Airlines

How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Kurt Adams

Kurt Adams

January 26, 2024

7 min read

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Some of all of the card offers that appear on this page are from advertisers; compensation may affect how and where the cards appear on the site; and Going does not include all card companies are all available card offers.

Companion passes allow you to get a second ticket on a flight without paying the full fare. While several airlines offer companion passes, Southwest’s is often considered to be the Holy Grail. 

This guide will walk you through why it’s so valuable, how to get the Southwest Companion Pass, and how to maximize using it.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is so coveted because you can use it as many times as you want in the year you earn it and the following year. Plus, unlike other airlines that charge you a flat fee north of $99 for your companion’s fare, with the Southwest Companion Pass you only pay the taxes and fees on your plus-one’s ticket. 

Depending on how you time it, you are nearly getting a buy-one, get-one ticket for two years of flying with Southwest Airlines

Southwest Companion Pass key facts:

  • Companion fare cost: taxes and fees only
  • Frequency: as many times as you like, as long as it is valid
  • Length valid: the year you earn it in and the following year (e.g. remainder of 2024 and 2025)

Sound too good to be true? The only hiccup is that you have to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. We’ll walk you through how to get it below. 

Limited time offer: 

The three personal Southwest credit cards are running a limited time offer to get the coveted Companion Pass quicker. 

bonus_miles_full

This offer applies to:

But act fast: This offer ends March 11, 2024.

Who should consider this offer?

This offer is great because it makes obtaining the Companion Pass easier than before,  but with all shortcuts, there are trade-offs.

I think the person for whom this offer is best is someone who is planning a packed travel itinerary in 2024. Maybe you have several weddings to attend this year? Or are you trying to squeeze in family travel and still want to get away for spring break for cheap? Then this could be a way to save costs on airfare. 

The Companion Pass is also great for families looking to travel more for less. A parent could apply for the card, earn the Companion Pass, and then designate your child as the Companion. 

And, if you’re part of a two-parent household, each parent could apply for this card, earn the Companion Pass as part of this offer, and then designate one kid each as a Companion. This could be a great way to travel for spring break, summer vacation, and see Grandma. 

This offer is a great option if you plan to do a lot of traveling in 2024 and don’t want to bother with the logistics of earning the Companion Pass the traditional route. 

Who should skip this offer?

If you’re already working on the Companion Pass, you’ll be better off earning the 135,000 points to get the traditional form of the Companion Pass. (We explain this method below.)

For example, let’s say you opened a Southwest personal card recently and took advantage of a juicy welcome offer. If those welcome offer points posted to your account in 2024, you’re a decent chunk of the way there. Keep focusing on that finish line.

Also. if you plan to do a lot of traveling this year and next year, the traditional way of earning the Companion Pass is going to be more valuable. When it is obtained by earning the 135,000 points, you’ll get the Companion Pass for the remainder of this year and the entire following year. 

To translate that into plain English: if you earn the Companion Pass through the traditional route, you’ll have it to use through the end of 2025. But if you opt for this limited-time offer, your Companion Pass will expire at the end of February 2025.

The traditional method requires more perseverance, but it also lasts 10 months longer.

Finally, I need to also call out that this offer is not for you if you already have a personal credit card with Southwest. Chase limits applicants to one personal and one business card with Southwest. 

If you have a Southwest business credit card, but not a personal card? You’re in the clear.  

Recap: Who this is best for

Who should consider this offer

  • You plan to do a lot of traveling in 2024, but not as much in 2025
  • You don’t want to worry about tracking points
  • You have no cards with this airline, or only a business card

Who should hold off on this offer

  • You’re already working on earning the 135,000 points needed to earn the traditional Companion Pass
  • You already have a personal card with this airline
  • You want to do a lot of traveling in 2025
  • You mainly travel solo

Why Scott loves the Southwest Companion Pass

“Southwest’s Companion Pass is—in my personal opinion—the single most valuable perk in travel. Period. 

 

Other airlines’ companion passes are typically single-use and often require a $100+ co-pay. With this airline, you can use their Companion Pass over and over, as many times as you like, for the next 12 months. 

 

And your companion’s ticket only costs $5.60 each way in taxes on domestic flights (including Hawaii); that’s it. 

 

I’ve personally gotten the Companion Pass numerous times and it’s saved me thousands of dollars on flights.”

How to get the Southwest Companion Pass:

While other airlines may award you a companion pass just by holding the airline’s co-branded credit card or spending a certain amount on the card, the trick with Southwest Airlines is that you must earn the Southwest Companion Pass. 

To earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you need to do one of the following in a calendar year:

  • Complete 100 qualifying one-way flights, or
  • Earn 135,000 points through Southwest Rapid Rewards® 

I promise you, you don’t need to take 100 flights in a year (unless you want to). 

Earning the 135,000 points may sound intimidating, but Southwest credit cards earn points toward this goal. The points you earn from a card welcome bonus will count toward this 135,000-point goal. 

The following Southwest credit cards can help get you started.

Southwest personal cards:

Southwest personal cards compared

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Annual fee
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Foreign transaction fees
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Earning rate
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • Earn 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Earn 3X points per dollar on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • Earn 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Earn 3X points per dollar on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • Earn 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
Welcome offer
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Our take

A great starter card if you enjoy Southwest Airlines. 
Read our review.

The Goldilocks of the three, this is a middle-of-the-road option. 

Read our review.

This is the best option for Southwest fans. Read our review.

Southwest business cards:

If you’re a business owner, you can also consider these Southwest business cards:

Southwest business cards compared

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Annual fee
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Foreign transaction fees
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Earning rate
  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases. 
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. 
  • Earn 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 4X points per dollar on Southwest purchases
  • Earn 3X points per dollar on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services.
  • Earn 2X points per dollar on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • Earn 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
Welcome offer
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Our take

A great option if you want to work towards the Companion Pass, but it lacks the perks of the higher-end Performance option. 

Read our review

Southwest’s top-of-the-line business card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business card is a great card to have in your wallet if you're an entrepreneur who flies Southwest often.

Read our review.

Just be aware that Chase, the bank that issues Southwest cards, limits applicants to one personal and one business Southwest credit card. 

Travel Tip

You'll have to earn the qualifying points to get the Southwest Companion Pass. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Southwest Rapid Rewards does not count toward earning Southwest points. This also applies to any hotel or rental car programs whose points could transfer to Southwest.

A Southwest credit card’s welcome offer will get you a good way towards the required 135,000, but here are some additional you can also earn the points:

  • Use the Southwest shopping portal: Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping is an online portal that allows you to earn extra points on top of your regular purchases. This will help to turbocharge your earning since regular purchases with your Southwest card will otherwise only net you 1x point per dollar. 
  • Enroll in Rapid Rewards Dining: Enroll your credit card with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program to earn up to bonus points per dollar when you eat at participating restaurants. While you’re working toward earning the companion pass, it would be worth opting into their marketing emails: You’ll earn 3X points per dollar if you do, but only 2X points per dollar if you don’t.
  • Pay for Southwest flights with your Southwest credit card. You’ll earn multiple bonus points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases. The bonus rate you’ll earn depends on which card you have. 
  • Book hotels or rental cars through Southwest Travel. Use the Southwest travel portal to book hotels or car rentals to earn more points. 

How to use the Southwest Companion Pass:

The best part of earning the Southwest Companion Pass is using it. After you reach the 135,000 qualifying points, here’s how to use it:

  1. Designate your companion.

Login to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. Once you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass, you should see an option to Choose Your Companion. Click Enter Companion and fill out the required info. 

  1. Book your flight. 

Before redeeming your Companion Pass on a flight, you must first book your own ticket. Then, you’ll be able to add your companion.  

  1. Add a Companion. 

After you book a flight, go to the My Trips section of your Southwest account. You should see an Add Companion option. You’ll have a chance to review the information before proceeding. When you’re ready to move forward, click Purchase and pay the taxes and fees for your companion’s seat.  

  1. Change companions. 

You’re allowed to change your companion up to three times in one calendar year. Before you change companions, you’ll need to cancel any future reservations with your current companion. 

The process for changing is a bit cumbersome. You must call 1-800-435-9792 to make a change, and even then, Southwest cautions it may take up two weeks.  

  1. Rinse and repeat. 

One of the greatest benefits of the Southwest Companion Pass is that you can use it as many times as you like, as long as it’s valid! You’ll only pay the taxes and fees on your companion’s ticket each time you use it. 

Why to earn the Southwest Companion Pass early in the year

Because the Southwest Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year you earn it in, and the following year, timing matters a lot. Your best bet is to earn it earlier in a calendar year to maximize the benefit. 

Here’s an example: 

Earn the companion pass in November: You’d have it for one more month of this calendar year, plus all next year. 

  • Total time with the Southwest Companion Pass: 13 months total

You earn it by the end of March: You’ll have the companion pass for the remaining nine months of the year, plus all next year. 

  • Total time with the companion pass: 21 months

That’s almost an extra year! 

You need to earn all of the qualifying points for the companion pass within the same calendar year, so you’ll need to be aware that any points you earn in December of one year don’t roll over and count for the next year. 

Going has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Going and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. Some of all of the card offers that appear on this page are from advertisers; compensation may affect how and where the cards appear on the site; and Going does not include all card companies are all available card offers.

Kurt Adams

Kurt Adams

Marketing


Published January 26, 2024

Last updated February 29, 2024

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