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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
It’s a lot harder than it used to be to earn 110,000 points in order to get a Southwest Companion Pass. But TPG reader Daphne just discovered there’s a time deadline as well…
I was just approved for the Southwest Premier card but then read the fine print that I need to earn the 110,000 points for the Companion Pass within one calendar year! Is there any hope?TPG Reader Daphne
Let’s start with the bad news, Daphne. You’re correct that in order to get a Southwest Companion Pass, you have to earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and you have to do it within a single calendar year. Companion Pass points are calculated somewhat differently than regular Rapid Rewards points, but if you only have 109,999 qualifying points on December 31, then on January 1 you’ll end up back at zero qualifying points and with zero Companion Passes (though you’ll still have the same number of regular Rapid Rewards points).
Not so long ago, it was fairly easy to earn Companion Pass qualifying points because points transferred from hotel partners counted and you could get a Marriott Hotel + Air package in the process. But that option ended back in March, so now the only real ways to earn Companion Pass qualifying points are by actually flying on Southwest, earning via Southwest’s partners or spending money on any of Southwest’s credit cards, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.
But don’t fret, because it’s not all doom and gloom. Here’s the good news: The big stack of bonus points you earn when you sign up for the Southwest credit card and complete the required minimum spend do count toward the Companion Pass. So you’re already a good portion of the way there, and you could even sign up for a second Southwest credit card like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card or one of the Southwest Business credit cards to earn another chunk of points.
Of course, any money you spend on those cards will add more Companion Pass qualifying points to your account. But make sure those points post to Southwest before December 31 — credit card points are credited at the end of each billing statement, so any money you spend on the cards after your December statement closes will count for next year, not this year.
Finally, you can also pick up extra Companion Pass qualifying points by earning them via Southwest partners like the Rapid Rewards dining program or the Rapid Rewards shopping portal. Just remember that only base points count from these programs — bonus points aren’t Companion-Pass qualifying.
So now you’ve got some options, Daphne, and thanks for the question. If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Alexander/Getty Images.
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