Earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2023 by Timing Credit Card Spending

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FILE - In this March 23, 2019, file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft lands at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the high desert town of Victorville, Calif.  The union president of Southwest Airlines pilots worries that Boeing may be rushing the 737 Max back into service, and he says Southwest should consider buying planes from another company.  The union president, Jon Weaks, adds that Boeing has exhibited arrogance and greed that will haunt the company forever.   (AP Photo/Matt Hartman, File)

The Southwest Companion pass can effectively double the value of your Southwest points.

Associated Press



If you like flying Southwest, or if you’re simply a fan of excellent travel deals, you’ve probably heard of the Southwest Companion Pass. With it, you can bring a travel buddy with you on any paid or award flight for only the cost of taxes and fees.

You can earn it one of two ways:

But here’s a nice little trick: The points you’ll earn from Southwest credit card bonuses and spending count toward earning the Companion Pass — so opening a card and earning the bonus is an easy way to achieve a big part of the requirement.

This makes the welcome offers on the Southwest credit cards notably compelling:

And now is literally the best time to open a Southwest credit card if you’re focused on earning a Companion Pass. Here’s why.

Find the right Southwest credit card for you

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50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months

Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on rideshare. Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.

60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Earn 3X points on Southwest Airlines® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Open a new Chase Southwest card to earn the Companion Pass

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.


Rewards

Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2 points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.


Intro offer

50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months


Recommended Credit

Good to Excellent


Regular Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

19.74% – 26.74% Variable

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It’s worth the extra effort to earn the Companion Pass early in the year. That’s because the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn it as well as the entire following year. For example, if you earn the Companion Pass in early 2023,  it will be valid through December 31, 2024 (nearly two years).

You can earn most of the points required for a Companion Pass by opening one of the three personal Southwest credit cards. While all three personal Southwest cards have the same welcome bonus offer, their main differences remain between their annual fees and account anniversary bonuses.

In general, the best Southwest card for you depends on how often you plan to fly on Southwest Airlines. If you fly often, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes loaded with benefits like a yearly $75 travel credit on Southwest and priority boarding when available. If you’re a light or casual flyer, you’ll do fine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card instead.

How to earn the remaining points you need for the Companion Pass

Beginning January 1, 2023, Southwest credit cards will offer an annual 10,000-mile bost towards earning the Companion Pass. These points are not redeemable — they effectively just lower the points requirement you must earn for a Companion Pass by 10,000 (from 135,000 points to 125,000 points).

If you open a Southwest personal card, you’ll have at least 51,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements. With the 10,000-point boost, you’ll be 74,000 points short of earning a Companion Pass. To earn the remaining points, there are a few strategies:

  • Use the Southwest card for your everyday spending and all other bills and expenses — and boost your earning even more by making online purchases through the Southwest shopping portal.
  • Fly Southwest, where you’ll earn between 6 and 12 points per dollar, depending on the fare type.
  • Open a Southwest small-business credit card and earn its bonus in addition to a personal credit card bonus.

The path of least resistance is through opening a Southwest small-business card. By earning a personal and small business card bonus, you’ll have enough points (or nearly enough points) to qualify for the Companion Pass. Here are the current offers on Southwest business cards:

You can qualify for business credit cards even if you’re a freelancer or run a small operation (think Uber or DoorDash driver). As long as you’re running some sort of business, you have a chance of being approved.

The year in which your qualifying Southwest Companion Pass points post to your account is the year for which they will count towards the Companion Pass. For example, if you open the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card in December 2022 and meet the spending requirement in January 2023, your points will post in 2023 — and therefore count toward a 2023 Companion Pass.

If you open a Southwest card in 2022, be sure to leave a few dollars (or more) of the spending requirement for 2023. It’s the surefire way to make sure the bonus points post in 2023.

What is the Companion Pass worth?

Southwest is largely a domestic airline, but it serves many fun destinations like Mexico, Aruba, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Costa Rica, etc. The value you’ll get from the Southwest Companion Pass depends entirely on how often you and your travel companion fly Southwest. You could easily save many thousands of dollars with this perk.

In general, Southwest points are worth roughly 1.4 cents each toward flights, based on Insider’s current points and miles valuations. But the Companion Pass can effectively double the value of your points.

Once you’ve successfully earned the 125,000 points necessary to qualify for the Companion Pass (again, the qualification in 2023 will be 135,000 points, but Southwest cardholders will get a 10,000-mile boost), you’ll have enough points for at least $1,750 in Southwest flights (125,000 points x 1.4 cents each). The Companion Pass allows you to bring along another person for just the cost of taxes and fees, meaning you could potentially get $3,500 in flights ($1,750 x 2) from this bonus.

Bottom line

All of the Southwest credit cards give you the opportunity to earn points that can help you achieve the Southwest Companion Pass. By earning it as early in the year as possible, you can maximize the amount of time you can use it.

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