The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is about the most valuable thing ever for those who want to travel for free with points and miles.
Companion Pass holders get to add someone to all of their reservations for just the cost of taxes and fees, typically $5.60 per domestic flight.
This year and in previous years, my wife and I have earned our passes by receiving the sign-up bonuses for both a personal and a small business credit card, plus a little extra spending.
Now that we’re in 2020, this is the perfect time to get your Companion Pass so it will be valid for nearly two years, until December 31st, 2021.
My Strategy for Getting the Southwest Companion Pass for 2020 And 2021
To get the Companion Pass next year, you’ll need to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.
As in years past, the easiest way to get the Companion Pass is to open up both business and personal Rapid Rewards credit cards from Chase. Here’s how it works:
Open a Southwest Rapid Rewards Small Business Credit Card
I’ve already applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business small business credit card that offers 70,000 points for spending $5,000 on new purchases within three months of account opening and an additional 30,000 points for spending $25,000 within six months.
You also earn 3x points for Southwest purchases and 2x points for spending on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable, and phone services. You earn one point per dollar spent elsewhere.
Benefits include four upgraded boardings per year and up to 365 credits each year toward in-flight Wi-Fi purchases (normally $8 each). You’ll also receive a $100 credit toward the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which includes PreCheck.
There’s a $199 annual fee for this card but you receive 9,000 free points each year you renew your membership. That’s worth around another $135 in free travel.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth about 1.5 cents each toward airfare, making this sign-up bonus by itself worth $1,500 in award travel, and that’s before you add your free companion.
Open a Rapid Rewards Personal Card
My next step is to apply for one of the personal Rapid Rewards cards, which currently offer welcome bonuses of 40,000 points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. You could start with the Rapid Rewards Plus card that has an annual fee of just $69.
Once you’ve spent the $1,000 necessary to earn the 40,000 point bonus on this card and the $25,000 to get the 100,000 point bonus on the business card you’ll have more than enough points to redeem for the Companion Pass.
What You Can Do With the Companion Pass
You can add your designated companion to any ticket in your name, including both paid and award tickets. It even works if someone else pays for the ticket or if someone else uses their points to book an award flight in your name. As long as it’s your name on the ticket, you can add your companion.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can add a companion, so this pass has nearly unlimited potential value. You can change your designated companion three times per calendar year, but just note that you must fly with your companion when he or she has a ticket.
Can You Qualify for a Small Business Credit Card?
Operating nearly any kind of business, no matter how small, can allow you to be approved for a small business credit card. This includes not just corporations and LLC’s, but also unincorporated sole proprietors.
So, if you babysit, drive for a ride sharing company or just sell stuff online, you can qualify for the small business credit card. If you don’t have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you can use your Social Security Number (SSN) instead.
A Quick Word About Credit Cards
The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is incredibly valuable, but you always have to look at the big picture before applying for a new credit card.
Money expert Clark Howard only recommends using rewards credit cards when you can avoid interest charges by paying off your entire statement balance every month. If having a credit card will cause you to make unnecessary purchases, then it’s best not to worry about them. For more information, read Clark’s philosophy on credit cards.