Which Southwest Companion Pass Offer Is Best?

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Update: These offers for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.


A bit over a week ago Chase and Southwest introduced some really valuable welcome bonuses on their co-branded cards.

The basics of Southwest Companion Pass

Before we talk about the actual bonuses, let me talk briefly about Southwest Companion Pass, which is one of the best deals in travel.

Companion Pass allows someone else to travel with you on Southwest for the entire year. This is valid both on revenue tickets and award tickets, and you just have to pay the taxes and fees for your companion.

This really is one of the best, (almost) no strings attached deals in travel, as you’re more or less getting a two-for-one deal on all your Southwest flights. The catch is that usually it takes a lot of travel or points accrual to earn Companion Pass, but not right now…

The new Companion Pass welcome bonuses

At the moment three Southwest credit cards are offering a promotional Companion Pass as part of the welcome bonus. These cards include the:

All three cards have identical bonuses, which include 30,000 Rapid Rewards points plus a promotional Companion Pass through December 31, 2019, when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months.

These bonuses are limited time, and are only valid through February 11, 2019.

If you travel domestically in any markets that Southwest operates in, this could be a really great offer to take advantage of.

Note that all of these welcome bonuses aren’t available to anyone who currently has a Southwest personal credit card, or anyone who has received a welcome bonus on a Southwest personal card in the past 24 months. This doesn’t include any of the Southwest business credit cards.

Deciding between the three cards

As you can see, all three cards have the same welcome bonuses, in spite of having annual fees that range from $69 to $149. So which of these cards should you be considering? Let’s look at the differences between the cards:

Southwest Plus Card

This $69 annual fee card has the following features:

  • Spending bonuses: 2x points on Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases
  • Cardmember anniversary bonus: 3,000 points (which I value at ~$39)
  • Foreign transaction fees: 3%

This is the lowest annual fee card that gets you the Companion Pass, so if your goal is to minimize your out of pocket on the annual fee, this is your best bet. However, a little more annual fee goes a long way, as I’ll cover below.

Southwest Premier Card

This $99 annual fee card has the following features:

  • Spending bonuses: 2x points on Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases
  • Cardmember anniversary bonus: 6,000 points (which I value at ~$78)
  • Foreign transaction fees: none

Beyond the first year I consider this to be a better option than the Plus Card. That’s because the card’s annual fee is $30 higher, but you get an additional 3,000 points on your anniversary, which I value at more than $30.

Southwest Priority Card

This $149 annual fee card has the following features:

  • Spending bonuses: 2x points on Southwest purchases, 1x points on all other purchases
  • Cardmember anniversary bonus: 7,500 points (which I value at ~$98)
  • Other perks: $75 Southwest annual travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year when available, 20% back on in-flight drink and wifi purchases
  • Foreign transaction fees: none

This is the new premium card that Southwest recently introduced, and I’d say this card is just about a no brainer over the other two. The card has a $149 annual fee, and the first year you already get a $75 Southwest travel credit, which can be applied towards any Southwest flight purchase (which presumably you’d make if you take advantage of this offer, since you want to use your Companion Pass).

To me that lowers the real out of pocket from $149 to $74, which is only $5 more than the Plus Card. For that you’re still getting four upgraded boardings per year (which is worth quite a bit), and in subsequent years you’re getting a huge 7,500 point anniversary bonus.

Among the Southwest Cards, this one is a no brainer, in my opinion.

Bottom line

The current welcome bonuses on Southwest Cards are really valuable, given that you can earn Companion Pass through the end of the year. We’ve just never seen them make it this easy to earn Companion Pass before.

You can’t go wrong with any of the three cards, though personally I think the Southwest Priority Card offers the best value of the three. The annual fee is $80 higher than on the Southwest Plus Card and $50 higher than on the Southwest Premier Card, but you’re earning a $75 annual travel credit (including the first year), four upgraded boardings per year, and a bigger anniversary bonus in subsequent years.

Which of the three Southwest Personal Cards do you think is most valuable?

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Comments

  1. Sort of related I don’t get why companion pass is so great. I tried it and it hardly had any value for me. Most times when I wanted to go somewhere I could find an equal or better value on another airline.For example SW was $400 for a round trip flight for one and I could take a $179 round trip each for two of us. The times available for any cheaper flights always seemed to be at 6 am or 10 pm as well. I only used it a couple times a year average and still have points. I can see value for someone who commutes to the same place a lot but not for me.

  2. Lucky I don’t want to be harsh but by ignoring the frequent miler doctor of credit debate on this subject there’s just a whole conversation in the miles and points space that you’re electing not to be a part of. I know your referral relationships may make that a business necessity but readers should at least know this is a more vibrant topic of debate than you are allowed to let on.

  3. None of them. I’m glad that I had already applied in Dec for the SW Priority and Business cards with the 60K point bonus each, so that we could have 2 years of CP – so 2019 and 2020. Then for 2021 and 2022, my partner does the 2 cards himself, rinse repeat …

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