Do Southwest Cards Qualify For A Companion Pass?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TPG reader Kristen asks:
"I've had the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card for several years now and am looking to open up some new credit cards. I've read about the Southwest Companion Pass and think it would be great for my family since we frequently fly Southwest Airlines. Do bonus points for a new Southwest credit card count toward reaching the 110,000-point qualifying mark for the Companion Pass?"
Good news! Although there is some text that says promotions and credit card sign up bonuses won’t count towards the Companion Pass qualification, that is absolutely not true and I know hundreds of TPG readers have gotten the pass with sign up offer points.
Chase has been offering 50,000 points on the Southwest Visa personal and business products for a couple weeks now but the offers will end August 6, 2013. To get the 50,000 points you need to spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account and there is a $99 fee on the Premier card and $69 fee on the Plus card. The Premier comes with 6,000 points every anniversary (~$108 in Wanna Get Away Fares) and the Plus gets 3,000 ($54).
I think the best route for you to take is to open up a personal card if you are eligible to do so. The key here is that you cannot get the same card that you already have. If you've had the personal Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card for years, you can not apply for that card and get the bonus again but you can get the bonuses the for personal Southwest Premier card as well as the business versions of the Southwest Plus and Premier cards. Chase allows you to get the sign-up bonus on each of their individual products, but they set a credit limit for you as a consumer so if you’ve reached that limit you may have to do some trading of other accounts to open up the new credit line.
The Companion Pass is incredible because once you hit the 110,000 points (or fly 100 one-way flights within a calendar year) you can designate a companion that flies for free (just pay 9/11 taxes) on any flight that you are on – even if you use points for your ticket. This benefit can save you serious amount of money and the best part is that there is no award “availability” on Southwest – if there’s a ticket for sale in the same ticket fare that you purchase/used points for, then your companion can fly as well for free.
Once you hit the spend requirement of $2,000 in 3 months on each card, you'll receive the points and automatically earn the Companion Pass. In general if you get the Companion Pass now you're not technically maximizing it, but you'll still have it for a year and a half which can save you a ton of money. One sign-up bonus alone is worth about $900 in Wanna Get Away fares, pair that with the Companion Pass and you're talking about $1,800 worth of travel for one measly credit card sign ups - a pretty good deal in my book.
For more details on why the Southwest Rapid Rewards program has so many benefits, check this recent Top 10 post. If you have any questions feel free to comment below or tweet me @thepointsguy!