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This should come as no surprise for anyone (particularly parents) but having a busy travel schedule and a toddler presents unique travel challenges.
Previously, I could book a vacation with my wife and the only consideration would be my wife’s calendar. In the rare instances that I was traveling solo (e.g. work, conferences, etc.), I would return within 24-48 hours so this would rarely affect our family calendar.
However, with an infant – and I assume a child of any age – travel becomes a bit more complicated.
We were only able to accomplish our family BUSINESS CLASS TRIP TO HAWAII with the Southwest Companion Pass.
WHAT IS THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS?
Hand down….the Southwest Companion Pass (SWACP) is the best deal available in the travel world and a highly coveted perk for air travel aficionados.
So why is this perk highly coveted? Because owning the pass is, essentially, a 2-for-1 deal on every Southwest flight you book. You read that correctly…BOGO! Every time you buy a flight (or redeem points for a flight), you can choose another person (the companion) to fly with you for free and there is no limit to the amount of flights that you can use it on. The only limitation is….your vacation time.
HOW TO EARN THE COMPANION PASS
To qualify for the SWACP, you need to complete one of the following:
- Option #1: Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year; or
- Option #2: Earn 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.
Exploring option #1: 100 one-way flights is A LOT of flying. #hardpass
Exploring option #2: 125,000 is A LOT of points to accumulate….UNLESS YOU KNOW THE FAST-TRACK OPTION!
THE FAST TRACK OPTION
Chase Bank offers various Southwest Airlines credit cards.
Personal Credit Cards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn up to 75,000 points. Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
Business Credit Cards
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
If you’re doing the math…75,000 points from ONE CREDIT CARD is 60% of the way towards the companion pass. Meeting the minimum spend on two of these will easily get you the companion pass.
Here’s an added bonus…once you earn the SWACP, it is valid for the remainder of that calendar year AND for the entire following year. That means if you can earn 125,000 points in January of a given year, you will have the SWACP for almost 2 full years.
There is one caveat to this equation. As of January 2019, you cannot get a second personal credit card if:
- You are a current Southwest consumer credit cardholder; or
- You have earned a new cardmember bonus on a Southwest consumer credit card in the last 24 months
However, you can get one personal card and one business card to help reach the 125,000 point baseline for the companion pass.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
The key here is that you want the points to post as as soon as possible to maximize how long your have the pass.
Ideally, this would be your plan:
- Apply for one personal AND one business card in November or December
- Complete the minimum spend after your December statement closes so the bonus posts in January
- …earn a shiny new Companion Pass to go along with the New Year!
But now that we’re in the new year, let’s make the most of it and start now.
WHERE DOES SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FLY?
Where do you do you want to go….Aruba? Mexico City? Cabo San Lucas? Costa Rica? Turks and Caicos? Or, simply, to visit family in another state?
I can understand why most people in the travel community consider this a jewel.
Just think about it for a second…every time you book a ticket, your “companion” (i.e your mom, your dad, Bae, your cousin, etc.) flies for free. The only fees you have to pay are the mandatory Southwest taxes ($5.60 per flight segment within the USA). And even with a connection, you’ll only pay $11.20 for your companion to fly across the country with you. That’s AMAZING!
In my case, that last two years have been extremely lucrative because I selected my wife as my companion and my daughter is less than 2 years old, so she’s been flying for free as a lap child.
Yes, that was technically a 3-for-1 for us flying from Hawaii. CHA-CHING!!
PRO TIP: Southwest has many fare sales throughout the year. Often, their flights can be as low as $39 during a sale. It’s hard to beat $39 (and/or using some of the nearly 150,000 points you’ve accumulated).
So, is the Southwest Companion Pass as awesome as they say? Yes, yes it is!!
Does anyone else have the Southwest Companion Pass? What has been your experience?