Let's Hack! the Southwest companion pass

If you frequently fly domestically with your family between cities serviced by Southwest Airlines, there's no better value than the Southwest companion pass.


The companion pass allows you to designate one companion (the designated companion can be changed up to 3 times during the period covered by the pass), who can fly with the companion pass-holder for free on all paid and award flights, paying only the 9/11 security fee of up to $10 per round-trip ticket.

Validity Period

The companion pass is alid for the remainder of the calendar year it is earned and the entire following calendar year.  Any companion pass earned before the end of 2013 will be valid until December 31, 2014.

How to Qualify

You can qualify for the companion pass by flying 100 Southwest-operated ne-way flights within a calendar year, or by earning 110,000 qualifying points.

Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights, points issued on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.

On revenue flights, you earn qualifying points at these rates:

  • 12 qualifying points per dollar spent on Business Select fares;
  • 10 qualifying points per dollar spent on Anytime fares;
  • 6 qualifying points per dollar spent on Wanna Get Away fares.

No qualifying points are earned on award redemptions.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

Fortunately, you don't need to spend $18,000 on fares in order to earn the companion pass.  Instead, you can qualify using the points you earn using any of the co-branded Southwest credit cards issued by Chase.  And right now, this is easier to do than ever, thanks to the  very generous signup bonuses currently offered by the cards.

All four of these cards come with the same signup bonus: 50,000 Rapid Rewards points (which count as Companion Pass Qualifying Points) after $2,000 in purchases on the card in the first 3 months.  Once you meet the minimum spending requirement on any two of the cards, you'll have 104,000 qualifying points towards the companion pass, and you only need to spend $6,000 more in order to qualify for the rest of the current year and all of next year.

Chase doesn't generally allow you to receive a signup bonus for the same card more than once, but each of these cards counts as a different "product," so you can receive the signup bonus for each of the four cards one time.  Additionally, you can't generally apply for two personal cards or two business cards within 65-90 days of each other.

Therefore, the best method for acquiring a companion pass as painlessly as possible is to apply for one of the two personal cards and one of the two business cards.  This gives you the maximum flexibility for applying again in 2015 when the companion pass you earn this year expires.

Happy hacking!