TPG credit card reader question: When does Southwest Air calculate companion pass points?

Jan 18, 2021

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This is the time of year when a lot of people start implementing plans for earning elite status with their favorite airlines and hotel brands. One of the most valuable elite status tiers is the Companion Pass from Southwest.

The Southwest points from my first statement hit my account one day after statement closing. Does Southwest calculate Companion Pass points by the date they hit my Southwest account or the actual date of charge?

I appreciate any feedback.

TPG Reader Kyle H.

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An overview of the Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most coveted benefits available, and it can save Southwest frequent flyers thousands of dollars each year in flight costs. Essentially, it lets you bring a designated friend or family member for (almost) free on any Southwest flight you take. You’ll pay the taxes and fees on the flight, but not for the ticket itself. And the benefit can be used on both paid and award tickets, which makes it even more valuable.

To qualify for the Companion Pass, you typically have to earn 125,000 qualifying points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. But all Rapid Rewards members active as of Dec. 31, 2020, will receive 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points (CPQPs) and 25 qualifying one-way flights deposited in their accounts within a week — which means Companion Pass requirements are technically lower this year. The pass is then valid for the rest of the year in which you earn it, plus the entire following year. This means that the earlier in the year you can earn the pass, the more value you can squeeze from the benefit.

While not all Rapid Rewards points count toward qualification requirements, points earned with one of Southwest’s cobranded credit cards (including those that come with the sign-up bonuses on the cards) do count toward earning the Companion Pass.

Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

(Photo by Marco Garcia/The Points Guy)

So when does Southwest start calculating points?

Because timing is everything with earning the Companion Pass, Kyle brings up an excellent question. The short answer is that they count from the moment they post to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. However, it’s important to note that different earning methods will post at different rates.

Luckily, the Southwest website lays it all out:

Qualifying earning:  When do points post? 
Revenue flights flown in 2021 Within 72 hours after completion of entire trip
Partner hotel stays completed in 2021 8-12 weeks after stay is completed
Partner car rentals returned in 2021 6-8 weeks after car is returned
Rapid Rewards credit card Within 30 days of the statement closing date.


Specifically with Rapid Rewards points earned with credit cards, keep in mind that points are counted from the time the points post to your Rapid Rewards account — not the date of the transaction. So for those who spent money on a Rapid Rewards credit cards in December 2020 but didn’t see the points hit their Rapid Rewards account until January 2021, those points will count toward 2022’s Companion Pass qualifications.

Remember that Companion Pass benefits for many passholders were extended last year through June 30, 2021, and Southwest has now extended benefits another six months through December 31, 2021.

Related: Southwest unveils reduced elite-status requirements, extends Companion Pass again

Bottom line

Now is the best time to earn the Companion Pass because it means you’ll have the pass for almost two years. And the easiest way to meet the requirements is through using Rapid Rewards credit cards — especially in a time when few people are flying, staying at hotels or booking rental cars.

All three of Southwest’s personal credit cards, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, are currently offering 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3x points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.

Featured image by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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