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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card
TPG reader Mike tweeted me to ask:
@thepointsguy– “Is now the best time to get the Southwest credit card if I want the Companion Pass, or should I wait until 2015?”
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most amazing airline perks out there. It lets you bring a designated companion along on any Southwest flight so long as there’s a seat available, and you can use it whether you’re flying on an award or paid ticket. You can also change the companion up to three times each year. If you fly Southwest and want to bring a friend along, you can get massive savings.
The Companion Pass is earned when you accrue 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points within a calendar year. Once you earn it, you get the Companion Pass for the remainder of the current year, as well as the entire following year. That means if you earn the Companion Pass in January, it will be valid for almost two full years.
When deciding whether to get the Southwest credit card now or wait until 2015, consider the mininum spending requirement. You have to spend $2,000 in the first three months to get the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points that come with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card (or the business version), or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card (which also has a business version). You could get a combination of two of those cards if Chase deems you credit worthy, in which case you’d earn most of the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass.
The best strategy in my opinion is to get the card(s) now, but wait to meet the $2,000 spending requirement until January of 2015. The bonus points will then hit in early 2015 and and you’ll be able to earn the pass soon after, giving you Companion Pass status through the end of 2016.
If you get the cards now and don’t wait, then the bonus points will count for this year. Waiting until January will double the value for you, so in my opinion, that’s the best strategy.