With all three of the Southwest Chase Rapid Rewards credit cards currently offering 60,000 bonus points upon approval and meeting the minimum spend, but with the personal card offers going away Oct. 4, everyone is trying to figure out if they should go for the Southwest Companion Pass, an awesome perk that lets one person fly free with you, this year or wait until early January.

Why the confusion?

The confusion stems from the fact that first, all 110,000 Southwest points needed to earn the Southwest Companion Pass must be earned in ONE YEAR, the same year, anytime between January 1 and December 31.  Secondly, if you want to take advantage of these credit card offers, which DO count toward the points you need to qualify for the Companion Pass, you have to time your application and completion of the minimum spend (after which your points will be awarded) correctly, knowing the last day you can apply and be approved for the credit card offers is October 4.

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Southwest Companion Pass Timing

The Difference in Earning the Pass This Year Versus Next

2017 Southwest Companion Pass

A 2017 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, 2018.

2018 Southwest Companion Pass

A 2018 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, 2019.

So you can see why some would prefer to earn the pass in 2018, making it good for nearly two years! Of course, we have no idea if the Companion Pass will still be around next year or if they will change the rules. We have no indication of changes, but one never knows. They 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.

As I like to say, I am an advocate of getting it now while we definitely know it’s available! You can always earn it again in early 2019. I have earned both of my passes in December!

I wrote a very detailed post on MillionMileSecrets.com which helps you decide which year’s pass you should go for.

Which Cards to Apply for and When

To earn all 110,000 Southwest points needed to qualify for the Companion Pass through credit card sign-ups, you’re going to need to sign up for TWO cards. This could be a personal and a business card OR two personal cards. And earning the points through card sign-ups is the quickest way to earn the pass.

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 possible without putting yourself in debt.

If you’re going for a pass next year, due to the card offers going away October 4, which does not allow you to spread out applications by 30 days, you’ll need to try to get approved for both in the SAME day. I have never tried this, but other readers have been successful applying for two cards in one day.

There is also the possibility that the business card 60,000-point offer will hang around (Chase has only confirmed the two personal offers will go away after Oct. 4), as it has been around all year. If that happens, you could apply for the personal card first and then wait 30 days and apply for the business card.

Keep in mind that 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), you’ll need to apply in early October so you can postpone completion of the minimum spend until that point so the points credit in January. More about this in the next section.

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 60,000 bonus points.

If you want to earn a 2017 pass, your points MUST CREDIT by December 31, 2017.

If you want to earn a 2018 pass, your points MUST CREDIT on or after January 1, 2018.

Timing is critical. 

Track your progress toward completing your minimum spend with my handy Minimum Spend Calculator. It’s one of five tools you can get as part of my Southwest Toolkit for just $15 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 Daraius over at 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.

2.  Decide if you want to earn the pass this year or next.

3. If you want a 2017 pass, complete your minimum spend five to 10 days BEFORE your December credit card close date.

4. If you want a 2018 pass, complete your minimum spend AFTER your December 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.

Too Much Stress?

If you want a 2018 Companion Pass and this is all a bit too stressful ;-), wait until next year when at least a 50,000-point credit card offer comes around and apply then. You can still earn the Companion Pass easily with two 50,000-point offers or one 50,000-point offer and one 60,000-point offer. Then take your time completing the minimum spend!

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be going for a 2017 or a 2018 pass!

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