Finding deals on flights is one of the best things to do. Finding buy one get one free flight tickets is even better. Buy one get one free? That is right. The Southwest Companion Pass gives people a buy one get one free ticket for the holder and a companion.
It doesn't get any better than this when looking for cheap flights.
To qualify for the coveted Southwest Companion pass usually takes a lot of work, effort, and flying. It has just gotten so much easier, and if you like Southwest and fly to places like Hawaii, you will like this companion pass.
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What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass is a free flight for a companion to join on a trip. If you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can take a companion with you every time you book a flight with Southwest for free. There will be taxes and fees ($5.60) on the flight ticket, but that is it.
The great thing about the pass is that if you have tons of miles and use the miles to book a flight, your companion can come free without using miles. That means your Southwest points go even further. That sounds great if you are looking for a rewarding trip with a spouse or any other companion.
The Points Guy values Southwest miles at 1.5 cents a mile. With the Companion Pass, you are doubling that value for the miles.
Southwest is a great low-cost option for travel in the Continental 48 states, but it has opened up routes internationally and to Hawaii in recent years. If you want to go to Costa Rica, then you can fly using the Companion Pass, allowing you and a companion to fly there for the cost of one.
The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to change your companion three times in a calendar year. So be mindful of how many times you change your companion. If you only have one, then that is perfect.
How to Qualify for the Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass has two ways of achieving this glorified status and reward. You either need to accumulate 125,000 miles or fly on 100 qualifying flights. So basically, either figure out how to get a lot of miles or do a lot of flying.
Most people are not going to be flying on 100 different flights. That is a ton of flying for the regular person, but the miles thing is achievable.
The best way to do this is to open up a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card. Most of these reward cards have a bonus of 75,000 miles.
Here is an effective way to gain those 125,000 miles without flying 100-plus flights.
- Open Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card
- Hit Minimum Spend
- Use Southwest Shopping Portal
- Fly Southwest
It may not sound easy. If you can get this done at the beginning of the year, you will have two years of the Companion Pass to travel anywhere with Southwest. That is a ton of savings and any future travel adventures.
Using Credit Cards to Gain Points
Signing up for credit cards is one of the best ways to gain the points needed to get that Southwest Companion Pass. There are various credit cards with changing bonuses to help you out. The sign-up bonuses are sitting at 75,000 after spending $5,000 in 3 months.
The minimum spend is much higher than other credit cards, but if you travel Southwest enough and know the value of having Southwest, you will do your best to accomplish the minimum spend.
The credit cards that you can get are all part of the Rapid Rewards Miles:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
You can only sign-up for one of these Rapid rewards cards and get the bonus once every 24 months.
If you own a small business, you could open up a Southwest Rapid Rewards business card to help you gain more miles to hit that Companion pass. Here are the two cards to help you out.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card
These cards can help you gain 125,000 miles to earn that companion pass. They come with an annual fee, but if you find value in the card, the value should bypass the fee. At 75,000 Rapid Rewards points, valued at 1.5 cents, it is worth $1,125. That value outweighs the annual fee, and if you can get the companion pass, you will have even more value.
Remember that miles transferred in from other Rapid Rewards accounts or even your Chase Ultimate Rewards points will not count to hit that 125,000 miles.
Flying Many Flights
One of the primary qualifications is flying 100 flights. If you are looking at how to achieve that or the 125,000 miles to hit the Southwest Companion Pass, then we need to do some crunching of numbers.
If flying is your number one choice, then it has been estimated that it will cost around $20,834 on Wanna Get Away Flights (6 miles per dollar) and $10,417 on Business Select Fare (12 miles per dollar). If you are willing to spend that much money on flights, it is achievable.
The best bet is to do a combination of Miles and Flying to hit the 125,000 miles needed to get the companion pass.
5 Ways to Maximize The Companion Pass
There are numerous ways to maximize the companion pass. Here are five ways to get the most value from the companion pass.
1. Free Companion Flights Domestically
The benefit of having free companion flights domestically cannot be overstated. If you want to go on vacation anywhere inside the continental United States, you can take your partner or a companion along (as long as you registered them) and fly much cheaper.
Looking at flights to many places in the states makes travel more convenient. The miles for award flights allow you to double that value for every flight you take that you bring your companion on.
The great thing is that the companion pass could last up to two years. You will get it in the year you achieve the status plus the following year. If you can plan it right, you can almost have two whole years of value and try to get it again.
2. Get Multiple Companion Passes
We all now know how the Southwest Companion Pass works. If you can get it and have a family of four, your spouse could get it on an off year. At that point, you both could have two companion passes and fly your children for free.
Think about the option of flying a family of four for the price of two tickets. The money savings on flying family to different locations and enjoying the ride will be half the price. That is money savings that most people may not even think about.
If you can plan out where one spouse gets the companion pass one year, and then the following year the other spouse receives the companion pass, you can continue a cycle of getting them that allows the whole family to reap the benefits for many years.
As a traveler, it seems like a good deal that is achievable and saves money on travel.
3. Fly From Orlando to Puerto Rico for a $300 Round Trip
If you are looking for flights to the Caribbean, that doesn't get much better than this. You can find flights with Southwest from many places in the U.S. that fly to the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is beautiful place to fly to without a passport. Orlando to San Juan, Puerto Rico has a two-hour non-stop flight that can cost about $135-200 per one way. If you have a companion pass, you can get a round-trip ticket for under $300.
Think about taking a vacation with someone and only paying less than $300 for a round-trip ticket. One of the best things is getting a free checked bag and carry-on as a part of Southwest. It is hard to beat.
The savings and future adventures you could take to travel are unparalleled with the companion pass's savings.
4. Honeymoon Trip to Hawaii for Under $250!
If you ever wanted to visit Hawaii, the Southwest Companion Pass can make that happen. You can take a trip from the Bay area at the Oakland airport and fly to Honolulu or Kona, and the trip will be under $250 for a round trip.
Suppose you are thinking about saving money for a honeymoon vacation. You can put the wedding expenses on your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. When you hit enough miles, you can travel to Hawaii for super cheap. A fantastic honeymoon for both you and your spouse.
It takes planning, patience, and hitting your miles goals. With the help of the credit card, you too can travel to Hawaii for cheap with the Companion pass.
5. Fly Atlanta to Cancun on 7,570 Points Round Trip
It doesn't get any better than having points to pay for free flights. You will have a lot to use for free travel when you are racking up those 125,000 Rapid Reward points to hit the companion pass.
Are you looking for great ways to use those points? You can use 7,570 points plus $100 to fly a round trip from Atlanta to Cancun. The great thing is that you can get a companion for an additional $5.60.
You do not even need to vacation for very long, but this is a great deal. Use your points to go even further. Not only will you be getting free flights, but your companion will also get free flights.
The Southwest Companion Pass is a fantastic status point for many people that fly Southwest. Achieving the pass can be difficult if you are expecting to fly. It is much easier using the Southwest Travel Rewards credit cards and being a part of the frequent flyer club. Hitting the sign-up bonus will allow you to get so close to your goal.
Free and cheap travel can happen with the Southwest Companion Pass. Once you get the companion pass, you will be able to redeem your points to fly for free with your companion. There are many opportunities to take advantage of the pass. You will need to make a plan and make it work. The possibilities are endless.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.