How to Score a Southwest Companion Pass and up to $6K in Free Flights

Double-down on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, obtaining both a personal and a business card to earn a Companion Pass and free flights valued up to $6,000.

How to Score a Southwest Companion Pass and up to $6K in Free Flights

With carefully timed applications, you could land Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass for 2022 and 2023 and score up to $6,000 in free flights.

Photo by Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock

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Southwest recently enhanced the benefits on its line-up of five Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Credit Cards and launched its best-ever introductory points offer: up to 100,000 points on its personal cards. This bonus alone is an excellent reason to consider getting a card.

However, those looking to fully capitalize on the current offer should consider getting a business card in addition to a personal card. It may come as a surprise to some, but the truth is you don’t need a big firm to get a business card—a sole proprietorship, single-member LLC, or the like will do. You can even apply with your Social Security number as a sole proprietor for a startup or small venture (versus an EIN—Employer Identification Number—often used for larger businesses).

While you can’t have two different personal cards or two different business cards, the same individual can have both a personal and a business card. With these two applications timed correctly, you could land Southwest’s coveted Companion Pass® for 2022 and 2023 and score up to $6,000 in free flights (for just $348 in annual fees.) Here’s how to double-down on current Southwest credit card offers, first by getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, followed by the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. (Disclaimer: This is an advanced points’ strategy post and may be exhausting for beginners or those who hate math.)

Apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card and start working toward a Companion Pass

To start, go for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. This is one of the personal cards with a current welcome offer of up to 100,000 Rapid Rewards points—50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 50,000 points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months.

Focus on earning the first half of the current welcome bonus: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership. Note that you’ll want to get the card now because of the limited-time welcome offer, but you won’t want to hit that $2,000 spend threshold until after January 1, 2022. Why? Because earning a Companion Pass requires 100 qualifying one-way flight segments or amassing 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year and welcome bonuses count as qualifying points toward that 125,000 requirement. Also, the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn it and the following calendar year. So you want to bank your initial 50,000 bonus in 2022.

Apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, land a Companion Pass, and revel in your points balance

In the coming weeks, also get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card (if you aren’t good at remembering, put it on your calendar). Be sure to spend $5,000 within the first three months of having the card, but don’t reach that threshold until 2022 hits. You’ll earn a welcome bonus of 80,000 points. Together with the initial bonus from the Southwest Priority card, that’s 130,000 points. Ding, ding, ding: You’ve now scored a Companion Pass, which is good for the rest of 2022 and all of 2023!

Since you had to spend $2,000 to reach the Priority card bonus and $5,000 to reach the Performance Business card bonus, that means at least 137,000 points in your Rapid Rewards account plus a coveted Companion Pass. Given current redemption rates between 1.3 to 1.45 cents per point on Southwest flights, 137,000 points is valued between $1,780 and $ 1,987. Now double those values since the Companion Pass allows a companion to fly with you for free, every time (they just have to pay the mandatory taxes). We’re up to free flights on Southwest valued between $3,562 to $3,973.

Earn a whole lot more points throughout 2022 and 2023

Fast forward to spring 2022. You have your Companion Pass and lots of points to burn. Now it’s time to return to spending on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. Recall that with the current sign-up incentive, you will get another 50,000 points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months (so that’s $10,000 more than you already spent to get the initial bonus).

Use this card as your primary card throughout 2022 and spend $10,000 by your 12-month card anniversary, and you’ll bank another 60,000 points (50,000 bonus plus a minimum of 10,000 for spending). Those are 60,000 more points valued between $780 and $870 toward Southwest flights. Double them with the Companion Pass and add to the point values calculated upon achieving the companion pass, and we’re looking at $5,122 to $5,173.

But hold on—we’re not done yet. With the benefits of both cards, you’ll get a total of eight EarlyBird Check-Ins per year. That’s 16 over two years, worth at least $240. (Early boarding costs $15–$25 one-way per passenger, depending on flight route.) You’ll also get “thank you” account anniversary bonus points of 16,500 between both cards each year (7,500 for the Priority and 9,000 for the Performance Business). These annual bonuses are valued between $215 and $240, then doubled if used with Companion Pass, amounting to $430 to $480 over two years. In addition, you’ll receive complimentary Wi-Fi thanks to the Performance Business Card (which costs $8 per flight day) and a $75 credit on Southwest thanks to the Priority Card. Add it all up, and we’re now looking at over $6,000 in free flights and perks by simply getting these two Southwest-branded credit cards.

We’ll see you—and your travel companion—on board!

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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