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Quick Points: How to fly with a friend for almost free with the Southwest Companion Pass

July 22, 2022
4 min read
Photo of a Southwest Airlines plane taxiing on the ground
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Southwest Airlines remains a favorite for many flyers thanks to its generous ticket exchange policy, complimentary checked luggage and quirky boarding process. But for the most loyal Southwest travelers, the Companion Pass allows you to designate a friend to travel with you for free. Yes, it's buy one, get one free on all Southwest flights — whether you're paying cash or using Rapid Rewards points. You just have to pay the taxes on the ticket.

So what's the scoop on this unique status tier, and how do you earn it to bring a friend on your next trip for free?

Let's dive in.

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How do you earn the Companion Pass?

(Photo by Sean Cudahy/The Points Guy)

Southwest has three status tiers: A-List, A-List Preferred and Companion Pass. So as you might expect, the earning requirements are highest for Companion Pass. Like all Southwest status tiers, you must qualify annually to retain your status.

There are two ways that you can earn the Companion Pass:

  • 100 one-way qualifying flights on Southwest in a year.
  • 125,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points in a year.

Earning the Companion Pass through 100 one-way flights is relatively straightforward. You just have to have 100 flights on Southwest in a year. Yes, that's a lot of flying. For most travelers, the 125,000 qualifying points is an easier route to the Companion Pass. You can earn these points through Rapid Rewards activities including:

  • Flying on Southwest.
  • Doing business with travel partners like hotels and car rental agencies.
  • Dining through the Rapid Rewards Dining program.
  • Opening and/or using a Southwest credit card (like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card), including sign-up bonuses.

It's important to note that the latter three activities earn points toward the Companion Pass but not toward A-List or A-List Preferred status. Also, you shouldn't overlook that Southwest lets you use cobranded credit card welcome bonuses to earn points toward the Companion Pass. By opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card and earning the 80,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months, you will have earned at least 85,000 of the 125,000 qualifying points required for the Companion Pass.

Just note that transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest does not count toward Companion Pass qualification.

Related: The best Southwest Airlines credit cards in 2022

How does the Companion Pass work?

(Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Now, it's time for the fun part — bringing a friend along on your Southwest flights for (almost) free.

Within a couple of days of your Companion Pass qualification, you'll receive an email where you can nominate your companion. You can change your companion up to three times per calendar year, so choose the lucky individual wisely. Check out our four-step guide to using the Companion Pass.

As mentioned, you'll just need to pay the taxes for your companion to fly. On domestic flights, that's $5.60 one-way per person, while international flights can be more expensive.

Related: What is Southwest Airlines elite status worth in 2022?

Bottom line

The Southwest Companion Pass lets you bring along a friend at virtually no cost. While 100 one-way flights in a year is a steep requirement, earning 125,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points isn't too far out of reach when you find a generous cobranded credit card welcome bonus.

And who wouldn't want to bring a loved one to Hawaii, Aruba or Costa Rica — all destinations of Southwest Airlines.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases