Photo by Stephen M. Keller, courtesy of Southwest Airlines
There are only two days left to sign up for one of Southwest Airlines’ credit card Companion Pass offers and nearly a year of two-for-one travel.
There are only two days left to earn a Companion Pass with one of these Southwest Airlines credit card welcome offers.
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Note: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. For current information on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, click here. For current information on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, click here. For current information on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, click here.
Last month, three of Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards credit cards launched one of the best introductory bonus offers they have ever extended to new cardholders. That deal expired on Wednesday (March 10).
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card all offered new applicants the chance to earn the airline’s valuable Companion Pass® good through February 28, 2022, plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
A Companion Pass is basically a two-for-one ticket on both paid and reward travel that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on how much you fly Southwest.
To earn one, you’ve normally got to take 125 qualifying one-way flights or rack up 125,000 qualifying points (through flying and credit card spending, for instance) within a calendar year, so this is a massive shortcut. If you’ve been thinking about taking advantage of these deals, now is your last chance to do so since they will only be around for two more days. Given how rarely Southwest and Chase have posted similar terms for these cards, we might never see something like this again. Here’s what you need to know, and what made these particular offers so special.
Yes, the three cards have strikingly similar (and alliterative) names, and they are all offering the same bonus terms. Here is what makes each one unique.
Semi-regular Southwest fliers will get the most out of this credit card. Its annual fee is the lowest of the three, but it still racks up the same number of points on the same types of purchases as the other two versions. Remember that Southwest doesn’t charge passengers for up to two checked bags each, and the airline’s boarding procedure does not prioritize (most) cobranded credit cardholders, either, so you’re not missing out by applying for this card instead of one of the more expensive products.
For $30 extra per year, this card comes with a few more anniversary bonus points and the opportunity to spend at least part of your way toward A-List elite status and some enhanced day-of-travel treatment. If you fly Southwest almost enough to achieve status on your own, you might opt for this card instead and use your everyday purchases to get you all the way there.
If you fly Southwest frequently and are looking to improve your flight experience, this card can’t be beat. Sure, the annual fee is much higher, but you get a lot more benefits. The most important are the annual $75 Southwest travel credit and 7,500 bonus points; either or both can go a long way toward some free travel. Each upgraded boarding is worth $30–$50 depending on the flight, so that’s a lot of value right there, too.
Of course, the main reason to apply for any of these cards right now is to earn Southwest’s Companion Pass, one of the most valuable airline benefits in the world.
Unlike many other airline companion tickets, the Companion Pass is relatively straightforward and easy to use. It’s essentially a buy-one-get-one free voucher that’s good for (nearly) a whole year in this case, depending on how fast you hit that minimum-spending threshold. Once you do earn it and register a companion, you can book them onto the same flights as yourself and just pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket. Almost incredibly, there’s no limit to the number of times your companion can fly with you. You can apply it to either paid tickets or those reserved using Southwest Rapid Rewards points . . . like the 30,000 you can earn with these bonus offers, which are worth around $400 toward the airline’s cheapest Wanna Get Away fares.
There are no special hoops to jump through or restricted fare classes, either. Basically, if there are two seats for sale on your flight and you can pay for one with either money or Rapid Rewards points, you can snag the other using your Companion Pass. The two seats don’t even have to be on sale for the same price or booked at the same time. You could theoretically reserve a cheap seat for yourself ahead of time and then add your companion to the reservation later as long as there are still seats for sale.
What’s more, anyone can be your companion, not just a family or household member. Though you do have to designate a specific companion before booking anything using the pass, you can change that person up to three times per calendar year after your initial choice. That’s up to four potential companions per year—one at a time, of course. Before naming a new companion, you’ll have to cancel any upcoming reservations for your old companion (though you can keep your own ticket on those reservations).
Once you qualify for the Companion Pass, you’ll need to activate it by logging into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and entering your first companion’s identification details. After that, you can search for flights as usual. Before you book anything, be sure that there are at least two seats for sale on your flight. You wouldn’t want to snag the last one and not be able to bring your buddy along, after all.
If you find what you want, you can simply click a link to “Add Companion,” and enter their information for the second ticket then pay any associated taxes and fees. Alternatively, you can call Southwest directly to add a companion to any reservations you might have booked solo, including those reserved through online travel agencies like Expedia or Travelocity.
Just note that your companion must be flying on the same reservation and the same flights as you. If you cancel your ticket, your companion’s ticket will also be canceled, and if you change your flight, you’ll also have to change your companion’s.
Still not convinced this is a good deal? You might not be flying much right now, or plan to do so before this Companion Pass expires. But you can reap tremendous value from a Companion Pass with just a few flights before the end of next February.
Sure, Southwest doesn’t have luxurious first-class cabins or the glamorous international route networks of other airlines like Delta and United, but that’s exactly what makes this offer so timely. The airline has one of the most robust flight maps of any carrier within the continental U.S. as well as to Hawaii and nearby international destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean. Even as more folks get vaccinated and more countries open their borders to international travelers, chances are most of us will be sticking close to home for the rest of 2021. So now might be the exact right time to give Southwest some more of your attention and travel dollars to explore the places it does fly.
Not only that, but as more people become less hesitant to begin booking travel again—and searches (as well as prices) are probably going to skyrocket for summer travel soon—having a two-for-one ticket in your back pocket can amount to tremendous savings.
Let’s say you live in the Bay Area and want a Hawaiian vacation over the summer. Tickets are starting at around $160 on the outbound and $210 on the return between Oakland and either Maui or Honolulu in July and August. With just one round-trip, you’re looking at saving $370 on your companion ticket, on a single vacation. Even for quick hops within your own region, you can save hundreds of dollars on each trip. The more you use the Companion Pass, the more you save, and those savings are potentially mind-boggling.
Any of these three offers is well worth applying for if you think you will be able to spend enough to earn the Companion Pass and then actually use it to fly Southwest in the coming year. If you’re trying to decide among the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, or Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority, just think about the following.
Which card’s benefits will you get the most out of? Infrequent fliers might only need the pared-down perks the Plus offers, while oft-traveling road warriors might be better able to take advantage of the Priority’s upgraded boardings and in-flight discounts. Just be sure that you’ll get more worth from a particular card’s benefits than you will pay for its annual fee. Any of these three cards is currently presenting the opportunity to reap incredible value from both bonus points and a Companion Pass if you can hit the spending requirements, though, so you can’t really go wrong.
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.
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