Courtesy of Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines
A Companion Pass lets your plus-one fly for free for an entire year.
Fly with a friend for free for a year—and earn 30,000 bonus points—with limited-time welcome offers from Southwest, ending March 14, 2022.
AFAR partners with CreditCards.com and may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Compensation may impact how an offer is presented. Our coverage is independent and objective, and has not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of the AFAR editorial team.
The Southwest Companion Pass gets a lot of attention—and for good reason. It is essentially a voucher good for unlimited two-for-one travel on both paid and award tickets on Southwest Airlines.
Currently, three of Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards credit cards boast introductory offers in which you’ll score a coveted Companion Pass (valid until February 28, 2023) and earn 30,000 Rapid Rewards points, after spending $5,000 in the first three months. That’s a huge payoff for simply signing up for and using a credit card.
Unfortunately, this excellent limited-time opportunity ends March 14, 2022. Here’s why you should consider a Southwest credit card right now and be on your way to flying with a plus-one for (nearly) free for almost an entire year.
There are many reasons to be excited over Southwest’s current offers.
First, Southwest’s Companion Pass allows pass holders to fly Southwest with a companion for free (besides mandatory taxes). Earning a Companion Pass typically requires 100 qualifying one-way flight segments or amassing 125,000 qualifying points. The current welcome bonus presents an almost too-good-to-be-true fast track.
Second, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are loosely pegged to a dollar value—each point is worth between 1.3 to 1.45 cents when redeemed for the airline’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares. That means that a 30,000 Rapid Rewards points bonus is worth approximately $390–$435 on Southwest flights. Cha-ching! What’s more is that award tickets are also compatible with the Companion Pass, so you could book one seat using points and then use your pass for the other one, essentially doubling the value of the bonus to $780–$870.
Third, excellent new benefits, launched in late 2021, have been bundled into Southwest’s branded cards. Depending on the card, these benefits may include bonus points for eligible spending in select categories, passes for complimentary EarlyBird Check-In on Southwest flights (pending availability), anniversary bonuses, and discounts on in-flight drinks. (Note: Limited drink service, which has been the case since March 2020, is finally over. As of February 16, 2022, Southwest’s full beverage selection returned, including alcohol for purchase.) And though not a cardholder benefit, let’s not forget that Southwest does not and never has charged baggage fees for the first two checked bags under 50 pounds apiece.
All three Southwest personal cards—Plus, Premier, and Priority—have the exact same limited-time welcome offer: Earn a Companion Pass valid through February 28, 2023, plus 30,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months. The difference between each card lies simply in the annual fee and package of benefits.
All three credit cards award two points per dollar spent on local transit and commuting purchases (including rideshares), internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases. However, the three cards grant different earnings on Southwest Airlines purchases and promise different annual benefits, such as account anniversary bonuses. Below are the three personal cards with the most pertinent information and benefits.
With the lowest annual fee, this rewards card still packs in the points.
A higher-end version with a higher annual fee and better benefits.
This is the most premium personal credit card Southwest offers, with some additional benefits to match.
The chance to earn a coveted Companion Pass as part of a credit card sign-up should not be taken lightly. This is a BOGO for every Southwest flight taken over the next year, an offer almost too good to be true. Then, the opportunity to also rake in 30,000 points, all with a relatively low spending threshold, is phenomenal.
In terms of passenger load, Southwest is the third largest airline in the United States, with only Delta Airlines and American Airlines carrying more passengers in 2021. The airline services over 120 destinations, with a truly robust route network of flights both within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and to nearby international destinations, including Mexico, Aruba, Belize, and Costa Rica. In fact, Southwest now reaches 11 countries.
If you plan on traveling over the next year, whether domestically or internationally, even just a few times, having a Companion Pass in your back pocket could amount to tremendous savings. Additionally, since Southwest has no change or cancellation fees, you can keep your plans fluid. The no-fee policy extends to award tickets and the Companion Pass.
Right now, any personal card is a smart choice. Which one you choose depends on how much you value the earnings structure and primary benefits versus the annual fee. With this current promotion, we favor the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, which carries a nominal $69 annual fee but still yields tremendous value. (Put in perspective, $69 is roughly the same amount you’d pay for one checked bag, round-trip on a legacy carrier.)
In summary, thanks to these offers, there’s never been a better time to apply for Southwest credit cards. However, as all good things must come to an end, these limited-time bonuses will disappear after March 14, 2022. So seize this opportunity while it lasts and enjoy almost an entire year with a travel companion by your side—at no cost.
This article was originally published in February 2021; it was updated in February 2022, and again on March 7, 2022, with current information. 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.
Sign up for the Daily Wander newsletter for expert travel inspiration and tips
Please enter a valid email address.
more from afar