Updated because this is literally the best week of the year to take advantage of the best deal in the mile-sphere.
Southwest is currently offering 50k bonus point sign ups on its personal and business credit cards after spending $2,000 in three months. You can leverage the offers for $3,142 in free flights in 2016 and 2017.
You can get both a personal and business card at once, and after meeting their minimum spending requirements, you will have 104,000 Rapid Rewards post to your account.
Southwest has a nearly fixed-value program in which you can get any Wanna Get Away? fare for 70 points for every dollar of the base fare. That means 104,000 points are worth $1,485 in free flights.
Earn another 6,000 Rapid Rewards with the cards or a few other ways–getting to 110k points total–and you will earn the best deal in all of travel hacking, a Southwest Companion Pass. Time your earning just right–and now is the perfect time to start–and that Companion Pass will last for 24 months, the longest it can possibly last.
If you have the Southwest Companion pass, you can designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly. That’s $5.60 each way within the United States and a bit more on Southwest’s international routes. That’s every Southwest flight–including paid tickets and awards–for almost all of 2016 and 2017.
The free travel from the 110k Rapid Rewards and Companion Pass are worth around $3,142 even after Southwest’s recent devaluation.
- What is a Southwest Companion Pass?
- How can you get one from two credit cards?
- How can you time this to make your companion pass last 22 months?
There are two ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass: fly 100 paid segments or open two credit cards and use one of several methods to get the last 6,000 points.
This post will be about the easier and cheaper way: getting the credit cards.
The easiest way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass is to earn 110,000 qualifying points in one calendar year. At the moment, qualifying points can be earned from credit card sign up bonuses, credit card spending, Rapid Rewards shopping portal points, or hotel points transfers among other ways.* Qualifying points CAN NOT be earned by transferring points directly from Ultimate Rewards.
Right now a personal and business Southwest credit cards are offering a 50k Rapid Rewards sign up bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
Each card requires $2,000 spending in 3 months to unlock the bonus miles. The $99-annual-fee Premier cards come with 6,000 anniversary Rapid Rewards. The annual fee is not waived the first year.
There used to be four cards, but Chase recently discontinued the Business Plus card. I don’t see a 50k offer on the Personal Plus card.
Can You Get Two Southwest Cards at Once?
You can and should get two Southwest cards the same day if you want to get the Southwest Companion Pass. I’ve seen tons of reports of people getting one personal and one business Southwest card on the same day. I have also seen people report getting both the Plus and Premier personal cards on the same day.
Can You Get the Personal and Plus?
All three Southwest cards are separate products. Having one or having had one does not disqualify you from getting a different one.
Can You Get a Card Again?
The Strategy to Get 104k Southwest Rapid Rewards
Sign up for both a personal and business 50k card offer.
Do not meet the $2,000 minimum spending requirement on either card. You need to time your spending, so that you meet the spending requirements on the January 2016 statements, so that you earn the 100,000 bonus points in 2016 and get the Companion Pass for 2016 and 2017 instead of 2015 and 2016.
To time my spending, I’d stick the cards in my sock drawer until after I got the December 2015 statement. Then I’d know I had the all clear to spend on the cards because the points from that spending (even if it occurs in December 2015) wouldn’t appear until January 2016.
When the January 2016 statement closes and the sign up bonus hits immediately or within a few days, you’ll have 104,000 qualifying points toward the 110,000 you need for your Companion Pass.
What if $4,000 is too much to spend in one month? Then you can spend most of it in the next two months, just make sure you don’t hit $2,000 in spending on either card until after the December 2015 statement closes. For instance, you could spend $1,500 on each card in the first two months, and $500 on each card in the third month. Then 101,000 points would post in January 2016 (100,000 bonus + 500 spending on personal card + 500 spending on business card). That would leave you 9,000 points short of the companion pass instead of 6,000, but it’s a better option for people who can’t pull off $4,000 of spending in a single month.
Here’s where the fun begins. There are two great ways to get those 6,000 points and your free companion pass good through December 2017.
1. Spend $6,000 more on either card. The 6,000 Rapid Rewards points earned will put your total at 110,000.
2. This one is multistep, but should only take a few minutes.
- Transfer 13,000 Ultimate Rewards points to 13,000 Hyatt points. Inside your Chase account, go to the Ultimate Rewards section, Transfer Points, and select Hyatt. The 1:1 transfer should be instantaneous.
- Transfer 12,500 Hyatt points to 6,000 Rapid Rewards here. The 25:12 transfer may not go through immediately, but when it does, you will be over 110,000 points, and you’ll have a companion pass.
Why can’t I just transfer 6,000 Ultimate Rewards to 6,000 Rapid Rewards? They are transfer partners.
Ultimate Rewards transferred directly to Rapid Rewards do not count toward the 110,000 qualifying points threshold. But hotel points transferred in do count, and this two-step process gets the 6,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards at the cost of the fewest Ultimate Rewards.
3. through 10.
There are more than just these two options to get the 6,000 points that we need after meeting the credit card spending requirements. Here is Million Mile Secrets with ten ways.
Maximizing the Value of the Pass
An easy was to maximize the value of a Southwest Companion Pass is to use all four of your companions.
The Companion Pass is not transferrable. However, the Member may change his/her designated Companion and request issuance of a new Companion Pass up to three (3) times within the validity period of the Pass. Requests must be made in writing and accompanied by the current Companion Pass card, which will be cancelled, to: Southwest Airlines, Rapid Rewards, P.O. Box 36657, Dallas, TX 75235. In addition, please include the new Companion’s name, address, phone number, social security number, and date of birth. Allow 21 business days for processing.
You can switch back and forth between companions, designating a new companion four total times–the original companion and three changes. You can only have one companion at a time, but there is still some value in efficiently using your changes.
With a few easy steps, you can get $3,142 worth of travel on Southwest:
- Open two of the Southwest 50k cards on the same day.
- Meet the minimum spending requirement with spending between the closes of your December 2015 and January 2016 statements. That way the 104,000 points count toward 2016 qualification.
- Then get the last 6,000 points needed to get to 110,000 qualifying points and a free Companion Pass on Southwest through the end of 2017 for $6,000 in spending or 13,000 Ultimate Rewards.
- Designate a companion to fly just for the taxes on Southwest every time you fly on Southwest, whether you’re flying a paid ticket or an award.
Why not have both parents get the Companion Pass and each name a child as a companion? That would be a 4-for-2 travel deal for up to two years.
Getting the Cards
Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year and free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.
Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.
Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.