Every airline frequent flier program offers some sort of elite status to its best customers, but some airlines offer more a valuable status than others. Most of these programs offer their elites perks – like free checked bags, a waiver of some fees, and the opportunity to occasionally receive complimentary upgrades – to first class.
But if you haven't already heard, Southwest is a different kind of airline. It offers everyone two free checked bags, it has fewer fees than other airlines, and it only has one class of service on their aircrafts. And when it comes to offering an elite tier of its Rapid Rewards program, it offers travelers a unique benefit that no other airline does – unlimited free companion tickets. And better yet, it's possible to earn the companion pass for nearly two years without ever purchasing a single flight.
Earning the Companion Pass with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase
To receive Southwest Airline's Companion Pass, you need to earn 110,000 points within a calendar year. Fortunately, Chase offers three versions of their Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, each with a 50,000 point bonus after new cardholders spend $2,000 within three months of account opening. There is a personal and small business version of the Rapid Rewards Premier card with a $99 annual fee, and a personal version of the Rapid Rewards Plus card with a $69 annual fee.
To earn the Companion Pass without any travel, you can apply for both the business version and either version of the personal Rapid Rewards credit card. Then, you must complete the $2,000 minimum spending requirements for each card to earn a total of 104,000 points. Finally, you will be a mere 6,000 points from earning your Companion Pass, which you can do by spending a combined total of an additional $6,000 on either of your Southwest credit cards. Once you have completed these spending requirements, the points will be credited to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account shortly after your statements close.
How the Companion Pass Works
Once the total of 110,000 points have been credited to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account during a single calendar year, you will achieve Companion Pass status and be able to designate a companion who will be eligible to receive free airfare on any flight you are on. In fact, all flights are eligible, including award flights booked with your points or someone else's rewards, as well as flights purchased by yourself or someone else using any form of payment. If you are going, then your designated companion can always join you for free on some or all of your itinerary. The only expense that you are responsible for are the taxes and any mandatory government fees.
Furthermore, it's important to remember that you don't have to redeem the 110,000 points for the Companion Pass, you merely have to earn them in one calendar year. So these points can still be redeemed for award travel before or after you reach Companion Pass status. These points are worth approximately 1.4 cents each toward airfare in Southwest's lowest fare class called "Wanna Get Away," which means that these 110,000 points are worth approximately $1,540 toward flights, or over $3,000 when the free companion airfare is considered.
Points that you have already earned and redeemed for award travel during the calendar year still count toward your Companion Pass. Once earned, the Companion Pass is valid until the end of the following calendar year. So, the earlier in the year that you earn your Companion Pass, the longer you will be able to utilize it. For example, a person who earns his or her Companion Pass in January will receive nearly two years worth of use from it. Finally, you are allowed to change your designated companion up to three times per calendar year, although the old companion will not be able to fly for free with you on any subsequent reservations.
For fans of Southwest Airlines, there is no elite status worth more than their Companion Pass. By using the right credit card offers to earn Rapid Rewards points, you can achieve this valuable status and enjoy over $3,000 worth of free airfare.