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The highest-ever Southwest credit card offers can get you 90% of the way to the Companion Pass – one of the best deals in travel

FILE - In this March 23, 2019, file photo, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft lands at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the high desert town of Victorville, Calif.  The union president of Southwest Airlines pilots worries that Boeing may be rushing the 737 Max back into service, and he says Southwest should consider buying planes from another company.  The union president, Jon Weaks, adds that Boeing has exhibited arrogance and greed that will haunt the company forever.   (AP Photo/Matt Hartman, File)
The Southwest Companion pass can effectively double the value of your Southwest points.
(AP Photo/Matt Hartman, File)

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If you like flying Southwest, or if you’re simply a fan of excellent travel deals, you’ve probably heard of the Southwest Companion Pass. With it, you can bring a travel buddy with you on any paid or award flight for only the cost of taxes and fees.

You can earn it one of two ways:

  • Accrue 125,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year
  • Fly 100 eligible one-way flights in a calendar year

This makes the highest-ever welcome offers on all three Southwest personal credit cards even more compelling. With the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you can earn up to 100,000 points: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

The points from the bonus and from spending on these cards count toward earning the Companion Pass, so opening a card and earning the bonus is an easy way to achieve most of the requirement.

Open a new Chase Southwest card to earn the Companion Pass

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

For 2021, Southwest has deposited 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points into accounts that were active as of December 31, 2020. If you’re interested in earning the Companion Pass this year, you’ll only need to earn 100,000 more qualifying points.

However, it’s worth the extra effort to earn it in early 2022. That’s because the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn it as well as the entire following year. For example:

  • If you earn the Companion Pass now, it will be valid for up to 13 months (through December 31, 2022).
  • If you earn the Companion Pass in early 2022, it will be valid for nearly two years (through December 31, 2023).

In either case, you can earn most of the points required from one of the three personal Southwest credit cards. While all three Southwest cards received a benefits refresh, their main differences remain between their annual fees and account anniversary bonuses.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Annual fee

$99

$69

$149

Rewards rate

3x points on Southwest purchases

2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

1x point per dollar on everything else

2x points on Southwest purchases

2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

1x point per dollar on everything else

3x points on Southwest purchases

2x points on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases

2x points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare

2x points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming

1x point per dollar on everything else

Welcome bonus

80,000 points (50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ,and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months)

80,000 points (50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ,and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months)

80,000 points (50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ,and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months)

Southwest benefits

6,000 points on your card anniversary

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi

3,000 points on your card anniversary

Two EarlyBird Check-Ins per year

25% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi

7,500 points on your card anniversary

Earn tier-qualifying points toward A-List elite status

$75 annual Southwest travel credit

4 upgraded boardings per year when available

25% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi

Review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card review

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card review

In general, the best Southwest card for you depends on how often you plan to fly on Southwest Airlines. If you fly often, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card comes loaded with benefits like a yearly $75 travel credit on Southwest and priority boarding when available. If you’re a light or casual flyer, you’ll do fine with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card instead.

How to earn the remaining points you need for the Companion Pass

If you earn the full bonus on a Southwest personal card, you’ll have at least 112,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements. That leaves you 13,000 points shy of the Southwest Companion Pass.

To earn the remaining points, there are a few strategies:

  • Use the Southwest card for your everyday spending and all other bills and expenses – and boost your earning even more by making online purchases through the Southwest shopping portal.
  • Fly Southwest, where you’ll earn between 6 and 12 points per dollar, depending on the fare type.
  • Open a Southwest small-business credit card and earn its bonus.

The path of least resistance is through opening a Southwest small business card. By earning a bonus on both a personal and a small business card, you’ll have more than enough points to qualify for the Companion Pass. The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card offers Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. And the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Read more: Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business credit card review

You can qualify for business credit cards even if you’re a freelancer or run a small operation (think Uber or DoorDash driver). As long as you’re in business to make a profit, you have a chance of being approved.

What is the Companion Pass worth?

Southwest is largely a domestic airline, but they serve many fun destinations like Mexico, Aruba, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Costa Rica, etc. The value you’ll get from the Southwest Companion Pass depends entirely on how often you and your travel companion fly Southwest. You could easily save many thousands of dollars with this perk.

In general, Southwest points are worth roughly 1.4 cents each toward flights, based on Insider’s current points and miles valuations. At that valuation, 100,000 Southwest points are worth $1,400 in airfare. But the Companion Pass will effectively double the value of your points.

Read more: I earned 2 Southwest Companion Passes for my family this year without even traveling

Once you’ve successfully earned the 125,000 points necessary to qualify for the Companion Pass, you and your travel partner will have points worth at least $1,750 in Southwest flights (125,000 points x 1.4 cents each). The Companion Pass allows you to bring along another person for just the cost of taxes and fees, meaning you could potentially get $3,500 in flights ($1,750 x 2) from this bonus.

Bottom line

All three Southwest personal credit cards are currently offering highest-ever bonuses of up to 100,000 points after meeting tiered spending requirements. They couldn’t come at a better time, as they give you the opportunity to earn nearly 90% of the points necessary to achieve the Southwest Companion Pass in early 2022 – thus maximizing the amount of time you can use it.

These offers end December 7, 2021, so if you’re interested be sure to apply before that date.

Related Product Module: Related Product Credit CardsRelated Content Module: More Credit Card Coverage

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