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The Southwest Companion Pass has been front & center in rewards travel press lately. One of the best perks in the points & miles world, earn a companion pass and you and a travel buddy can fly two for the price of one on any Southwest flight paying cash or points.
And, even better, if you get the companion pass early in the year. You can use it for the rest of that year, plus the entire next year. Giving you 2-for-1 flights for the better part of two years!
The great news is, you can now get the Southwest Companion Pass for as little as $5,000 in credit card spend! Applying for just two limited-time credit card offers on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.
Southwest Airlines 737
photo credit: airlines470 N401WN LAX via photopin (license)
The End of the Companion Pass via Partner Transfers
One of the major sweet spots to emerge from the Marriott/Starwood merger was a shortcut for SPG members to attain the companion pass for 90K Starpoints.
Transferring 90K Starpoints to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio gives members 270K Marriott Rewards points. Enough for Marriott’s Hotel + Air Package #3. The holiday package provides 7 nights accommodation in a Category 1-5 Marriott property + 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Hello Southwest Companion Pass!
Whether the merger was the catalyst for Southwest closing this loophole, we don’t know. But it didn’t take long for a statement to emerge announcing changes to companion pass terms and conditions. The new policy no longer allows for transfers from hotel and car rental rewards programs, plus a host of bank and online rewards. Effectively shutting down one of the easiest routes to gaining the companion pass.
While Southwest has offered a reprieve, extending the cut-off date for transfers to March 31, 2017. It’s left a lot of Rapid Rewards members questioning what’s the new fastest route to the companion pass for 2017.
The Fastest Way to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass in 2017
There’s good news for anyone wanting to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2017/18. Southwest may have closed the transfer loophole, but they’ve also opened up a shortcut via two of their co-branded credit cards!
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card – Limited time signup bonus of 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. (Read our in-depth review)
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card – Limited time signup bonus of 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
$5,000 minimum spend = 110,000 Rapid Rewards points = Southwest Companion Pass!
And, just in case you’re unsure the signup bonuses are a valid path to the companion pass, the T&C’s have it in black and white:
Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.
What this means is signing up for just two credit cards, and meeting the minimum spend requirements of only $5,000, can automatically earn you one of the most coveted perks in rewards travel. The low minimum spending requirements on these two cards make this the fastest and most affordable path to earning a companion pass in 2017.
Are the Southwest Cards Subject to the 5/24 Rule?
Yes, the Southwest Plus Card and the Southwest Premier Business Card both fall under Chase’s requirements for new credit card applications. For those not yet up to date with the 5/24 rule. It is highly likely you will not be approved for new credit card applications with Chase if you have added 5 or more credit cards to your credit report within the last 24 months.
While this can feel restrictive for frequent flyers that like to accumulate points and miles across multiple programs, for the majority of travelers who focus on just one or two rewards programs, it doesn’t present a major inconvenience.
An excellent strategy to employ if you plan on accumulating more than 5 cards over the next 24 months? Focus on acquiring Chase cards like the Southwest Plus Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card before extending your search out to other credit card providers.
Why the Southwest Cards over More Flexible Points Earning Cards?
Why would you get the two Southwest cards instead of a card that earns flexible rewards points such as Ultimate Rewards (which transfer to Rapid Rewards at 1:1)?
Cards like the Sapphire Preferred are arguably better travel rewards cards for travelers that fly a variety of airlines. But as a means of attaining the Southwest Companion Pass, the Southwest cards win hands down. Ultimate Rewards points do transfer to Rapid Rewards at 1:1, however, they don’t count towards a companion pass under Southwest’s transfer policy.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable perks in rewards travel. And for a limited-time, you can get it for the better part of two years by acquiring the Southwest Plus Card, and the Southwest Premier Business Card, and meeting a minimum spend of $5K.
The window for getting a companion pass via points transfers from partners is closing on March 31, 2017. And there is no saying how long these limited-time credit card offers will stick around. If you’ve been looking for a method of attaining a companion pass and qualify for these cards, now is a fantastic time to pull the trigger.