Having heard us talked about this hobby for so long, Tran’s parents also wanted to join this game. In early June, Chase increased the sign-up bonuses for the Southwest cards. It was a perfect opportunity for my in-laws to start applying for cards to obtain the Southwest companion pass.
What is a companion pass?
It allows you take a companion with you for the cost of taxes and fees (usually $11.20 r/t) whenever you fly with Southwest, either on a paid or an award ticket. It’s truly the best and cheapest way for two people or a family of four to fly domestically. The designated companion can be changed up to 3x per year.
How to qualify for a Southwest companion pass?
There are 2 ways to qualify, either fly 100 segments (flights) on Southwest or earn 110,000 points in a calendar year. Even as a road warrior, I would have a difficult time doing the first option so the latter choice is much easier, especially with the increased credit card sign-ups. The pass is valid from the date you earn 110,000 points up to the end of the next calendar year! The earlier you start, the longer you’ll get to fly for cheap.
How to time the spending requirement in order to get almost 2 years of free (cheap) flying?
The points generally post soon after the statement on which you meet the minimum spending requirement is closed. To maximize almost 2 years of free flying, you would want to wait until the December statement closes to finish meeting the requirement.
The offers for personal cards end on 10/4. If you apply by 10/2 and are approved, you have until ~December 26th to meet the spending requirement. The 90 days start on the day of your approval, not when you receive your card, which can be several weeks later. Each person has different statement closing dates so make sure you know your closing date to time the spending correctly. For example, if the closing date falls on the 21st of each month, then you should wait until 12/22 but before 12/26 to meet the rest of requirement. That way, your points wouldn’t post until at least January 21st and would have the Companion Pass for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019.
Which cards should you apply for?
Chase offers 2 personal Southwest cards and 1 business version.
- Southwest Premier: AF $99, earn 60,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening the account. It also comes with a 6,000 point renewal bonus on your account anniversary.
- Southwest Plus: AF $69, earn 60,000 points after $2,000 in 3 months. You will receive 3,000 points with each calendar year.
- Southwest Business: AF $99, earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in 3 months.
If you have 5 or more new accounts opened in the past 24 months, Chase will reject your application(s). These bonuses are also unavailable if you currently have that card, or have received a bonus for it in the past 24 months. If under 5/24, you can only apply for 2 Chase cards every 30 days so either you apply for 1 personal and 1 business or 2 personal at once. The normal sign-up bonus is usually 40,000 points per card so this is an awesome deal.
My MIL (mother-in-law) applied for 2 personal cards simultaneously. Unfortunately, my husband forgot to mention that she needed to type in her Southwest account number on the applications. Consequently, Chase created two accounts for her. When I visited a couple of weeks ago, I helped her contact Southwest and Chase to combine the 2 accounts. Please make sure to create a Southwest account prior to applying or it would be time consuming to correct this mistake.
Anyway, my MIL recently completed the minimum spending using our advice. I logged into her account and the front page showed this:
I clicked on “enter companion info” and filled in my FIL’s information.
I then helped her book a r/t flight to Chicago using points. She paid $11.20 in taxes and fees. Once that reservation was created, I went back to her main page. Under the reservation was the option to “add a companion.” I clicked on that and Dad also only had to pay $11.20 in taxes and fees.
Overall, the total cost for 2 people was $22.40 and 14,223 points. Where can two people travel domestically for that price?
Tran and I definitely regret not knowing about this when we first started. We could’ve flown for dirt cheap domestically on Southwest and in premium classes internationally using other miles. Now we are way beyond 5/24 and are not slowing down anytime soon. Fortunately, my current job subsidizes 80-90% of my personal travels.
This Southwest companion pass is really good for couples (one person takes turn applying) or a family of four (2 parents applying). Our plan is to have his dad apply for the cards in early 2019 so they could continue having the pass until 2020 then his mom would apply again. If they alternate, they could potentially have the companion pass for a long time, until Chase starts changing the rules, which I’m sure will come eventually. As for my FIL’s first card, we had him apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. *
UPDATE: The offers are no longer available to aid in getting a Southwest companion pass. If you’re interested in getting 40,000 points per card then please use my MIL’s referral links.
Southwest Premier: Receive 40,000 miles after 1k spend
Southwest Plus: Receive 40,000 miles after 1k spend
*We don’t have affiliate links but if you apply through our referral links and if approved, we would earn points too. Thank you.