Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks – Everything You Need to Know

This post may contain affiliate links; please read our advertiser disclosure for more information.
Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Links in this post may provide us with a commission.

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Since there will be many newly minted Southwest Companion Pass holders very soon with the new Chase Southwest credit card offers I thought a guide was in order.  Here are some Southwest Companion pass tips & tricks. These should ensure you get the most value out of your newly minted discount flying tool!

Update 12/7/21: The 100K personal card offers end sometime later today or tomorrow. Remember that many above 5/24 are getting approved for these cards as well.

What Is The Southwest Companion Pass?

When you have a companion pass you can designate someone to fly for free with you on every Southwest flight.  This includes cash flights or award flights, all you need to do is pay the taxes and fees for your companion. Those are $5.60 each way for domestic travel and around $100 or so roundtrip for international flights.

You can change your designated companion up to 3 times per year, not including your first designation. Your companion flies with you for only the cost of taxes as long as there is a seat, no matter the cost of the ticket!

How Do You Earn The Southwest Companion Pass

To qualify for a companion pass, you can fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. You’ll earn the Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it. It is possible to earn it for close to 24 months, but only if you time it right. 

First off, taking 100 flights is not feasible for people who don’t travel for work.  Earning 125,000 Rapid Rewards points is a tall task too but there is a workaround. Credit card welcome offers count towards the 125,000 points needed. If you apply for a Southwest personal card and business card when the welcome offers are high that can get you the points needed.

If you are unable to get a business card there are other ways to earn points to reach the 125,000 point threshold.  You can pair these earning methods with a personal card welcome offer to make it a bit easier to achieve.


Here is a list of other earning methods that work towards the 125,000 point total:
  • Flying – earn 6 points per dollar on wanna get away fares
  • Use your Southwest credit card for 1 point per dollar.  This is only advisable if you are shooting for a companion pass.
  • Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal
  • Use the Rapid Rewards dining club
  • Booking hotels or car rentals on
  • Credit card referral points (up to 10,000 points per referral)
  • Credit card anniversary bonus points (3,000-7,500 points per year depending on card)
  • Some Rocketmiles bookings count as well

Using Southwest Rapid Rewards

Current Southwest Credit Card Offers

Here is a breakdown of the current Southwest credit card offers and how to pair them to earn a Southwest Companion Pass.

Some of these offers may have ended or changed since publishing

Personal Cards

Southwest Premier Card
  • Earn 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 50,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • $99 annual fee is NOT waived.
  • Learn More
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
  • Earn 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 50,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • $69 annual fee is NOT waived
  • Learn More
Southwest Priority Card
  • Earn 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 50,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months.
  • $149 annual fee is NOT waived
  • $75 Southwest travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks and WiFi.
  • Learn More

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Card

Business Cards

Southwest Performance Business
  • Get 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after card opening.
  • $199 annual fee is NOT waived
  • Learn More
Southwest Premier Business Card
  • Earn 60,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $99 annual fee is NOT waived.
  • Learn More

Southwest Companion Pass Tips Tricks

My Suggested Game Plan

The end of the year is the best time to focus on earning a Southwest Companion Pass.  That is because all of the Rapid Rewards points need to be earned in the same calendar year. Plus, we want to be as efficient as possible.  Earning the required Rapid Rewards points early in the calendar year can earn you the Companion Pass for almost 2 calendar years. That is because you get it for the remainder of the calendar year you earn it in PLUS the following calendar year.  There is also a bonus perk that points earned AFTER your December statement closes will count towards the 2021 calendar year.  That is because Chase counts the points in the year that the statement closes, not when the charge occurs.  And if you sign up in late November or December there is a chance that your first statement will not close until January, essentially give you a month head start.  Be sure to confirm when your statement closes with Chase after receiving your card.

The One Card Option

Now that we have the optimal earning timeframe out of the way, what is the best combination of cards to get in order to earn the pass? If you look above the best option to earn it with one card are the personal Southwest cards.  I would suggest the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus because the offer is same across all three cards but the Plus has the lowest annual fee. However, if you are a frequent Southwest flyer and can use the perks the Southwest Priority Card may be a better option for you overall.

The offer for both cards is a tiered offer.  Earn 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. Then you can earn an additional 50,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $12,000 within the first 12 months. The bonus points, plus the $12,000 in spend, will net you at least 112,000 Rapid Rewards points. That is only 13,000 points short for a Companion Pass. You can bridge the gap via credit card spend or the other options listed above.

Southwest Companion Pass Tips Tricks

The Two Card Option

The one card option requires a lot of spend and not everyone will be able to complete it. We could go with a two card approach instead.  You could earn 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 within 3 months with the Southwest Performance Business. When including the spend that puts you at 85,000 points.  You could then grab the Southwest Plus card which will give you 50,000 points after $2,000 in spend within 3 months. The 52,000 points earned would put you at 137,000 points, already above the 125K needed.

But, the Plus card offers an additional 50,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months. The nice thing is you could take your time to finish the remaining $10,000 in spend since you would already have your Companion Pass. At the end of the day, after earning both welcome offers, you would have at least 197,000 Rapid Rewards points in your account.

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Okay now that we know what a Southwest Companion Pass is let’s get down to the good stuff.

Wait to Select Your Companion

The first tip is to wait until you are ready to use your companion pass to select your companion.  You can change the companion up to 3 times per year but the first one is free.  Many will select their spouse but then may want to take a trip with a friend or child first. That would burn one of your 3 changes before you really needed to.

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Plan Out Your Companions Ahead Of Time

You can not change companions until all flights are completed with your current companion.  So if you have a flight in April with companion A and want to fly somewhere in May with companion B you need to wait until after the April flight is completed to switch companions.  Once you switch companions any uncompleted flights with the original companion are canceled.  So if you wanted to fly with companion A again in June you would need to perform 2 switches. You may wanna go without the companion pass on the trip in May so that you don’t burn two switches to use it for both companion A and B.  Make sure to plan ahead before making changes.

It works on Cash or Award Tickets

The Southwest Companion Pass works no matter how the ticket is paid for.  If there is an open seat your companion can fly.  You can pay for your ticket with cash, Rapid Rewards points, gift cards, or travel credits.

It Only Takes One Seat

The truly great thing about the Southwest companion pass is that it only takes 1 seat for your companion to fly “free”.  In the situation mentioned above if you wanted companion B to fly with you in May there are ways that it can probably still work out.  You would book the flight in May for yourself right away and lock in the best price possible.  Once the flight in April is complete with companion A you would change your companion to companion B.  You would then add them to your May flight.  As long as there is one seat left on the plane the companion can fly with you.  It doesn’t matter if the ticket is way more expensive than what you paid for yourself. They get to ride if there is a seat. Even if there is only a business class seat available – they fly! Just a FYI this is just a more expensive booking class but you still get the same economy seat ;).

Southwest Companion Pass Tips Tricks

It Doesn’t Matter Who Pays

Another cool tip is that is doesn’t matter who pays for the Southwest companion pass holder to fly.  If your spouse or friend has Rapid Rewards points then they can book the flight in your name.  And even though they paid for your ticket you can add them as a companion (if they are your designated companion).

Split The Cost

Since it doesn’t matter who pays for your flight this is a great way to split the cost of a flight, especially if you both have Rapid Rewards points.  You can book and pay for the departure flight and your companion can book your return flight in your name (or vice versa). You then add them as the companion and you each cut your cost in half.  It is a way to give the gift of travel while still reducing your cost too.

International Flights Count

The most value may be found with booking international flights because they tend to be the most expensive.  Your companion can still fly with you even if you are crossing borders.  You need to pay the taxes and fees for the companion which will probably be in the $100 range.  How does flying to Mexico or Costa Rica for $100 sound to you?


I hope these Southwest Companion Pass tips & tricks help you maximize the value you can get out of it while you have it.  Remember that it is possible to get it right now with the Chase Southwest Plus card after spending $4000 in 3 months and paying the $69 annual fee.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

More Like This


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Hi,

    I’m interested in applying for this today. New Southwest rapid rewards performance business card for 80K points. I will meet minimum spend by 12/11/19- 3 months.

    If I open personal southwest card next month in October and meet minimum spend in Jan 2020 then am I able to get companion pass for rest of 2020 year and 2021?

    Basically, if I meet one card minimum spend this year and second card minimum spend next year is that ok for companion pass? I will hit 110k miles total in January 2020. That ok?


    • No the points all need to post in the same year. So you would have to wait to apply for the business card and complete the minimum spend after the December statement cuts. Then you could get the personal card in early 2020 and earn the bonus from that card and have it for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021.

  2. Hey Mark, you may want to clarify your comment “Even if there is only a business class seat available – they fly!” in case there are those who have not flown Southwest—or do not know about their “all the same” seating. Thanks for not calling them a low cost airline. 🙂

  3. I’ve wondered about this scenario for quite a while.
    I book a one way flight and add my companion. My companion boards but I decide not to fly and cancel my ticket. (I believe I can cancel no later then 10 minutes before my flight) My companion boarded before this 10 minute window.
    How does SWA prevent this from happening?

    • You could probably get away with it once but I am sure they would shut down your Rapid Rewards account and confiscate any points you have once they caught it.

    • They will not allow your companion to fly without you. If the plane is ready to go and your bp hasn’t been scanned, they will come on and take him/her off the flight. Also you can’t cancel your ticket (ever) without first cancelling any associated companion ticket, and you won’t be able to do that after they have boarded.

      • Good point Kenny – I hadn’t thought about that. Once one BP is scanned it would probably lock out cancelling the other ticket.

  4. Just double checking to make sure I understand properly. I am the designated companion but I have points in my own account that I would like to use. Transferring to my husbands account is too costly. So I order a ticket for my husband with my points. Then he adds me to the itinerary and because I am designated as the companion I go free. Wow am I understanding correctly?

    • Yes you can book the flight for your husband with your points and then he can add you as the companion. No need to transfer points to his account.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


  • MtM recommended tool to track & organize credit cards
  • Best card offers personalized for you
  • Track bonus deadlines, fee dates & 5/24 status
  • Full Travel Freely overview

Free Sign-Up

  • MtM recommended tool to track & organize credit cards
  • Best card offers personalized for you
  • Track bonus deadlines, fee dates & 5/24 status
  • Full Travel Freely overview

Free Sign-Up