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Travel The best credit card pairings to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

03:11  23 february  2021
03:11  23 february  2021 Source:   thepointsguy.com

Southwest Companion Pass: Earn with credit cards

  Southwest Companion Pass: Earn with credit cards With these Southwest credit card offers, you can earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass and fly with a companion for free for up to two years.The coveted Southwest Companion Pass is an elite travel benefit that's almost too good to be true. This pass allows another passenger to fly with you for free (plus taxes) an unlimited number of times for the rest of the year it's earned, plus the entire following year. That means if you earn the pass now, you'll have it until December 31, 2021.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway © Provided by The Points Guy
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new limited-time offers.

Whether you’re talking about shoes, donuts, slushies or flights, BOGO is a great term.

Travel is (almost) always better with a buddy, so being able to take someone along on your flights at almost no additional cost is a huge benefit. There are a few travel-related companion tickets and fly-with-a-friend promotions out there, but none of them are nearly as all-encompassing as the holy grail of buy-one-get-one–almost-free — the Southwest Companion Pass.

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Having the Southwest Companion Pass is always a good idea, but it’s an even better idea when there are creative ways to make it happen without flying on lots of paid Southwest flights. For example, you could get a well-timed Southwest credit card sign-up bonus and earn it that way instead.

With some limited-time Southwest credit card bonuses available, let’s review the best credit card pairings to earn the Companion Pass so you and your travel buddy can get up in the air as soon as you’re ready.

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a group of people sitting at a dock: (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Earn a Companion Pass with one card bonus

Normally, you can’t actually earn a Companion Pass with just one card welcome bonus, but right now is an exception to that general rule. For now, you may not need anything more than one card bonus to make the pass a reality.

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Here’s the current lineup of Southwest personal credit card bonus offers.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. — $149 annual fee.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. — $99 annual fee.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn a Companion Pass valid through 2/28/2022 plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. — $69 annual fee.
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

And here are the small-business card bonus offers.

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: 70,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months, plus earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 in the first six months. — $199 annual fee.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and 6,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points awarded after each account anniversary — $99 annual fee.

Any of the Southwest personal credit cards will give you a Companion Pass from just the sign-up bonus, after you hit the spending requirement. However, note that the pass from those cards is only valid until February 2022. Normally, a regular Companion Pass earned by reaching 125,000 qualifying points is valid the rest of the year in which it is earned and all of the following calendar year, which right now would push that to Dec. 31, 2022.

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  Best cash back credit cards of 2021 Put one of the best cash back credit cards in your purse or wallet and make sure you're earning bonus cash back in all the places you shop the most every day.The old saying "Cash is king" might never have been as true as it is right now. While many people like to use their credit card to earn travel points or miles that they can redeem for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, those plans are on hold for many at the moment thanks to the pandemic.

So, even if you want the instant gratification of getting a pass from one welcome bonus, there’s still some validity in simultaneously working on earning it the “old-fashioned” way by hitting 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

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As simple as using a Southwest Companion Pass might be (and it really is), choosing which Southwest cards to get in order to earn the pass isn’t always straight-forward because of the fine print.

The three Southwest personal cards all have a term that says you cannot currently have any personal Southwest credit card and you can’t have been a previous cardholder who received a bonus for being a new cardmember in the last 24 months. In addition, you also must have fewer than five new personal accounts across all banks (as shown on your credit report) in the last 24 months. This is known as the infamous Chase 5/24 rule.

The rules for the two small business cards say that you can’t be a current cardholder of the card you want to get (so can’t have two of the same card) and you can’t be a previous cardholder of that specific card if you got the welcome bonus in the last 24 months.

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Essentially, this means that personal Southwest credit cards have no impact on your eligibility for business cards (other than factoring in 5/24) and vice versa. Additionally, having one business credit card doesn’t affect your eligibility for the other. That still leaves several workable combinations to unlock a Companion Pass, even when the current welcome bonus that includes a promotional one isn’t available.

a large air plane on a runway at an airport © The Points Guy

Path to the Companion Pass

One and done

It’s not common to be able to get a Companion Pass from one welcome bonus, but that’s the reality right now with the three personal Southwest cards, so that can be your one-and-done solution for a pass.

One personal, one small business card

If you want to work toward earning the full Companion Pass valid until the end of 2022, then there are some card combos that could help.

If you got any of the Southwest personal cards, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, and spent $5,000 on it in the first 3 months to earn the Companion Pass valid through Feb. 28, 2022, you’d also earn 30,000 bonus points from that bonus.

Assuming you also had an eligible small business, also getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card while it has a 70,000 point bonus after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, may be enough to unlock the full Companion Pass.

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Because of the ongoing impact of the pandemic on 2021 travel, Southwest gave all of those who had an open Rapid Rewards account as of Dec. 31, 2020, 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points for 2021. This means you just need to earn 100,000 more Companion Pass qualifying points in 2021 to hit the 125,000 needed for the full pass. The bonus points components of the bonus on those two cards would get you there if you fall into that category of having a 25k point headstart.

a hand holding a piece of paper © The Points Guy

If you didn’t have an account eligible for that 25,000 points headstart, keep in mind you can earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 in the first six months on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card. In fact, if you earned the full bonus on that card, you’ll earn 100,000 bonus points, which could be paired with the 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points that Southwest given to those who had open Rapid Rewards accounts at the end of last year and would earn the full pass with one card.

As an added bonus, that card actually has some of the best Southwest perks, such as the four upgrading boarding A1 – A15 positions (when available at the gate), 3x points on Southwest Airlines purchases, 9,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points on each cardmember anniversary and up to 365 Inflight WiFi Credits valid on Southwest each year.

Related reading: Best Southwest credit cards

Get extra points to use with Southwest

Points earned from Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, can transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 basis. However, unlike with the points earned from the Southwest branded credit cards, these points do not count toward earning the Companion Pass.

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That said, you can use transfer those points to Southwest and have even more Rapid Rewards points at the ready to “pay” for your tickets, and then your designated companion can come along paying just taxes and fees, starting at $5.60 per flight.

Bottom Line

Right now there are several great ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass without much — or any — actually flying. You can easily earn a promotional Companion Pass valid through February 2022 with just one card bonus, or go for the full pass valid all the way to the end of 2022.

Once you’ve secured the pass via getting one or multiple cards, you and your companion will be ready to head off to places like Utah, Florida, national parks, Hawaii, the Caribbean and beyond.

Featured image by Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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