Here’s how Sandra (aka Zuzu) got $4,363 of free flights in just 11 months with the Southwest Companion Pass.
In less than a year, Zuzu flew for free* with me on 10 Round Trip flights and another 3 one way flights island hopping on our February trip to Hawaii.
5 of those round trips were business trips for me. My company paid for my flight, hotel and rental car. Sandra came along for free. Here’s an example:
Free Flight to Miami & Key West
I had a 1 day meeting in Miami in April to work with one of our new sales reps. So that Zuzu & I could really enjoy the trip, I extended this into a 4 night trip. The highlights included:
- 2 nights in Key West
- 2 nights in Miami Beach
- Upgraded the rental car to a convertible for the drive from Miami to Key West
In Key West, we used Hyatt Points to get a free 2 night stay at the Hyatt Centric Key West. They even gave me a free upgrade to a larger corner room on the top floor.
We used Hyatt Points to get 1 free night at the Confidante Miami Beach and my company paid for 1 night.
My company would have paid for a 1 day rental for a car. We paid the $332 difference between a standard 1 day rental and the Mustang convertible for 4 days.
The rental car charge went on our Chase Sapphire Reserve® rewards card so we got ~1000 points for the rental.
Why was Sandra’s round trip flight to & from Miami free?
We got the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass by getting a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card before this trip.
Would we have thought of turning a quick work trip into a Key West vacation if not for the Southwest Companion Pass? Probably not.
What’s the SWA Companion Pass?
Probably the best airline credit card perk available, a Companion Pass allows 1 person (your designated Companion) to fly for free anytime that you fly on Southwest.
Sandra flies for free whether I’m paying for my Southwest ticket (on a business trip) or I’m flying for free with Rapid Reward points (which we do for vacation trips).
Can they really fly for free?
Well, it’s pretty close to free but not exactly free.
We have to pay $5.60 taxes on each 1 way leg of her flight. For this Miami trip, my RT ticket was $142 (which is pretty dang cheap) and we paid $11.20 for Sandra.
On the other end of the spectrum, our recent trip to Hawaii was $772 for me (except we paid for my flight with Rapid Rewards points) and Sandra still flew for $11.20 round trip.
The Companion Pass saved us $761 on that 1 trip.
How to get the Southwest Companion Pass?
There are 2 normal ways to get a Companion Pass.
- Fly 50 Round Trips (technically 100 1-way flights) on Southwest.
- Earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.
Both of those options get a “full” Companion Pass which is good through February of the following year. That means your Companion Pass will be valid for between 14 months and 25 months, depending on when it’s earned.
Earning the Southwest Companion Pass with Credit Cards
If you’re not going to fly 50 round trips on Southwest in a year, you can earn a full Companion Pass with credit cards to hit 125,000 Rapid Rewards points.
Personal Southwest Credit cards regularly come with welcome bonuses of 30-60,000 points. Click here to see the current offers. That can be a good chunk of your 125k goal.
If you have a business (which could be as simple as a side gig like occasional freelancing or selling on eBay), you could also get a Southwest Business credit card. SWA biz cards usually come with 60-80,000 point welcome bonuses.
Hypothetical Companion Pass Situation 1:
Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card and spend $1000 to get 40,000 points. You need another 85,000 RR points to get a full Companion Pass.
Spend another $10,000 on SWA flights to get 30,000 points.
Spend another $10,000 on hotels & rental cars who are SWA partners: 20,000 points.
Spend another $35,000 on anything else.
That’s 125,000 Rapid Rewards points & you’ve earned a Companion Pass!
Hypothetical Companion Pass Situation 2:
Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card and spend $1000 to get 40,000 points.
Get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Card, spend $5000 to get 80,000 RR points.
That’s 120k welcome offer points.
Plus you’ll get at least 1 point for the $6,000 that you already spent to hit the welcome bonuses.
Total: 126,000 points & you’ve earned the Companion Pass from Southwest!
Companion Pass Promotion
In 2022 & 2021, Southwest has also had a credit card promotion that offers a shorter Companion Pass duration.
Get any personal Southwest Rapid Rewards card, hit the minimum spend of $5,000 in 3 months and get a Companion Pass which expires the following February.
That will get you anywhere from 13 months to 8 months of free flights with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Quickest Way to get Companion Pass
The easiest way to get the SWA Companion Pass is to apply for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card when there’s a promo going on.
Recent promo run dates:
- 2023: Feb-March 19, 2023
- Good through Feb 28, 2024
- 2022: Feb-March 14, 2022
- Good through Feb 29, 2023
- 2021: Feb-March 10, 2021
- Good through Feb 28, 2022
This deal has expired. For reference, here’s the old, expired promo link but BE WARNED, I have no idea what will happen if you apply thru this link.
You’ll have to spend $4000 on the card in 3 months to get the Companion Pass. You’ll also get 30,000 Southwest Points which is worth about $420 of free travel on Southwest.
And full disclosure… if you click through my link on this page and get a credit card, I will get a refer a friend bonus. Recommending what I think is a fantastic deal like this is part of how WE GET TO TRAVEL now that we’re empty nesters.
Who Should Get the Southwest Companion Pass?
If you live near an airport where Southwest flies like Nashville and you want to travel, this is a great deal. You obviously need to have a willing travel companion like a significant other, family member or friend to designate as your compnaion.
Who Should NOT Get the Southwest Companion Pass?
First things first, if you can’t pay off a credit card on-time, every single month, DO NOT get any credit card. The interest and fees will quickly outpace any benefit that you get from this credit card (or from any other credit card).
If you don’t live near an airport with Southwest flights, it will be hard to get value from this.
If you won’t travel in the next year or you don’t have a willing traveling companion, you won’t get much value from this credit card offer.
Who Is Eligible for the Promo?
You can’t be a current cardholder of SWA Rapid Rewards card and get the promo. If you have a card, you might be able to cancel it and then apply for a new card to trigger the Companion Pass promo.
If you’ve not gotten a Companion Pass through the credit card promo in the past 24 months, you can get it through the promo again.
Limited Time Offer
Feb 2023: LIMITED TIME OFFER!!
Sorry to interrupt the story, but this is a BIG DEAL!
Once a year, there’s a huge deal and it’s happening NOW! Get a Southwest credit card, spend $4,000 on the card within 3 months and you get a FREE 1 YEAR Companion Pass!
If you take advantage of this offer, choose a companion and they fly for free every time that you fly on SWA!
Now back to the blog post about how Zuzu & I got $4,364 of free flights….
If you want to get the Companion Pass on the Promo offer, it’s not too late. This offer expires on 3/19/2023.
They’ll probably have a similar offer next year but there’s no guarantee of that.
The best way to get the Southwest Companion Pass is to apply for both a personal and business credit card by clicking this link.
And I’d really appreciate it if you click my referral link when you apply for this credit card. You’ll get the same deal from Southwest & Chase no matter what, but I only get their referral bonus if you click through one of the links on this page when you apply.
If you do, thanks for helping Sandra and me to keep making memories as We Get To Travel!