Southwest is currently offering 50k bonus point sign ups on its two personal credit cards and one business credit card after spending $2,000 in three months. You can leverage the offers for $3,142 in free flights in 2017 and 2018.
You can get both a personal and business card at once (or two different types of the personal cards), 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.
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 2017 and 2018.
The free travel from the 110k Rapid Rewards and Companion Pass are worth around $3,142.
- 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.
Earning the Companion Pass Through Buying a Marriott Travel Package
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.
News hit the miles blogosphere earlier this week that point transfers in from hotel and car rental programs wouldn’t count towards a companion pass anymore. However on Wednesday, Southwest released a statement via The Points Guy that they decided to retract the closing of the loophole through March 31, 2017. This is very good news for any of you who took advantage of the Marriott Travel Package deal. You can transfer 90k SPG points to Marriott (90k SPG points = 270k Marriott points) to buy a Marriott travel package that includes a hotel certificate for seven nights at a category 1-5 hotel and 120k Rapid Rewards for the purpose of earning a companion pass for 2017 and 2018.
So if you have 90k SPG points and want a companion pass, transferring to Marriott for the travel package is still a viable option, at least until March 31. As are other hotel point to Rapid Reward transfers. But if you don’t have 90k SPG points, the easiest way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass is to earn 110,000 qualifying points in one calendar year.
There are three Southwest credit cards: Premier Personal, Premier Business, Plus Personal.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card: public offer is 40k for spending $1,000 in three months, but you can find 50k for $2k spending in three months links like this one
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: public offer is 50k for spending $2,000 in three months
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card: public offer is 40k for spending $1,000 in three months, but you can find 50k for $2k spending in three months links like this one
The $99-annual-fee Premier cards come with 6,000 anniversary Rapid Rewards. The annual fee is not waived the first year. The Plus card has a $69 annual fee. It comes with 3,000 anniversary Rapid Rewards.
If you can’t get a business card (read this to see if you qualify), you need to get the Premier Personal and the Plus Personal. If those links above stop showing 50k bonuses, current cardholders can send you a referral for the Plus card with 50,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $2,000 in the first three months.
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 Premier and the 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?
Unfortunately all three are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.
The Strategy to Get 104k Southwest Rapid Rewards
Sign up for two 50k card offers.
Spend $2,000 on each card in the next three months. The sooner, the better. Once your statement closes on which you’ve met the minimum spending requirement, your 50,000 bonus points will post. Meeting both $2,000 spending requirements means you’ll get 104,000 Southwest points (100,000 bonus + 4,000 for spending at 1 point per dollar).
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 2018.
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. All of these steps will only work until March 31, 2017, as that is when points transferred from hotel programs, car rental programs, and dinging programs stop counting towards the companion pass.
- Transfer 13,000 Chase 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 (at least until March 31), 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 seven of your companions.
The Member may, however, change his/her designated Companion and request issuance of a new Companion Pass card up to three (3) times each calendar year that the Member maintains Companion Pass status. Any reservation with the current Companion Pass would need to be cancelled before changing his/her designated Companion. Requests may be made by calling 1-800-435-9792. Allow 21 business days for processing and issuance of the Companion Pass card.
You can switch back and forth between companions, designating a new companion four total times–the original companion and three changes–in the first year and three new companions in the second year for seven total. 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:
- If you have 90k SPG points and you transfer them to Marriott to buy seven hotel nights + 120,000 Rapid Rewards, which qualifies you for the companion pass. If you don’t have 90k SPG points or don’t want to spend them that way, move on to the next step.
- Open two of the Southwest 50k cards on the same day.
- Meet the minimum spending requirement of $2,000 within three months on each card. That gives you 104,000 points.
- 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 2018 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.