I’ve been “travel hacking” for about 2 years now, and I have finally gotten one of the most coveted items in the credit card reward world: THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS! (I’m already planning our free trips around the world!)
If you’re new to travel hacking, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Travel Hacking first!
The Southwest Companion Pass is essentially a buy 1, get 1 free ticket. Anywhere you fly, you can designate a companion to fly with you for free. YOU HEARD ME, FREE PLANE TICKETS PEOPLE. The savings potential on this type of travel reward is HUGE, and I’ll let you know exactly how I got it and why you need it.
HOW TO GET THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS
FOUR KEY COMPANION PASS NOTES:
THE PASS IS VALID FOR 1-2 YEARS
The pass is valid for the remainder of the year you earn it, along with the entire length of the next year. For example, I earned the pass July 2016, so it’s valid until the end of 2017.
THE PASS HAS UNLIMITED USAGE
As long as there are available seats, you can always use the companion pass! No blackout dates, and very minimal restrictions. I can buy as many tickets as I want between now and 2017, and my companion can come along free each and every single time!
THE PASS REALLY IS FREE
I know free plane ticket are a hard thing to believe, but it’s true! The only thing you’ll pay on a “free ticket” are the minor taxes/fees ($10 for domestic flights, about $75 for international), but that’s completely worth it!
THE PASS IS VALID ON PAID & NON-PAID TICKETS
Not only is the companion pass valid on tickets purchased monetarily, but they are also valid on tickets redeemed with points! In my strategy to get my companion pass, I managed to get over 110,000+ points as well. When I redeem those points for my plane tickets, I can simply add on my companion. Boom, free tickets for everyone!
SO, HOW DID I GET THE COMPANION PASS?
There are 2 ways to earn the Southwest Companion pass:
1. Take 100 qualifying one-way Southwest flights in a calendar year
2. Earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year.
The latter is the easiest and most common way to earn the pass, and that’s exactly what I did. In one night I signed up for 2 Southwest credit cards, the Southwest Premier Credit Card and Southwest Business Credit Card. (*Note: I do freelance marketing and make money online, which would qualify me for a business credit card. Not sure if you would qualify? Here’s a good article regarding applying for business credit cards.)
There are 3 different cards available at the moment and sign-up bonuses vary on card/per time of year, but when I signed up each card offered a 50,000 point signing bonus. This is what you want! 2 sign up bonuses of 50,000 each give you 100,000 points.
Each card has it’s minimum spending to reach the bonus; it’s currently at $2,000 within the first 3 months per card. After getting both cards and reaching the minimum spend, you’ll have 104,000 points, meaning you only need 6,000 more to reach that 110,000 point threshold.
You have an entire calendar year to reach 110,000 points, but remember the sooner you get it, the longer you have to use it. I also specifically focus on credit card spend, but you can also get points by other means such as flying, etc.
After reaching that 110,000 point threshold, I was able to designate my companion (my husband is lucky guy lol!), and my companion pass was sent in the mail. I can now use those 110,000 points and the pass to get free flights for both my husband and I! (Also note, you can change your companion up to 3 times.)
WHAT CAN YOU GET WITH 110,000+ POINTS?
***Obviously redemptions vary on date of travel and availability, but here are some examples I found.
From Los Angeles, California to LaGuardia, New York: 17,330 points roundtrip and $22.40 in fees for 2 people with the pass! (Compared to paying $608+ fees for the same flight!)
From Houston, Texas to Belize City, Belize: 14,256 points roundtrip and $122.62 in fees for 2 people with the pass! (Compared to paying $598.82 for the same flight!)
From Orlando, Florida to Aruba: 19,584 points roundtrip and $139.12 in fees for 2 people with the pass! (Compared to paying $763.32 for the same flight!)
While Southwest currently doesn’t fly out of Hawaii, we plan to do many domestic flights within the US and international trips from the US. Keep a look out for our future posts on putting the pass to use!
Have you ever flown on Southwest? Where would you go with the pass? (We’ve never flown on Southwest yet but have heard good things!)