The Southwest Companion pass has undoubtedly long been the most valuable companion ticket benefit of any airline program and it continues to be so in 2020. The key value lies in the fact that this benefit is repeatable an unlimited number of times and it is not subject to availability of any special fare class. As long as there is a seat available for sale on the plane, a Southwest Companion pass holder can add his/her companion to their reservation and pay only the taxes ($5.60 one-way on domestic flights within the US), and that is true whether the primary traveler’s ticket was bought with cash or with Rapid Rewards points. If you travel in a pair from an airport served by Southwest, it is hard to ignore the value of this pass.

Earning the pass

January 2017 Month in Review

In order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, a Rapid Rewards member must earn 125,000 qualifying Southwest Rapid Rewards points within a single calendar year. Once the member has earned 125,000 points, the companion pass will be valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which it is earned and all of the following year. For example, if you earn your 125,000th point on July 1st, 2020, your Companion pass will be valid until December 31st, 2021.  Therefore, earning the pass as early in the calendar year as possible will enable a member to maximize the length of validity of the Southwest Companion Pass.

Keep in mind that all qualifying points must post in the same calendar year (i.e. January through December of the same year). The timing of points earned is therefore of utmost importance. Consider the following two examples:

Example 1: Morgan

  • Morgan earned 65,000 points in January
  • Morgan earned 60,000 points the following month in February
  • Morgan earned a Companion Pass (125,000 points earned in a single calendar year)

Example 2: Jamie

  • Jamie earned 65,000 points in December
  • Jamie earned 60,000 points the following month in January
  • Jamie did not earn a Companion Pass (while Jamie has earned 125,00 points, they were not in the same calendar year)

While both Morgan and Jamie earned 125,000 points within two consecutive months, Jamie would not have a Companion Pass because the points didn’t post in the same calendar year.

Shortcuts to a Southwest Companion Pass: Which points qualify

There are many ways to earn Companion Pass qualifying points. Rapid Rewards points earned from flying and those earned from the Southwest credit cards (including from signup bonuses) count towards the 125,000 points necessary. Most points earned through the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal count towards the companion pass as do those from partners like rental car agencies.

In practice, we have found that the following things do count:

  • Paid flight activity
  • Points earned from credit card spend, including the signup bonus
  • Points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal (however, seasonal bonuses from the portal do not count)
  • Most (but not all) points earned from partners

Are there any shortcuts to earning a Southwest Companion Pass? What is the easiest way to earn a companion pass? As of January 2020, there are several main shortcuts that work. Keep in mind that you do not need to earn all of the points from a single source — mix and match points from each of these shortcuts as you please.

Credit card bonuses

Chase frequently offers valuable welcome bonus points for signing up for their Southwest cards and meeting the minimum spend. There are several versions of the Southwest credit cards. In terms of consumer/personal credit cards, there are three: the Premier, Plus, and Priority cards.  On the business side, there is the Premier Business and the Performance Business. Welcome bonuses on these cards increase and decrease throughout the year and have historically ranged from 40,000 points to 80,000 points, which means that it is often possible to earn enough points for a companion pass, or very close to it, by opening two credit cards and meeting the minimum spending requirements. Here is current offer information on each of the Southwest credit cards:

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