At the end of the year I get lots of questions about the timing of the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets one person fly free with you for up to two years after you earn 125,000 qualifying points.
My family uses this amazing benefit to fly all over the United States AND the Caribbean almost entirely free!
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Top Tips for Southwest Companion Pass Timing
Trust me, you don’t want to mess up the timing on this, as I’ve seen WAY too many readers miss out because of missed timing!
Why Timing the Southwest Companion Pass Is Important
1. You MUST earn all 125,000 points within ONE CALENDAR YEAR (that’s January 1 to December 31)!! So if you don’t get ALL of the required points by the end of the year, you start at ZERO. Don’t make that mistake! If you learn nothing else from this post, make it this!
2. The Companion Pass lasts the longest when you earn it as close to the BEGINNING of a calendar year as possible. That’s because the pass is valid from the time you earn it until the END of the following year.
So earning it early in 2020, for example, means it will be good for the longest possible time: until the END of 2021. That is almost TWO FULL YEARS, which is ideal.
At the end of the year, lots of people are trying to figure out if they should go for the Southwest Companion Pass in the current year, especially if they’ve already earned a huge chuck of the 125,000 points so they don’t go to waste, or wait until early January of the following year to start at 0 points to start earning a pass that will be good for the following year AND the year after.
The Difference in Earning the Pass This Year Versus Next
2020 Southwest Companion Pass
A 2020 Southwest Companion Pass will let you fly one person free with you (aside from the mandatory $5.60 security fee each way) through December 31, 2021.
2021 Southwest Companion Pass
A 2021 Southwest Companion Pass will let you fly one person free with you (aside from the mandatory $5.60 security fee each way) through December 31, 2022.
So you can see why some would prefer to earn the pass early the NEXT year, making it good for nearly two years!
Which Should I Go For?
Of course, we have no idea if the Companion Pass will still be around in any given year or how they will change the rules. For example, as of January 1, 2020, the increased the number of points required to get a pass from 110,000 in one year to 125,000 in one year.
They also made a significant change to the rules January 1, 2017 that no longer allowed points transferred from hotel loyalty programs to count toward the pass and in 2018 no longer allowing us to hold two personal Southwest credit cards. Each year it’s become a bit more to secure the pass.
I am an advocate of getting it now while we definitely know it’s available, especially if you already have a bunch of points that qualify for the Pass!
To check this, go to Southwest.com, log in to your Rapid Rewards account and click on Rapid Rewards/My Account (top right).
You’ll see the below screen and under “Earn your next Companion Pass” will be a snapshot of how many of the 125,000 qualifying points you’ve earned.
If you go for a pass this year, remember, you can always earn it again in early 2021. I have earned all four of my passes in December, making them only good for one year!
You may want to check out how I earned my 2017 Southwest Companion Pass, which is the same way I did it in 2018. This is one of my most popular posts!
The Quickest and Easiest Way to Earn a Southwest Companion Pass
Earning a Southwest Companion Pass is most easily accomplished by signing up for Southwest credit cards and earning their bonus offers, which DO count toward the points you need to qualify for the Companion Pass.
To apply for any of the credit cards included in this post, please start at the TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS link in my main menu above (shown in the image below) or use the links in this post. This helps me to earn a commission — at NO COST TO YOU — to help me pay the blogging bills and continue to bring you great content free! Thank you for taking this step!
Right now, the highest offer on a Southwest card is for the new Southwest Performance Business card. You can earn 70,000 points after meeting a $5,000 minimum spend within three months.
You can either complete your minimum spend this year BEFORE your December close date and get the points for a 2020 pass or complete your minimum spend AFTER your December card close date for a 2021 pass good through the end of 2022. Keep reading to find out more about the timing.
Read my FULL REVIEW on the Southwest Performance Business card, which explains how nearly ANYONE (yes, you!) can be approved for a business card!!
Plus, here are SEVEN ways to use the 70,000 points you earn with this card.
Timing Your Credit Card Applications
All that said, you have to time your application and completion of the minimum spend (after which your points will be awarded) correctly! You MUST complete your minimum spend within THREE months of the card’s approval (NOT when you get it in the mail or activate it).
To earn all 125,000 Southwest points needed to qualify for the Companion Pass through credit card sign-ups, you’re going to need to sign up for one or two Southwest cards. If you decide to go for two, it can be either ONE personal and ONE business card, as they no longer allow you to hold TWO personal Southwest credit cards, or two business cards.
For a 2020 Pass (good through 12/31/21)…
If you’re going for a pass this year, I’d recommend applying for 1 card as soon as possible and then applying for the second 30 days later. You will need to complete both minimum spends BEFORE your December credit card close dates (see next section), so make sure that is reasonable without putting yourself in debt.
2021 Pass (good through 12/31/22)…
If you’re going for a pass next year, you’ll need to complete your minimum spend AFTER your December close date (and there’s no way to know what date that will be until you get the cards) so the points will credit in January, counting toward a 2021 pass.
Since you have three months from card APPROVAL to meet the minimum spend, you’ll need to apply no earlier than October so you can postpone completion of the minimum spend until AFTER your December close date. More about this in the next section.
Your Plan for Timing the Minimum Spend Completion
You have 3 months from the date of card approval to complete your minimum spend in order to earn your bonus points.
If you want to earn a 2020 pass, your points MUST CREDIT by December 31, 2020.
If you want to earn a 2021 pass, your points MUST CREDIT on or after January 1, 2021.
Timing is critical.
Track your progress toward completing your minimum spend with my handy Minimum Spend Calculator. It’s one of 6 tools you can get as part of my Southwest Toolkit for just $7 to help manage your progress toward flying free and earning the Southwest Companion Pass! Learn more about the Toolkit. Thanks for supporting Go to Travel Gal!
Because your points are credited upon the credit card closing date (different from your payment due date) in which the minimum spend was completed — and according to MillionMileSecrets.com, you should complete your spending five to 10 days BEFORE the close date to ensure everything has processed — you need to have a plan in place.
1. Find out the close date of your credit card in December (it is generally the same date every month).
This will be listed on your statement OR if you just applied for the card, you can call or message Chase to ask when the closing date is. You can also REQUEST TO CHANGE your closing date if you want. I have a reader who swears by this!
2. Decide if you want to earn the pass this year or next.
3. If you want a 2020 pass, complete your minimum spend five to 10 days BEFORE your December 2020 credit card close date.
Keep in mind things like returns or credits. I had a reader, who because of a refund she wasn’t expecting, caused her NOT to meet the minimum spend as she had planned.
4. If you want a 2021 pass, complete your minimum spend AFTER your December 2020 credit card close date.
I have confirmed with Southwest that purchases made in December AFTER your credit card close date will count toward your minimum spend completion in January AFTER your January credit card close date.
Again here, don’t forget about ANYTHING you may have put on the card, on autopay, etc., which could cause your card to meet the minimum spend BEFORE you intended.
Too Much Stress?
If you want a 2021 Companion Pass and this is all a bit too stressful ;-), wait until next year to apply for your cards.
You can still earn the Companion Pass easily with one 40,000-point offer and one 60,000-point or 70,000-point offer (so long as they are still available!). Then take your time completing the minimum spend, knowing it will FOR SURE credit in 2021.
Let me know in the comments if you’ll be going for a 2020 or a 2021 pass!
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