What Happens to My Southwest Companion Pass Points?
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We've upgraded our "Sunday Reader Question" series! Our new "Reader Questions" will be answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
Today's Reader Question comes from Richard, who sent a Facebook message to ask...
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Richard"]"If I get a Companion Pass with Southwest, would I need to keep a balance of 110,000 points in my Southwest account in order to keep my Companion Pass or could I spend the points?"[/pullquote]
The Southwest Companion Pass is an extremely popular travel perk, allowing you to bring along a selected companion for nearly free on almost any Southwest ticket, including award flights. Your only cost for the second person are the taxes on the ticket, which generally amount to less than $6 each way.
Getting a Southwest Companion Pass is all the rage at the moment, since Southwest decided to give folks a brief extension on the ability to earn a pass via point transfers from hotel programs (and kudos to Southwest for reversing course on its original decision).
But what happens after you transfer the points? Does Southwest take them? Do you get to keep them? Can you spend them? Is it okay to throw a Rapid Rewards points party?
As with many aspects of Southwest, the answer is decidedly consumer-friendly. The Companion Pass does not cost 110,000 points, but rather it's attainable when 110,000 points have been earned within a calendar year. So yes, you do get to keep the points while still being awarded a Companion Pass.
It also follows that once earned, the Companion Pass is yours to keep until it expires, regardless of the number of points you maintain afterwards in your Rapid Rewards account. There's no minimum number of points required to hang onto your pass, so yes, you are free to spend the points as you wish.
Remember that if you want to get a Companion Pass with transfers from Marriott, Starwood (via Marriott), Hyatt, Best Western or other hotel programs, you'll need to make sure the points arrive by March 31, 2017. After that, hotel point transfers will no longer count toward qualification.
Direct transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards have never counted toward the Companion Pass, so after the deadline, you'll only be able to earn Companion Pass-qualifying points via Southwest flights, partners such as Rapid Rewards dining and credit card spend on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or one of the two Southwest business credit cards.
Don't forget that it's also possible to earn the Companion Pass with 100 flight segments instead of points, so if you've got a ton of short flights, you might consider focusing them on Southwest if the airline can get you where you need to go.
Enjoy spending your points, Richard, and thanks for the question! As a reminder, we're now answering questions three times a week here at The Points Guy, so please tweet questions to us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.