Incredible: Unlimited Companion Travel Plus Points From Just One Card

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Arguably the best deal in all of travel is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. After earning 110,000 points in a calendar year from qualifying sources you can bring a companion along on your Southwest Airlines travels.

Right now – and only for a month – Chase is offering a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass as part of the initial bonus offer on all three Southwest personal cards. And they’re offering points, too. Specifically new cardmembers are eligible to receive a companion pass valid through December 31, 2019 and 30,000 points after $4000 in purchases on the card within 3 months of account opening.

What’s amazing is that the companion flies with you for the cost of taxes whether you are buying a ticket or even redeeming points. That means you can even transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards from a Chase Sapphire Preferre Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card over to Southwest and redeem those points, travel with a companion, and effectively double the value of your points.

Only a Portion of Members Have Ever Had This Opportunity Before

This is probably the best deal in all of travel right now, and something we’ve only seen once before on a very limited basis.

In late 2017 the companion pass was offered as part of the Southwest card’s initial bonus for California residents, part of the strategy to combat the new West Coast strength of Alaska Airlines-Virgin America. At the time this was seen as about the best initial card bonus we’ve ever seen, but unfortunately required a California address to be eligible.

What was exciting to me (as a non-California resident) about the offer was it demonstrated Southwest was using the companion pass as a strategic tool — and therefore, despite being more valuable than just about anything offered in travel, wasn’t likely to be discontinued any time soon, something I’ve long feared because it’s just too good.

What I like about Southwest is that they have no change fees, you can use your points even to make a speculative booking. It’s always great to have Southwest points around, even if you book mostly international award tickets. You might need a domestic flight to get to the city your international award ticket leaves from. Or book the Southwest flight, and if award availability opens up to include a domestic flight on your other ticket, great, there’s no change fees. Southwest points are great insurance. They don’t have other fees either like checked bag fees or change fees.

Which Southwest Card Should You Get?

I think the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card represents the best overall value for someone who flies Southwest — which someone who has a Companion Pass certainly will. This is a $149 annual fee card that gives you a $75 Southwest travel credit and 7500 additional points at cardmember anniversary — each of which give you value worth at least half the fee.

Then you get 4 upgraded boardings per year – A1-15 boarding, which you purchase at the gate and get statement credit back for and 20% back on Southwest inflight purchases like inflight cocktails and internet.

And spending contributes towards elite status: 1500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 in purchases (up to $100,000 in purchases annually or 15,000 tier qualifying points).

Of course the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee at $69, if that’s your primary concern.

Can You Get the Card, and How to Keep the Companion Pass

Previously the only ‘quick path’ to a companion pass was getting both a personal and a small business Southwest card from Chase. Of course all of the Southwest cards are subject to ‘5/24’, meaning that Chase will generally only approve customers who have had fewer than 5 new cards in the last 24 months.

Note that if you currently have a personal Southwest card you aren’t eligible for the bonus, or if you have gotten a bonus within the last 24 months.

Of course if you’ve had 3 or fewer new cards within the past 24 months, consider getting a personal Southwest card and you’re still going to want to requalify for a companion pass in 2020. So the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card notably still has a great offer of 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Meanwhile your flying Southwest – and therefore points-earn – count towards the 110,000 points you need to re-earn the companion benefit. And spend on Southwest credit cards does, too.

Recommended link: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. @ Gary — Brilliant way to stick biz travelers with higher fares. The number of seats for sale will shrink, and the solo biz travelers will pay through the noise. If only WN had First class.

  2. It’s a win-win-WN marketing gimmick. Most working stiffs don’t have the time to take more than a few flights a year. And most will use CP to fly family, which means they’ll be buying additional tix on WN instead of a competitor. So a big WN for WN and keeps planes full. For Chase it means they only have to buy 30k points per customer – half price compared to last year. For Customers, you will lose $420 worth of air travel but gain a CP that expires in 11 months. I bet most end up spending more cash on WN than they would have with the 60k cards. The major losers are WN’s competitors, because they will have to lower fares or create their own gimmicks…

  3. @Gene: It seems to me the best scenario for business travelers is Southwests viability in all of their markets. This keeps competitors more price/cost/service competitive.
    The customers this appeals to typically will already have Southwest cards or already have the companion pass until the end of this year.
    I think AA is morphing into SWA’s main competitor as stealthfully as it can, and with this, SWA gives their customers another reason not to defect while specifically attracting new customers.

  4. So now we know the impact of the SPG point transfers in January 2017 to Marriott hotel/air packages resulting in a significant bump in Companion Passes expiring 12/31/18 did not have the catastrophic impact on Southwest’s profitability since it’s likely they aren’t frequent WN travelers So they have priced that cost and attached it to credit card offers. Very shrewd.

  5. How quickly circumstances can change.
    Just last week … when Chase approved my wife for a 60,000 point Southwest offer @ 5/24 I was surprised and could not have been happier.
    Now I’m thinking … what if she waited? Would my wife have been approved @5/24 or turned down for the unlimited companion pass card.?
    “Hey, You Never Know”.

  6. I’ve been on the fence about a Southwest card, but this was enough to get me to hit the link and do it. Absurdly low credit limit tho, I’ll speak to them about that. Thanks Gary.

  7. I’ll stick with the 2 card strategy, just was approved for a personal and a business card. After spend I’ll hit the companion pass and get 2019 and 2020.

  8. I have a Southwest Chase Rapid Reward Premier credit card — and have been offered as I remember 10,000 RR points to upgrade to a newer Southwest Chase Rapid Reward card (Priority?). Is this or any other credit card upgrade offer still available?

    BTW, I took your advice ands applied for a Chase Sapphire “anchor card” a week ago — and am awaiting a response. I do have an “Excellent” credit score.

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