This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TPG reader Christina emailed me to ask:
“My 50,000 point sign-up bonus for my Chase Rapid Rewards card posted on January 2, 2014. I will hit 110,000 points before Dec 31, 2014, but January 2, 2015 is my statement closing date. Will I earn the companion pass for 2015 and 2016 since my statement closing date is in January of 2015?”
The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card can be a great value, not only because of the 50,000 point sign-up bonus (after you spend $2,000 in the first three months), but also because every point you earn counts toward qualifying for the Southwest Companion Pass. You need 110,000 points total for Companion Pass status, so the sign-up bonus gets you almost halfway there!
However, you need to earn those 110,000 points within one calendar year. So unfortunately, Christina, you aren’t going to qualify for a pass at all. If the last points you need won’t post until January, then you’re not going to hit the 110,000 mark in 2014; that is, you won’t have reached 110,000 within a single calendar year. Instead, you’ll start off with a lot of points to help you qualify in 2015.
To really maximize the Companion Pass, it’s best to try and earn it at the beginning of a calendar year, not at the end. The Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn it, plus the entire next year. If you earn the pass now, you’ll have it for just the last week or so of 2014 plus all of 2015. If you earn it next month, you’ll get it for almost all of 2015 and all of 2016. That’s the best way to qualify.
One thing you can do is call Chase and see if you can have your statement close before December 31, 2014 (the sooner the better) so the points hopefully reach your account and are dated for this year. Otherwise, you’re going half and half and splitting your points between 2014 and 2015, which isn’t the easiest way to reach the Companion Pass.
Another option is to let the points post in 2015 and then get another Southwest credit card with one of the 50,000 point sign-up bonuses (which come around every few months). That would get you most of the way to the 110,000 mark, in which case you’ll get the pass for the remainder of 2015 and all of 2016. If that doesn’t seem feasible, I would at least try to get the 110,000 to post in 2014 so you will have the Companion Pass for all of 2015. A one year pass is better than no pass at all.
For more info, check out Southwest Companion Pass: 16 Things Every Flyer Should Know.