal credit cards or have received a new cardmember bonus on any of them in the past 24 months. Note that this does not include the business card, thus it is still possible to open two Southwest credit cards (one personal and one business) and earn a Companion Pass from the new cardmember bonuses on those two cards. You can read more about the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card here.
See our Complete Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass for full details, but the short story is this: if you earn 110K Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a single calendar year, you will earn a Companion Pass that is good for the remainder of that year and the entire next year. This means that a companion can fly with you for free (paying only the taxes, which are typically $5.60 each way within the US) every time you fly during the validity of the pass. This is true whether you pay for your ticket with cash, gift cards, Rapid Rewards points, or even if someone else uses their points or money to pay for your ticket. You can even change the companion up to 3 times per calendar year. It’s a a great deal — in my opinion, the hands-down best deal in domestic travel.
However, consider the timing on earning the pass. If you were to open one of these personal cards and the Southwest business card right now, the soonest you would earn the new cardmember bonuses would be June. That means you would have a Companion Pass valid for the remainder of 2019 and until December 31, 2020. About a year and a half with a Companion Pass sure isn’t bad.
On the other hand, the best time to open Southwest credit cards (for the purposes of earning a Companion Pass) has historically been during the last few months of the year. For example, if you were to open a Southwest personal card and a Southwest business card in November and then hold off until January to meet the spending requirements on both cards, the new cardmember bonuses would then post in January or February, putting you on a path to earn a Companion Pass that is valid for nearly two years. Of course, the gamble there is not knowing whether or not the new cardmember bonuses will be high enough to get you to a Companion Pass at that time of year — though they usually do offer these increased bonuses a couple of times each year (and often with good timing for scooping up the Companion Pass early in the year).
Common questions / confusion
Whenever these bonuses come up, there are a couple of common questions / misconceptions that are worth noting here:
- You do not need 110K points in your account to earn the Companion Pass. Many people get confused about whether their current point balance counts towards the pass. To be clear, only the points you have earned during a single calendar year count. If you have 60K points in your account that you earned as a new cardmember bonus in November 2018, those do not count towards the Companion Pass in 2019 (you needed to have earned 110K during 2018 or you’ll need to earn a fresh 110K during 2019).
- You can start using the points as soon as they are in your account. Even if you haven’t yet earned 110K yet this year, you can make bookings for the future and then add your companion later after you’ve earned the pass. Log in to your account at Southwest.com to see your companion pass meter — this will show your progress towards earning the 110K points necessary. Once you earn the pass, you can call in to name your companion and then add them to any of your existing reservations (provided there are any available seats on the flight).
- Count 24 months from the day you last earned a new cardmember bonus on a Southwest personal card to determine your eligibility. It doesn’t matter on what date you opened or closed the card, the date that matters is the date that you earned the new cardmember bonus. That would typically be the statement date for the statement on which you received the bonus.
- Yes, Chase typically matches the increased bonus if you have applied within the past ~90 days and you ask nicely. This is always YMMV as they are under no obligation to match a higher offer, but if you applied for the card recently (within the past 90 days) for a lesser offer, it’s always worth sending a secure message to Chase to ask if they would match you to this new higher offer. Chase is typically good at matching when the new offer is publicly available.
It’s nice to see 60K offers return on the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier, and Priority cards. It is still possible to earn a Southwest Companion pass via welcome offers, and these increased bonuses make that easier — though you’ll have to open one of these cards plus the business card in order to do so. The timing isn’t the best — I’d personally rather earn Southwest bonuses at the beginning of the year to position myself for a longer companion pass period — but if you can put the points to good use this year, maybe one of these offers makes sense for you.