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Why You Definitely Want The Southwest Companion Pass

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable airline benefits available. And you can earn it before even stepping foot inside one of Southwest’s planes.

Southwest is expanding rapidly and recently launched service to Hawaii and Cozumel, Mexico. Here’s what the Southwest Companion Pass is, why it is so valuable, and how you can earn it.

What Is The Southwest Companion Pass?

So what exactly is the Southwest Companion Pass and how do you qualify for it?

The Southwest Companion Pass is a benefit that allows your designated companion to fly for free with you anytime you fly on Southwest. There are two ways for you to qualify for it – by flying or by earning points.

Each of these methods must be completed within a calendar year to earn your pass.

  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights (or 50 round trips)
  • Earn 135,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points

Flying 100 one-way flights is pretty self-explanatory. However, earning 135,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points requires more details. Here are several options for earning qualifying points:

Dive Deeper: Learn more about Travel Rewards in our Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Travel Rewards.

How Many Points Do I Earn When Flying Southwest Airlines?

Travelers earn differing amounts of points depending upon which class of ticket they purchase. Southwest has 4 main fares: Business Select, Anytime, Wanna Get Away+, and Wanna Get Away.

Business Select benefits include guaranteed priority boarding (aside from irregular operation situations), Fly By priority security access, and a free premium drink coupon. This fare costs the most, but it offers more benefits and earns the highest number of points – at 12 points per dollar.

Anytime fares earn 10 points per dollar and include benefits like access to Priority and Express Lanes. You also get same-day change/same-day standby for free.

Wanna Get Away+ fares give you 8 points per dollar and land you some nice perks too. Benefits like flight credits for non-refundable fares (see terms for details), same-day change/same-day standby, and Transferable Flight Credits.

Wanna Get Away fares are the cheapest but offer the least amount of points and benefits. You’ll get 6 points per dollar plus two bags fly for free, two carryons, no change fees, your pick of seats, and free inflight entertainment of course.

Business SelectAnytimeWanna Get Away+Wanna Get Away
12 points per dollar10 points per dollar8 points per dollar6 points per dollar

A-List and A-List Preferred earn additional points when buying tickets. However, those additional points do not count toward qualifying for the Companion Pass.

Can You Earn The Companion Pass By Getting A New Credit Card?

There are many ways to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, and getting the right credit card accelerates your progress. Yes, card sign-up bonuses DO count toward the Companion Pass! Additionally, all of your spending on any of the Southwest credit cards also counts.

Savvy Southwest fans will want to apply for one personal and one business card in the same year so they can earn their Companion Pass with very little flying or spending.

Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer To Southwest?

Yes, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest. As long as you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can transfer.

Keep in mind that points earned from Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card, and Ink Business Cash Credit Card cannot be transferred to airline or hotel partners without having one of the Sapphire or Ink cards mentioned above.

Do Point Transfers Count Towards Earning The Companion Pass?

Unfortunately, transfers of points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and hotel partners no longer count towards qualifying for the companion pass.

However, those points can be used to redeem flights. And once you book your flight with those points, you can use the companion pass for your friend’s flight.

Can you buy the Southwest Companion Pass?

Unfortunately, no. The companion pass must be earned; it is not for sale. You’ll need to fly Southwest, get one of their credit cards, or spend with their partners to earn yours.

How Does The Southwest Companion Pass Work?

Once you’ve qualified for the companion pass, you’ll receive a message asking you to designate who your companion is. After selecting your companion, you can add them to any existing or future reservations.

How to Book A Companion Pass Flight

Not only is the Southwest Companion Pass the best domestic airline benefit, but it is also incredibly easy to use.

  1. First, book your flight using cash, Rapid Rewards points, or vouchers.
  2. Once your flight is confirmed, click on the “Add Companion” link in the “Upcoming Trips” section of your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account.
  3. Confirm your companion’s details, then pay the taxes and fees. For domestic flights, you’ll pay $5.60 per flight ($11.20 round-trip). Taxes on international flights can be more expensive.

Southwest Airlines Companion Pass add to reservation

Because your companion has to fly on the same flight as you, you do not need to pick a flight date or time when booking their ticket.

Is There A Limit To How Many Times You Can Use The Companion Pass?

No, there is no limit. The Companion Pass can be used an unlimited number of times each calendar year. Anytime you fly, your designated companion can fly with you for free.

As long as there is an open seat on the flight, simply book the companion ticket and pay the required taxes once you’ve booked your flight.

Can I Change Who My Companion Is?

Yes, you can change your companion up to three times per calendar year.

Your wife, husband, or partner might start out as your companion – but you can change it to a daughter, then to a son, and then back again.

How Do You Get The Most Out Of Your Companion Pass?

When you earn your Southwest Companion Pass, you have it for the remainder of the current year and all of the following year. If you earn it in November, you’ll have about 14 months to use it. However, earning it in January means that you have almost 24 months to fly your companion for free.

Before getting the companion pass, we suggest reviewing Southwest’s flight map to discover the possibilities for your trips. Then, make plans to hit as many of your desired destinations on their flight map as possible. Since most of Southwest’s network is in the U.S., plan a bunch of long weekend trips to explore America, Mexico, and the Caribbean using your new benefits.

Two-Player Mode

The Southwest Companion Pass is incredible when it is just you and another person flying together regularly. But what if you have a family?

If you’re an average family with a spouse and two kids, you can double up on the benefits by having BOTH spouses qualify for the companion pass. This way each parent can designate one kid as their companion to have them fly for free wherever the family travels.

When Is The Best Time To Apply For A Southwest Credit Card?

To maximize the cost-saving opportunities of the companion pass, you want to earn it as early in the year as possible.

If you hit credit card spending requirements quickly, then you should apply in January to ensure all of your points count towards qualification. However, some people apply for the credit card as early as November (if there is a great sign-up bonus available) and then don’t spend on the credit card until January.

As described above, hitting the minimum spend late in the year will minimize how long you have the companion pass benefits. Our advice is to apply early in the year to maximize your free flights.

The Bottom Line

In our opinion, the Southwest Companion Pass is the best domestic airline benefit available.

You can save tens of thousands of dollars on flights over the years. If you’re looking to fly within the continental U.S. or to more tropical destinations like Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean, then the Southwest Companion Pass can save you money as well.

Learn more about Travel Rewards in our Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Travel Rewards, where you’ll learn the simplest ways to efficiently earn and redeem your miles & points and, most importantly, you want to take 1-2 (nearly) free vacations each year!

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Why You Definitely Want The Southwest Companion Pass
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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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