Don’t Forget: Shortcut To Earning The Southwest Companion Pass Ends Today

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

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card are offering bonuses of up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points upon completing minimum spend, and those increased offers will apparently end on October 4, 2017. There had been speculation that these offers might be ending October 1st, but here we are on the 3rd and they’re still up, so it looks like tomorrow is the day.

These are great offers for those who want to earn Southwest points, but the key benefit is the leverage towards earning the Southwest Companion Pass.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

Basically, if you rack up 110,000 points in a year you’ll earn Companion Pass with Southwest, which allows someone else to travel with you for the entire year.

You still have to pay the taxes on their ticket, but the companion pass is valid on both award and revenue tickets.

That means if you’ve accumulated 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, you have over $1,650 worth of “Wanna Get Away” fares at your disposal. Factoring in the Companion Pass, you’re looking at over $3,300 worth of airfare.

You can change your designated companion three times in a year, so this is a no-brainer for travel within North America. Keep in mind that you’re not trading 110,000 points for the Companion Pass. You earn the 110k points (which you then get to spend on award flights) and you get to bring someone along for just the taxes and fees. Even on award tickets.

I had the Companion Pass a few years ago, at a time when we were doing more domestic travel than we do currently, and it saved us a tremendous amount of money. It’s a ridiculous deal.

There are other ways to earn the Companion Pass, of course, but since either of these cards will put you more than halfway there, it’s an option worth considering.

When you earn the points matters

As mentioned above, you need to earn 110,000 points for the Southwest Companion Pass. And you need to earn all of those points in a single calendar year. Not a rolling 12-month period, just January 1st – December 31st.

Southwest, like all airlines, awards Rapid Rewards points after your flight. So if you buy tickets today for travel next February, the points will be credited to your account in February, and would count towards your 2018 Companion Pass qualification.

Similarly, if you’re earning points through hotel or rental car partners, or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you make your reservation, or your purchase. What matters is when the points post to your Rapid Rewards account.

Once you earn those 110,000 points, you’ll automatically receive your Companion Pass.

Your billing date matters too

If you’re using the Southwest credit cards, the points will post to your account shortly after your statement closing date. In theory it can be a few weeks, but in my experience it happens pretty quickly. The timing of your billing cycle can also vary quite a bit — I’ve received cards where the first statement closed a week after receiving the card, where other cards the first statement period was five weeks.

For the Companion Pass, you want to make sure that all the points you’re earning from your credit card spend post in the right period. If you were to pick up the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card today, for example, you’d have three months to meet the minimum spend to earn the bonus points.

That puts you at roughly January 3rd (though check with Chase for your exact date), which works out nicely for those trying to earn the Companion Pass.

The caveat, however, is that you need to pay attention to when your statement closes.

If, for example, your statement closes on December 15th, only points that you’d earned prior to the 15th would be posted to your Southwest account in December. Points earned the 15th through January 3rd would not post until your January closing date, and would then count towards the 2018 Companion Pass.

So if you want the points to post in 2017, you’d want to complete all of your spend before your December statement closing date. If you instead want the points to post in 2018, you would want to wait to do any spend until after your December statement has closed. Personally, because again I’m cautious with these things, I would make sure to not finish my minimum spend until January, just to be on the safe side.

Check out this post, and the comments, for more insight as to whether it’s better for the points to post in 2017 or 2018.

Increased Southwest Card welcome bonus details

The basic details of these increased offers are as follows:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months
  • $99 annual fee
  • Receive 6,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary every year

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months
  • $69 annual fee
  • Receive 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary every year

Who is eligible for these increased Southwest offers?

You can potentially pick up both of these cards (and you’d earn Companion Pass after completing minimum spend, which is awesome), though the bonuses aren’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.

Furthermore, do note that these cards are subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you generally wouldn’t be eligible for these cards if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months.

If you’re looking for Chase cards that aren’t subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, consider products like IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card or British Airways Visa Signature® Card. These cards are still extremely rewarding, and you can be approved even if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months. The values are just a bit different.

Bottom line

If you have plans for travel in North America, the Southwest Companion Pass is an incredibly good deal. The increased bonuses on the Southwest Credit Cards make earning those 110k points downright easy, so if you consistently travel in North American with another person, there is just tremendous value here.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t travel in North America frequently, or always travel solo, that you won’t really get the same benefits from the Companion Pass. In that case these offers are still good in terms of the points earned, but you’re probably going to be better off saving your application for a card that is more relevant to your personal travel situation.

Are you taking advantage of these offers as a shortcut to the Southwest Companion Pass?

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  1. There is a whole host of errors here starting with the headline.
    First, the “shortcut” is not disappearing – people will still be able to earn points towards CP by applying for Chase cards. There has been no indication from Chase that the signup bonus will not count towards CP in the future. However shortcut might take a little longer if the signup bonus drops to 50k or even 40k per card. Nobody including OMAAT know what the new bonus will be.
    Second, the reduction in the signup bonus is a matter of pure speculation and is based on a conversation that a reputable blogger purportedly had with someone knowledgeable at Chase. It has not been officially confirmed publicly by anyone at Chase.
    I appreciate your efforts to keep your readership informed but you would do better to label facts, rumors and speculation appropriately,

  2. @ Boraxo — I see where you’re coming from, and appreciate the feedback. I do think this is quite a shortcut, given that typically we’ve seen these bonuses at 50k each, meaning even if you were approved for multiple cards you’d still have to come up with the extra 10k points. This is an unusually good offer because of that.

    And the signup bonus being reduced is not speculation, it’s only been the timing that was previously unconfirmed.

  3. My question is if we transfer 110,000 points to our Southwest account, and keep it in the account without using the points; would the Companion pass be renewed every year?

  4. @ Ben — No, it’s 100% based on points accruing in a given year. And direct transfers from Ultimate Rewards don’t count, only purchases and transfers from other partners.

  5. @ Boraxo I was flying SW from LAX to BNA last week and saw “60k bonus ends October 4th” scrolling through the “advertisements” at the gate. I’d say 99% chance it ends tomorrow.

    And @Tiffany THANK YOU for writing this up a couple weeks ago… I had gotten a CP for 2017 and 2018 over the summer, but thanks to you my wife now will get it for 2018 and 2019! I’d say we’ll get over $8,000 worth of free flights out of them!!! 🙂

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