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How California Residents Can Get a Companion Pass Now Through December 31, 2019

Oct. 20, 2017
5 min read
How California Residents Can Get a Companion Pass Now Through December 31, 2019
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

In case you missed it, all California residents can now register for perhaps the best deal of the year: a Southwest Companion Pass after just one purchase. It was originally a targeted offer, but now the airline has confirmed to The Points Guy that the offer is now open to all California residents.

You can click the link here to go directly to the offer page, but some California readers have reported seeing the offer right on the home page.

While this is a spectacular offer, some are wondering if it's a trap. The promotional Companion Pass is only good through December 31, 2018. But, if you earn the Companion Pass through the normal shortcut of signing up for two Southwest cards and earning the 110,000 required points in early 2018, you'd get the Companion Pass through December 31, 2019.

Here's the good news: These aren't mutually exclusive.

You can sign up through this offer now, earn the Companion Pass after the first purchase and still re-earn the Companion Pass through December 31, 2019. The Terms & Conditions of the promotional Companion Pass offer state this directly:

If Companion Pass is earned by flying 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 110,000 qualifying points in the calendar year while qualified for promotional Companion Pass through December 31, 2018, the regular Companion Pass qualifications will supersede the promotional Companion Pass, entitling the individual to Companion Pass through December 31, 2019.

Now that we know it's possible, here's how to do so:

  1. Sign up for the promo offer before November 30, 2017.
  2. Call and ask Chase to expedite your credit card.
  3. When you receive the card, make one small purchase on the card.
  4. Per the Terms & Conditions, "please allow up to eight weeks for Companion Pass to be fulfilled after making first purchase." Hopefully it won't actually take this long.
  5. Hold off on spending on the card until January 1, 2018.
  6. Once you hit January 1, make sure that you meet the $1,000 minimum spending requirement within the first three months after signing up for the card.
  7. By spending $1,000 in January, you'll earn 41,000 Companion Pass-eligible points for 2018 — or more if you spent that money on Southwest flight or partner purchases (2x points).
  8. Now you have approximately 11 months — while you have the Companion Pass in hand — to earn the other 69,000 points required to extend your Companion Pass through December 31, 2019.

How to Earn the Other Points

Southwest Business Card: The easiest way of earning 63,000 of these required points is by signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card while it's running its 60,000 point sign-up bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months. Just note that Chase has tightened up its requirements about what's a qualifying business. Unfortunately, not all start-up businesses will make the cut.

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Shopping Portals: Another way of earning Companion Pass eligible points is through the Southwest shopping portal. If you use Google Chrome, make sure to download the new Southwest shopping portal extension to be prompted to use the Southwest portal when you're online shopping at a portal partner.

Credit Card Spending: The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card don't provide the optimal return on spending. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents per point, and you're only going to earn 1x point from non-Southwest-related spending. You would get better return on spending from many other cards:

  • The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express: 3.8% return on everyday spending.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited Card: Up to 3.3% return when paired with a card that earns Ultimate Rewards (no annual fee).
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express: 2.7% return.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 2.2% return.

That said, spending on a Southwest credit card is one of the easiest ways to rack up Companion Pass-eligible points.

Flying: Then there's earning points the classic way: through actually flying! Note that you're going to have to pay for the flights — rather than using points — to earn points from flying. This can be tough when your pile of Southwest Rapid Rewards points is ever-growing from all of these accumulation methods.

Bottom Line

If you're hesitating about signing up for the current Southwest promotional Companion Pass offer as you're afraid that it'll keep you from earning the Companion Pass through the end of 2019, there's no need to worry. You can do both!

Even better, getting the promotional Companion Pass now relieves the stress to get all 110,000 required points in the first month or two of the year. As you'll be guaranteed the Companion Pass through December 31, 2018, you have all year to earn the required 110,000 points to re-qualify through December 31, 2019.

Are you going to sign up for the promotional Companion Pass?

Featured image by AFP/Getty Images