Posted by William Charles on January 12, 2015
Airline Rewards

Published on January 12th, 2015 | by William Charles

65

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Southwest Companion Pass

What Is It?

The Southwest companion pass lets you choose one person to travel with you for free for one year. You actually get the companion pass for more than a full year, this is because you’ll get it until the end of the calendar year you earn the pass in and then the next calendar year. This means that if you earn it in January of 2016, you’d get the companion pass until December of 2017.

There are two ways to qualify for the companion pass:

  • Fly 100 qualifying one way flights or
  • Earn 110,000 Southwest points

Once you’ve earned the companion pass and designated your companion whenever you book you’ll be given the option to add that companion to your booking. There are no limits to how often the companion pass may be used. The companion pass can be used on award & paid flights.

What Fees Does The Companion Pay?

This is a government mandated fee that was introduced in light of September 11th, this fee is aptly called the “September 11th security fee“. This fee cannot exceed $5.60 per one way flight ($11.2 for a round trip). This is the only fee you are required to pay when adding your companion.

Southwest gives customers two pieces of checked baggage for free on all tickets. You can view their full baggage policies here.

The companion pass is only booked once the main individual purchases their ticket (with cash or points) and it has been processed.

This means you cannot immediately book your companion pass after booking the initial flight. There is some lag time between the two events. H/T to Paul.

Best Ways To Earn It

Most people won’t fly 100 one way flights in a calendar year (unless you’re a road warrior, in which case you might). The easiest ways to get a Southwest companion pass all involve getting multiple credit cards.

Two Southwest Cards

The normal sign up bonus on the Southwest cards is 25,000 points after $2,000 in spend, but these cards almost always have an increased sign up bonus of 50,000 points after $2,000 in spend. These cards earn at a rate of 1 point per $1 in spend (they earn 2 points per $1 in spend on Southwest flight purchases, hotel partners, car rental partners & point purchases). These are the three cards that Southwest offers (Business plus was discontinued in 2014), click the names of each card to see the current sign up bonus.

This means that at minimum if you apply for two credit cards you’ll have 104,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirements, which leaves you 6,000 points short. Here are some ideas on how to earn the additional 6,000 points you’ll need.

1. 1800 Flowers

1800 flowers regularly runs promotions Southwest. Frequent miler has written a series of posts on how you can earn a companion pass using 1800 flowers and has done a lot of experimentation, I suggest giving it a thorough read if you’re considering this, I’d start with this post “how to feed the hungry and fly for free“.

$120 > 6,000 Southwest points + $120 in flowers/snacks

I personally think this method is too risky unless you’re just needing to top off a few points for your pass. If you can get the 1,500 points for purchases over $29.99 you’d effectively be paying $120 for 6,000 Southwest points and you’d have a heap of flowers/possible tax deductions.

Although at the moment Southwest is only offer 1,000 points for purchases over $29.99, which would make this more expensive (and this all excludes shipping as well).

2. Make $6,000 in purchases

Because the Southwest cards earn 1x point per dollar spent, if you spent $6,000 then you’d get the extra 6,000 points you need for the pass. Obviously you’d be missing out on getting at least 2% cash back on these purchases ($120), which is why the 1800 flowers route might make more sense.

What Points Do & Don’t Count?

Does count

  • Points earned from Southwest flights
  • Points earned from spending on your Chase Southwest credit cards
  • Sign up bonus points from the Chase Southwest credit cards
  • Anniversary points from the Chase southwest credit cards
  • Referral points earned from referring friends & family do count towards the companion pass
  • Points from the Southwest shopping portal
  • Points from Southwest dining
  • Points from Energy Plus (please becareful with this company, a lot of horror stories)
  • Points from Everything Energy
  • Points from Regus virtual office payments
  • Points for signing up to Dish
  • Points from Reliant secure
  • Points from SuperShuttle & ExecuCar
  • Base points earn from hotel booking websites that earn airline miles instead of hotel points count (e.g RocketMiles, PointsHound, Kaligo) but any additional bonuses (e.g sign up bonuses) do not count. Update: some people are reporting that all of these points count. Keep in mind your points won’t post until after your hotel stay.

Does not count

F.A.Q’s

How can I see if certain points have qualified for the companion pass?

  • Log into your rapid rewards account
  • Navigate to rewards activity (or click that link)
  • Click the drop down menu next to “type”
  • Select companion pass qualify points

You’ll then see a full list of points that do qualify.

Can I change the name of my companion?

Yes, it’s possible to change your companion up to three times for the duration of your companion pass and you can change back to the same person as well (e.g nominate your wife, change to your mistress and then back to your wife). To do this just call Southwest up and make the request.

Update: The limit of 3 is actually for each calendar year; e.g. if you get the Pass in January 2016, you can switch 3 times in 2016 and another 3 times in 2017.

When do points post from the Southwest credit cards?

Typically within 1-2 days of your statement closing date.

How soon can I start using my companion pass?

As soon as 110,000 or more points are earned within a calendar year your companion pass should start to be worked on. Most people find it’s not fully processed for 2-3 business days, calling Southwest to expedite might help.

Can my companion fly for free if I am not taking the flight?

No, you must be on any flight your companion takes for it to be free.

Are companion passes stackable? E.g, if the companion I designate also has a companion pass, do they fly for free?

No, this is not possible.

Do I need to keep the physical companion pass card with me for flights when I am flying with a companion?

Southwest’s official policy is that you do, but I don’t know of anybody who has ever had their pass checked. That being said, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Can you add a companion to a previously booked flight?

Yes you can add a companion to your flights at any stage, as long as there is still room on the aircraft. Although I’d avoid doing this too last minute as it might cause issues.



65 Responses to Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Southwest Companion Pass

  1. Sam says:

    I could use some help here. I applied for SW premier personal and biz card back in Oct when they were offering 50k. Got approved for personal but not for biz card as I already had 2 biz cards (bold and plus). I canceled one biz card last month (bold). Should I apply for SW biz card now?

    I did the min spend this month to trigger the 50k from personal card. On the other hand, I also have abt 120k in Marriott points. Should I transfer 20k points from UR to Marriott and get the remaining 50k SW points? Which one is more efficient?

    • Depends on how much you value your Marriott points I guess. Personally I’d apply for the business card again and if that fails go the Marriott route. You could also apply for the Ritz Carlton card which would give you enough Marriott points for an air + hotel package and enough Southwest points plus some free nights as well.

      • Sam says:

        Thanks – I have 7 hard inquiries on my account now. CS > 760. I already have 5 personal cards with Chase. Debating whether to apply both SW business card and Ritz Carlton or just one of them. Your thoughts?

        • Depends on how many Chase cards you’ve applied for recently I guess. If you’re going after the companion pass focus on the SW business, otherwise I’d probably get the Ritz Carlton.

          • Sam says:

            Yes – I am going for SW CP. So I will apply for SW biz card. My last chase app (1) was towards end of Oct last year. I will wait as close to end of this month and apply for biz card. Sounds good so far?

  2. Paul says:

    Just to make this thorough post super clear, the $10 fee mentioned at the beginning is simply the 9/11 fee, which means it is rarely $10 now days. It is not a $10 fee plus the 9/11 fee. On my shorter flights (~1 hour) I have paid less than $10.00 for my companion. Not sure why, but it was an odd amount between $5 & $10.

    I, or my companion, have never been asked to show the companion pass card sent to us right after they were selected.

    Lastly, the companion pass is only booked once the main individual purchases their ticket (with cash or points) and it has been processed. These means you cannot immediately book your companion pass after booking the initial flight. There is some lag time between the two events.

    Double lastly, wives get pissed when they have to share companion status with the mistress.

    • Thanks, Paul. Just reread it and your right, it didn’t read properly last time. I’ll do some investigation on how the security fee is calculated. I also included the information about having to wait for the booking to be processed.

  3. Rich says:

    William,

    I applied for both the premier personal/business in November. I was approved for the personal (attempted 3 times through reconsideration for business). I used to have the SW plus personal card and received the bonus on 3/22/13. Do I need to wait until then to apply for the card? I wasn’t sure if the 24 month rule was on applying or when you actually receive the bonus miles.

  4. Fernando says:

    One quick way to get those extra 6,000 points would be to get the Choice Privileges Visa from Barclays. You can get 8,000 Choice points with your first purchase and then 24,000 when you pay for your first stay with the card. That’d be cheaper than buying them outright. Of course, someone may or may not be willing to take a hard pull and new account, but if they were thinking about the card anyway and are working towards a Southwest Companion pass, then it’s kind of a no brainer. I might apply for both Southwest cards and the Choice card at the same time later this year. Too many recent inquiries now. :-\

  5. Audrey says:

    Do points earned from e-rewards count? I think I remember a post on Travel with Grant where he found out they did not?

    • Anybody able to find this? Pretty sure they do count.

    • Genevieve says:

      As of 9/15/2015, my e-Rewards points show as Companion Pass Qualifying when I filter it on the My Account section of southwest.com.

      • Kristi says:

        How long did it take for the e-Rewards points transfer to post to your Rapid Rewards account? I submitted my request yesterday- the email I received said 4-6 weeks, but that seems to be the old standard line and most things tend to post much more quickly nowadays.

  6. Another nice post, dude you are on a roll!

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  8. PedroNY says:

    Alright, best trick in the book to get these 6,000 additional points. Call Chase, ask to be transferred to retention team, they give out 3,000 per card, that’s standard offer. It worked for us for 3 years now. I wait 60 days from application date but that’s just my rule, not set in stone. Let’s see how fast this info gets on other blogs and if it changes, but I figured I’d share with your readers, you run a nice blog here.

    P.S. Cycle these cards every two years, but only cancel after your fist year bonus posts, that way you don’t even need to worry about additional 6,000 points as you will get 3k or 6k per card, depending on the card. Still call retention at 60 day mark, collect extra points. Fly your inlaws somewhere nice in US.

  9. PedroNY says:

    Best,

    PedroNY

  10. Corey says:

    One point that is wrong is the comment that Diners point do not count.
    They DO in fact count. Just actually transferred the needed 75,000 from Diners and got my companion pass.
    I can vouch for this with companion pass in hand.

  11. Mike H says:

    I’m struggling on which hotel to convert through… UR to Hyatt to SWA or UR + Marriott points to Flights & Nights to gain the CP.

    If I only go UR > Hyatt… I save my Marriott balances
    If I go Flights & Nights I at least get a week of hotel out of it (which I don’t have plans for today).

    Dilemma… any insight, please?

  12. Delionita says:

    I just tried to move my e reward points to Southwest but they are not offering that reward right now. FYI.

  13. Jay says:

    One thing that I want to mention is: I have a planned flight for March 2015. I applied for both SW Biz and Plus in Feb. I don’t have all 110k posted at the moment, however, by the time of the flight I should. I called customer service and they said that as long I earn the companion pass (110k) before the flight, I’ll get the points used for my companion refunded back.

  14. Rosey says:

    Can anyone verify Hyatt points transferred to SW DO count towards Companion Pass? Just want to be sure before I do it..! Seen some older posts from 2013 and 2014 so not sure if the rules have changed at all.

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  18. John says:

    Hi William, Just thought to drop a data point on Choice Points, they DO still count, I transferred 18,000 CPs into 5,400 RR points….don’t know why it wasn’t 7,200 RR points like your example. I…THINK I got 1,800 RR points per 6,000 CPs transferred….1800 times 3 is 5400…I checked my RR account and they are listed as companion pass qualifying points.

  19. Joel says:

    The wording on latest 1800Flowers-Southwest promos clearly states that it does not count toward Companion Pass. (Found this to be true on SW/1800flowers promo codes RR84 & RR92)

  20. John says:

    Joel, try promo code RR22, it is for 1K RR points and it’s terms state it counts toward the CP…I purchased a Valentine’s gift for my wife on this promo.

  21. DW says:

    Data point on Rocketmiles: My base 1000 pts from two weeks ago posted as CP eligible but the 3000 bonus points did not.

  22. DW says:

    @John, How long did it take for your Choice points to post on RR account?

    • John says:

      Hi, DW,
      About 2 weeks…..and it posted as companion pass qualifying points, only 5400 though…..have to get the other 600 other ways….am waiting for 1000 RR points to post for a Valentine’s Gift from 1800 Flowers to post, hasn’t yet, and we got the gift, but no points yet. Hope the info helps!

  23. DW says:

    John,

    Thanks for the info! Happy travels

  24. Eric says:

    I signed up for the RR Premier card on Jan 2, got approved and have spent my $2000 and have received the bonus 50,000 miles. Is it too soon to sign up for the Plus card? I have a referral that’ll give me 50,0000 points.

    I called earlier today and asked the lady from Chase the same question and she said I most likely wouldn’t get the bonus 50,000 points since I received it for the Premier card. I don’t want to waste an application if it won’t work, but, definitely want the companion pass!

    • Kristi says:

      No, it’s not too soon, and yes you will get the second sign up bonus, some of the customer service reps don’t understand their own rules.

      I applied for the Plus on 10/5/15 and the Premiere on 12/15/15. Both 50k sign up bonuses posted to my RR account on 1/19/16, their statement closing dates. The companion pass showed up on my account online on 1/20/16 and I received the email notification on 1/21/16.
      I’ll be using my companion pass on a flight on Saturday and have already made reservations for 3 more trips.

      The day I earned it was probably the most excited I had been in quite some time! 🙂

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  29. Frank says:

    I have referrals for both the Southwest Plus and the Southwest Premier card. Both of these come with a 50,000 point sign up bonus after hitting the $2000 minimum spend. This is an easy way to get the Southwest companion pass and after hitting the minimum spend on both cards you will have 104,000 of the 110,000 points needed. The current offer at Southwest is 40,000 points per card. Without the referral you would be missing out on an additional 20,000 points which will make it that much harder to get the companion pass.

    Here is the link for the Southwest Plus:

    https://applynow.chase.com/FlexAppWeb/renderApp.do?SPID=FHTS&CELL=63HB&MSC=1526257827

    And this is the link for the Southwest Premier:

    https://applynow.chase.com/FlexAppWeb/renderApp.do?SPID=FHV5&CELL=63HB&MSC=1526260153

    Yes I will get a referral bonus if you use my link. If you time it out right and have the points post to your account in January, you can have the companion pass for nearly 2 years. If you like to travel on the cheap, there is no better way to do it.

    Thanks

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  32. Judy says:

    Hi William,

    This is a great post – I keep up with your content daily and I always find something useful.

    I’m currently working toward 90k in spend on my SPG, so I can convert to 270k Marriott points and get the package deal + companion pass.

    Curious to know your thoughts on whether Southwest will disqualify Marriott travel packages from earning the companion pass in the near future? (4-5 months)

    Thank you for your help!

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  39. Joe Giorgianni says:

    I could use some help here. My wife has a Southwest Personal Plus card and her Rapid Rewards shows 62,337 points earned out of 110,000 for her Companion Pass. I was going to try and apply for a Southwest Business Premier card for her but the web page says “Unlimited points that don’t expire as long as your card account is open*” Once I get the Companion Pass I want to cancel the card to avoid the second $99 annual fee but don’t want her to lose her points.

    Or does any one have a Plus referral they can send me? Thanks!

  40. Joe Giorgianni says:

    I meant to say Premium referral.

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