Reminder: Apply For Southwest Visa 50,000-Point Offer By October 30
Last month, Chase relaunched Southwest Visa 50,000 point offers on all four of its Southwest cards now through Wednesday, October 30, so if you haven't applied yet, now is the time to do so because by maximizing your spending strategy, these bonuses could help you earn a lucrative Southwest Companion Pass that would be good for both 2014-2015.
The 50,000-point offer is available on both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Visa and on the personal and business versions of each. When you click to this landing page, you'll see the offer for the Premier, but you can click on the Premium business card or the Plus card at the bottom and you'll be redirected to the application page for that card (the business Plus card is at the bottom of the second landing page).
To get the 50,000 points on either, you need to spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. The difference between the two cards is that 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 in Wanna Get Away fares).
Chase periodically runs this bonus, but you never know if it will come back again. Amex used to always run transfer bonuses to Delta, but then stopped on day and we haven’t seen one in almost 18 months. My guess is that these offers will come back again, but possibly not until 2014.
I’ve written many times about this offer - basically it is marketed as 2 roundtrip flights, but you are actually getting 50,000 Rapid Rewards points. Southwest points cannot be transferred to other frequent flyer or hotel programs and the only partner airline you can redeem on is Airtran, which was acquired by Southwest in 2010.
In terms of redeeming for award seats, with Wanna Get Away fares, 60 points = $1 (until the devaluation March 31, 2014 after which you'll need 70 points per $1), so that means you can get up to almost $900 in fares (I recently redeemed Southwest points and got 1.8 cents per point when redeeming for Wanna Get Away fares).
Chase will allow you to get the sign-up bonus for each card and it is possible to get two in one day so you can bank up to 100,000 points. Where this gets really interesting, though, is that these bonus points count towards Southwest's Companion Pass qualification, which is one of the best frequent flyer program benefits out there.
There are two ways to qualify for a Companion Pass. Either fly 100 one-way flights within a calendar year or accrue 110,000 points in a calendar year (every January your qualifying points reset to 0) – this includes flights, credit card – including credit card sign-up bonuses and partner activity like hotel stays/transfers and rental cars.
So with the $2,000 in minimum spend on two cards plus the 50,000 point bonuses, you’re looking at 104,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and you only need 110,000 to get the pass. Why do this now?
Companion Pass Qualification Strategy
Well, you have 90 days to hit that minimum spend, and if you get a card (or two) now and time your spending so that you get the bonus just after January 1, 2014, your points will count towards 2014 Companion Pass qualification. So if you were to get two cards at once and do a little extra spending on them right at the beginning of the year, your Companion Pass would be good not only through the rest of 2014, but through 2015 as well! That's two years of two people flying for the price of one.
What is a Companion Pass worth? The value of your pass is equal to the value of the dollars and points that you would spend on Southwest flights during the valid period of your pass. So if you are only planning a couple trips in the next few years, your value will be limited. However, if you and your companion travel extensively, or if you tend to commute between cities a lot, your pass could be worth thousands of dollars.
To put it in perspective, it would take $18,333 worth of flights in the “Wanna Get Away” fare class to earn the 110,000 points necessary for the Companion Pass just by flying. If you were to pay for those tickets with cash, it would cost an additional $18,333 to add a companion (or more if there is not always another seat available at the same fare class). Therefore, the traveler would save at least $18,333 by starting off with a Companion Pass beforehand.
To look at it another way, if you were to earn the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass, and just use all of those points to fly with a companion on Wanna Get Away fares – where your points are worth about 1.8 cents each – then the pass would be worth about $1,800 in free travel. Either way, you're looking at some great values.
Even if you don’t want the companion pass, 50,000 Rapid Rewards points are worth almost $900 in Wanna Get Away fares, so it is one of the most solid credit card offers on the market if you fly Southwest. Check out these posts for more information on maximizing the offer:
Maximize Monday: Southwest Companion Pass FAQ And Strategies
Top 11 Ways To Top Up Your Account For The Southwest Companion Pass
Can I Get Two Southwest Cards In One Day To Qualify For A Companion Pass?
How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest Points vs. Southwest Credits: When Transferring Makes Sense and How to Check Availability
Maximizing the Southwest Companion Pass with AirTran Flights