PSA fellow Adventurers! RIGHT NOW you can get a Southwest Airlines Companion pass very easily, provided you meet the appropriate financial requirements and have means to show at least a small side business! This is probably, by orders of magnitude, the absolute best sign on bonus of any credit card around! I did this in 2020 and was able to take a massive amount of my trips utilizing this perk!
So, what is it, exactly? The companion pass offered by Southwest is pretty much the holy grail of domestic (and Caribbean and Latin American) travel! Once you have it, in essence every flight you book is a BoGo. BUT, you don’t even have to pay anything other than the $11.20 in fees and taxes! Couple it with the massive amount of sign up points you get, and you have a massive twofer perk that is good for the remainder of the year you earn it AND THE ENTIRE FOLLOWING YEAR. Because Southwest allows you to take your companion on a flight booked with points, this is an unparalleled perk! Other airlines that have a companion fare (usually only one fare per year) require a revenue (paid with dollars) flight to book the companion. In essence you and a companion can fly free (minus 11.20 per person round trip in 9/11 fees) for between 12 and 24 months to any destination Southwest services, until your points run up, and there are no blackout dates!
How to do it? First of all, an important note. If you are the type to spend and not pay your statement entirely on a monthly basis, this is probably not for you. Secondly, you will need to apply for two cards, a Chase southwest personal card and a business card:
There are a few variations of both cards. The ones I have shown are the lowest annual fee varieties. With the exception of a few perks, the other variations are pretty similar with slightly better perks that cost you about double on the annual fees. The other business card does, however, come with 80k bonus points but it’s not worth it to me. The credit card point requirement to get a companion pass is 135k points. It used to be 125 but they are actually giving their credit card holders an additional 10k companion pass points (cannot be used for flights) to make up the difference, but between these two cards, after meeting those spending bonuses you would have, at a minimum, 141,000 points! If you do not have any type of business income, I understand that people can still get it but I am cannot be sure of that. I would apply for the business card first in that event to see what shakes out!
Timing for hitting the bonus is extremely important. It is now November. You would not want to hit that sign up bonus until after your first statement in 2023. Most all of your earned points are Rapid Rewards points (good for booking flights) and ALSO companion earning points. However, the companion total resets every Jan. This means that while your RR points DO NOT expire for travel, they DO expire for use toward a companion pass every January 1st. If you hit your bonuses on your statement in December, you will still have a companion pass, but only for the few remaining days in December and all of next year, versus hitting it in January and having it for 23 months plus! Big difference!
Is it worth it – what do all those points really equate to in real life? For 160 dollars of annual fees, ABSOLUTELY. The valuation of Southwest Rapid Rewards Points is variable, unfortunately, which means that how much you get out of those 141,000 points depends on the fair type you select and which flight you actually pick. I cannot tell you exactly how many flights, or what their total cost would have been, in relation to the sign on bonuses I earned in 2020 as I continued using the cards for everyday spending and adding to my points every month. For the record the amount of points I redeemed for travel totalled just around 220K. Of that about 140k were the initial signup bonus, 18k were from the anniversary points for 2 anniversaries, and at least and here are the list of places that I went to entirely for free:
Virgin Islands National Park via San Juan, PR (one leg, upcoming)
Nashville (one leg)
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks via Salt Lake City (companion expired)
Maui and Haleakala National Park (companion expired)
Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, and Guadalupe National Parks via El Paso
Acadia National Park via Portland, ME (with companion)
Chicago (with Companion)
New River Gorge National Park via Cincinnati (with companion)
Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks via Bozeman, MT (with companion)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park via Cleveland (solo)
Petrified Forest and Saguaro National Parks via Pheonix (with companion)
Zion National Park via Las Vegas (with companion)
Shenandoah National Park via Baltimore (with companion)
Rocky Mountain National Park via Denver (with companion)
The long and short is that I spent only a few hundred bucks on all of those flights for me and the Sidekick. Points wise, I spent in the neighborhood of 220,000. 140,000 or so came from the sign up bonus, another 20,000 or so came from anniversary points, and a large chunk also came from multiplier offers they frequently advertise. And, just an fyi…you can get these bonuses again, as long as it’s been 24 months since the last time you got it! Sooooo…. I recently canceled my personal card and will be reapplying soon! My credit is great and I meet all requirements. Assuming I am approved again, I will shortly thereafter my canceling the business card and redoing that one as well! If all goes well, I will have another great Southwest Airlines travel spree awaiting me!