Edit 2: As of July 15, the 60k links are completely gone for the Premier, and are only available for the SW Plus and for the SW Business Premier. Unless you have a dire need for Fall 2017 flights together with your companion, I would wait until early 2018 and then get both SW cards then so that you can get a 2018/2019 companion pass.
EDIT: As of May 31, 2017 Southwest INCREASED the sign-up bonus on all of their cards to 60k points after 2k spend. I highly recommend getting this now while you can. These current bonuses make getting the companion pass easier than EVER. You could wait until early 2018 to get it (so it lasts 2018/2019), but just know this bonus will likely only last until the end of June – meaning that in January the cards could be 50k each or even 40k each. Something to think about! ALSO, if you applied within the last 3 months for a 50k or 40k offer, SEND A MESSAGE TO CHASE ONLINE. I have seen 100% success rate so far today for them matching the 60k offer. Just say, “I saw the new 60k offer, is there any way that I could be matched to that instead of the 50k one I applied for?”
The Southwest Companion Pass – The Holy Grail of Credit Card Points
The Southwest Companion Pass is single-handedly the coolest and most lucrative benefit for a young couple wanting to get into the credit card points game. Over the past year it has given Mary and I over $3600 in value – including flights to San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, New York, Panama City Beach, etc. – which is why we recommend it so highly!
What is the Companion Pass?
Here are the basics: The Southwest Companion Pass is a “pass” or benefit that Southwest gives to members that allows you to bring a designated companion, typically a spouse or friend, on any SW flight for free (you only pay government taxes or airport fees). The benefit is valid during the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn it and all of the following year (i.e. earn in April 2017 and it lasts until Dec 31, 2018). This is NOT a single-use benefit, but a benefit that can be used as many times as you want during that time-frame. Whether the flight is paid for with points or with cash, or even if someone else pays for it for you, you can add your “companion” to your reservation.
So how can you earn it? Southwest awards the Companion Pass to any person who earns 110,000 points or takes 100 one-way flights in a calendar year. Sounds pretty impossible for the average college-aged person or couple who can barely afford a single flight, right? WRONG! The caveat to this is what type of points count for the companion pass. These are the ONLY points that count towards companion pass:
- Points earned from flights
- Points earned from the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
- Points earned from the credit card
How can I earn this with credit cards?
Now since this is a blog about credit cards I assume you know where I’m going next – the bonuses on these Southwest credit cards qualify for the companion pass. Isn’t that so cool? By getting two credit cards, you can get the companion pass, get at least $4000 worth of value and have a benefit that allows someone else to fly for free with you as much as you want. What?! The only thing to remember is that ONE person needs to earn 110k points by getting BOTH the cards – points don’t combine between different people’s Southwest accounts, so you can’t have each spouse get 1 card since then you would have 60k points in two separate Southwest accounts. ONE person needs to get BOTH cards so that he/she has the full 110k points in his or her Southwest account.
The cards that you can choose from are the 1) Southwest Plus, 2) Southwest Premier, or 3) Southwest Business Premier. I think the two easiest ones are Southwest Plus and Southwest Premier, so I’ll cover those in-depth here. As of May 31, 2017, all three have bonuses of 60k Southwest points, which is incredible.
The Southwest Plus offers 60k SW points after $2000 in credit card spend (as of May 31, 2017) and charges a $69 annual fee that is not waived in Year 1. Since you earn 1 point per dollar spent on every purchase (or 2 on SW flights) and you need to spend $2k, your all-in SW point total after this card will be ~62k SW points. Apply here on the Chase website (our referral link is only for 50k points, so we won’t list it here).
The Southwest Plus has bumped back down to 40k. Will update with a new, higher link when it comes back.
The Southwest Premier offers 60k SW points after $2000 in credit card spend (as of May 31, 2017) and charges a $99 annual fee that is not waived in Year 1. This card also offers 1 point per dollar, so your total bonus would be 62k after you hit your minimum spend. So, getting two Southwest cards puts you at 124k – WAY more than the necessary amount for the companion pass. Apply here on the Chase website.
The Southwest Premier offer has bumped back down to 40k. Will update with a new, higher link when it comes back.
The Southwest Premier Business offers 60k SW points after $3,000 in credit card spend, and charges a $99 annual fee that is not waived in Year 1. I wouldn’t do this one because 1) Business cards are harder to get approved for and the Chase Ink Preferred is a better business card, and 2) It has a higher spending requirement. Just get the personal ones!!
Annual fees scare people, and that’s a good thing normally. However, let’s do some quick math to show that in this situation you are getting a Donald Trump-esque HUGE return on your money.
- Pay $168 ($99 + $69) in annual fees for the first year (can cancel after the first year if you want).
- Get $4000 worth of travel on Southwest. 124k points with a valuation of 1.6-1.8 cents per point = ~$2000. That amount x2 with companion pass = $4000.
Any time you tell me to pay $168 and get $4000 in return, I’ll happily take that deal! The other awesome thing is that, even after using all of your points, you still can use the Companion Pass on any paid flight. So $4000 is really just a minimum – the sky is the limit (bad dad-joke alert!)
The best part of the current situation (the 60k bonuses) is that you no longer need to spend additional money to get it. Since the bonuses used to be 50k points after 2k spend, people would end up with 104k Southwest points and have to spend $6k more in order to hit 110k – no longer! This is an absolute miracle and SUCH a good deal from Chase. I’m seriously so shocked they have done this.
What if I don’t spend $2000 in 3 months?
Guess what…neither do we! But we posted YESTERDAY about two bank accounts that can be funded with $2000 each using a credit card, and Chase Southwest credit cards are working right now (see here and here for evidence). Additionally, these bank accounts even have a $200 bonus, so that will cover all of your Southwest credit card annual fees too. See our full post about these awesome bank accounts here, but basically you can open a checking/savings combo at BMO Harris bank, fund each with $1000 from a credit card, and then transfer the money out a few days later to pay off your credit card bill (since it was a purchase). So, open up his-and-her bank accounts at BMO Harris to be able to fund $4000 total (i.e. THE ENTIRE MINIMUM SPEND FOR THE COMPANION PASS!!). Literally…so easy. You need to do this.
For the love of all that is holy…please listen to me and get this right now. You will NOT regret it. For an idea of all possible destinations you could use SW to get to, look up their route map here. In addition to basically every major U.S. city, some of the cool international options are Belize, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and more. Let us know how you use it and where you go, and we would be happy to feature you on the blog!