Timing the Southwest Cards for Companion Pass in 2018 & 2019

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If you’re aiming to earn a Southwest Companion Pass via sign up bonuses from Chase’s co-branded personal Southwest card, there are a couple big reasons why you should be looking at the timing of your applications right now.

What’s a Companion Pass?

Here’s a brief review for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about: the Companion Pass allows you to 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. You earn a Companion Pass by either…

  • flying 100 paid segments
  • accumulating 110,000 Rapid Rewards within a calendar year which you could do by (primarily) spending a ton of money on one Southwest Card, flying a bunch of paid flights, or opening and meeting the minimum spending requirements on two Southwest Credit Cards

It’s the cheapest and easiest to earn the Companion Pass via the sign up bonuses on the Southwest Credit Cards. Let’s look at why now is the time to apply for those cards if you want to earn the Companion Pass this way.

Reason #1: Maximizing a Full Two Years of the Companion Pass

The Companion Pass is good for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31) in which you earn the qualifying points as well as the following year, so timing when you earn it is wise if you want to fully maximize its potential value. To get two full years of Companion Pass benefits, you’ll want to meet the point requirement in the beginning of the calendar year so your companion can fly free for all of that year as well as the following.

Southwest is currently offering 60,000 point sign up bonuses on its two personal credit cards and one business credit card. The personal cards each have a minimum spending requirement of $2,000 in three months; the business card requires $3,000 in three months. You can open two of those cards and by meeting their minimum spending requirements, earn more than enough points to qualify for a Companion Pass. If you need the full three months in order to meet those spending requirements, then you’ll want to apply soon so you can get the pass as early in January as possible. If you waited until the end of November, for example, and it took you three months to meet the spending requirements, you would be missing out on Companion Pass status for all of January and most of February.

Even more important, there are rumors flying that the 60k sign up bonuses for the personal Southwest Cards are ending very soon, which would make earning the Companion Pass more complicated than opening the two personal cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements.

Reason #2: Rumors of the 60k Sign Up Offers for the Southwest Cards Ending

The 60k sign up bonuses on the personal cards, the Personal Plus and Premier Plus, are rumored to be ending either October 1 or October 4. If you’re not eligible for the business card and its 60k bonus, you’ll probably want to apply before then (personally I’d apply by September 30 at the latest) to make it easier for yourself.

Typically the personal Southwest Cards come with 50k bonuses, meaning to reach the 110k threshold to qualify for the Companion Pass you’d have to spend $6,000 more on them or get creative to earn the last 10k points. You could potentially open a business card as well but don’t plan on getting approved for all three of those at the same time–Chase is known for only approving two cards per person every 30 days.

But if you apply now, or at least by September 30, will your Rapid Rewards post to your Southwest account in 2018 (which is what you want to get two full years of Companion Pass status)? Yes, they should, as long as you time your spending to meet the 110k threshold at the right time.

Photo by Dafne Cholet
Photo by Dafne Cholet

Making Sure Your Rapid Rewards Post At the Right Time

Once your card statements close on which you’ve met the minimum spending requirement, your 60,000 bonus points will post not long after. You’ll want to wait to meet your final minimum spending requirement until after your December statement closes, that way your points will be forced to post in 2018. Let me show you what I mean with an example.

Statement closing dates vary from person to person. For the sake of example, let’s say you apply today, are approved, and later find your statement closing date is the 17th of every month. If you applied and were approved today, the 90 day window* for your spending requirement (inclusive of today) would end on December 25. For your Rapid Rewards to post and meet the 110k threshold in 2018, you’d want to finish meeting your minimum spending requirement(s) between the 17th and 25th of December. To be totally safe, probably more like the 18th through the 24th. By meeting the spending requirement after your Dec 17th statement closed, you’d be guaranteeing that your points wouldn’t post until at least January 18th. Points posting on January 18 is good–it means you would qualify for the Companion Pass then, and have it for the rest of 2018 and 2019.

The key is that if you want the Companion Pass for 2018 and 2019, time the arrival of your bonus from the card that will put you over that 110k point threshold by finishing your spend between your third statement closing date and your final day to meet your spending requirement.

*There are reports that Chase gives most people 115 days to meet their minimum spending requirements in actual practice, but technically the rule says 90 days. You can figure out how many days you have exactly by sending Chase a secure message in your online account or calling. 

Bottom Line

The internet is saying that the Southwest Personal Plus and Southwest Premier Plus’ temporarily elevated 60k sign up bonuses are ending either October 1 or 4. If you want to use these sign up bonuses to easily earn a 110,00 Rapid Rewards necessary for the purpose of obtaining the Companion Pass, apply now. Make sure to time your spending so that you earn the Rapid Rewards in 2018 and not 2017, or else you could lose a whole year of Companion Pass status. To achieve this, finish your final spending requirement after your third statement closes but before the time window for meeting your minimum spend elapses.

Hat tip One Mile at a Time


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.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. They denied my application quoting i have 5 cards in last 2 years. Is there better luck by applying in Chase branch? and do they entertain applying for these cards in Chase bank branch?

  2. Can you tell me if southwest offer 60,000 points for 2018/2019? If so what is the credit score u hve to be to qualify for the card. And can u send me a links also to apply. Thank u

  3. Either SW takes awhile to award you with CP or this strategy does not work. I met my spending limit before the 90 day promotion window but after my Dec statement closed. Today, I was awarded my 60k bonus points towards 2018 CP. So now I have 125k points and no CP. I’m crossing my fingers that something will come through my email saying I will have CP but I’m doubtful. May be better to apply for both cards at the start of the year to guarantee you get the CP.

  4. I’m at about 100K miles right now (early December 2018) and have another 40K points I can transfer over now from a Chase Sapphire card. Should I do this before Dec 31st or wait until January 2019? If I wait, will I lose my current 100K points from 2018??

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