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TPG reader Megan is going for the Southwest Companion Pass but wants to know if she can put her points to use before reaching the qualifying threshold of 110,000 points. Here’s the question she tweeted me.

“@thepointsguy: Southwest Companion Pass? I’m assuming I can’t use any points until I get the 110k? Then do I trade points for the pass?”

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best airline benefits out there! If you accrue 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying points in a calendar year, you get to take a companion travel with you on both paid and award tickets on Southwest and AirTran for the rest of that year and the following year – so if you earned it now, it would be good through the rest of 2014 and all of 2015.

The short answer to Amanda’s question is – you don’t have to wait. So use your points all you want!

Any points you earn during the calendar year count. Whether you use them on awards or not, it still counts toward your Companion Pass Qualifying balance – sort of like elite qualifying miles you earn flying in a year on other airlines still count towards your elite status even if you use the miles in your account to book an award trip.

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.

Like other airlines, with Southwest, there are two separate mileage trackers for your points. There are the regular points that you get to redeem for flights, and there are Companion Pass Qualifying points that are completely separate with a calendar-year tally that shows you how close you are. Once you hit 110,000 qualifying points, you automatically get the Companion Pass. You don’t need to redeem points to get the pass, so go ahead and redeem your Rapid Rewards points for travel. Just keep track of your overall points-earning so that you know to hit that 110,000 in a calendar year so you get the pass. Obviously earlier in the year that you qualify, the more value that you pass has because it will be valid for longer.

Remember, the Southwest credit cards bonuses and earning on spending do count towards the Companion Pass, so if you did happen to get one of those past 50,000-point offers (or even two of them), you should be well on your way on getting that pass. Unfortunately, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred into Southwest (which you can do if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus) do not count toward Companion Pass qualification.

Related Links:

Southwest Companion Pass FAQ and Maximization Strategies

Top 11 Ways to Top Off Your Southwest Companion Pass Account

Can I Get Two Southwest Cards In One Day To Qualify For A Companion Pass

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebooktweeting me or emailing me at

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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