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The Best Time to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Best time to apply for the Southwest Companion Pass

Readers continue to ask about the best time to begin the Southwest Companion Pass process. This is an important question, as I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they DID NOT GET all of their 125,000 required Southwest points earned by the end of the calendar year. That means you have to start ALL OVER Jan. 1! You don’t want to do that, right?!

First things first…

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

Link: The Ultimate Guide to Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

Link: How the Southwest Companion Pass Has Changed My Life

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The Southwest Companion Pass is an amazing DEAL from Southwest Airlines that allows one person to fly free with you (aside from the government-required $5.60 security fee per way) from the time you earn the pass until the END of the FOLLOWING year. So if you earn it right now (2021), it’s good through the end of 2022.

You earn this pass by accumulating 125,000 Southwest points, also called Rapid Rewards points, within ONE CALENDAR YEAR, which means to earn the pass THIS YEAR, you must have ALL POINTS earned by Dec. 31.

The quickest and easiest way to earn the 125,000 qualifying points is to sign up for TWO of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Chase credit cards, each offering you a bonus of 40,000-70,000 points for meeting a minimum spend of either $2,000 or $3,000 – both in three months.

Please be sure you responsibly use credit cards only paying for everyday expenses for which you already have money in the bank and can pay off within 30 days, if not every few days.

Note: To apply for the credit cards included in this post and to help support Go to Travel Gal at NO COST to you, please click Credit Cards on the main menu above. This allows us to earn a commission to support our small business. I sincerely appreciate you taking this step!

 

When Should I Begin Accumulating Points for the Pass?

In an ideal world, you would begin earning points for the Southwest Companion Pass in January 🙂 or even apply for the credit cards in October through December of the year prior, but it DOES NOT have to be done this way.

The reason this is the best path is because the pass is good from the TIME YOU EARN IT until the end of the following year, so the EARLIER YOU EARN IT, the longer you can use it, making it good for almost TWO FULL YEARS.

That said, it is best to begin as early as you can. If you earn the pass by applying for two of Southwest’s credit cards with at least 50,000-point sign-on bonuses, you can knock it out in about two months. That’s the quickest way.

But if you plan to earn your points in other ways, such as via actual flights on Southwest, by starting your online shopping at the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal, via everyday spending on your Southwest Chase Rapid Rewards credit cards (if you already hold them) or other means, you’ll need as much time as possible to accumulate those points.

Again, ALL POINTS MUST BE EARNED — AND CREDITED TO YOUR RAPID REWARDS ACCOUNT — BY DECEMBER 31 of the calendar year you BEGAN earning the points.

 

What If I’m Starting Later in the Year?

Go to Travel Gal Southwest Companion Pass 2018
The Southwest Companion Pass has changed my life!

That’s OK! You can still do it! I’ve earned my Companion Pass four times right at the end of a calendar year, so mine is basically good for one year only: the following year.

The first time I earned the pass, we were purchasing a home and I needed to wait until all mortgage processes were complete before applying for any cards (I did not want to mess with my credit even by a tenth of a point, so we could get the best interest rate possible). You, too, may want to wait to begin this process if you have a major purchase coming up.

So while I did apply for one card in April of that year, I had to wait until after September to apply for the second card to complete the 110,000 points (currently 125,000) I needed.

 

What is the Absolute Latest I Should Start Trying to Earn the Companion Pass?

I would not start any later than early October. You DO NOT want to accumulate a bunch of points only to NOT get to 125,000 and have the points you DID accumulate NOT count toward the Companion Pass. Of course, you can still use them for free flights either way.

 

An Ideal Timetable for Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

When to apply for the Southwest Companion Pass?

October-November: Start the planning process to earn your Companion Pass and/or apply for Southwest credit cards

  • Conduct research on the Companion Pass 
  • Get an idea for the average cost of the flights you will be looking for and determine what is a good fare
  • Get your credit score to the upper 600s to low 700s (most easily by getting all card balances down to a third or below of their credit limit so long as you don’t have a bankruptcy, etc. and paying all bills on time). Here’s how to quickly improve your credit score.
  • Sign up for a Rapid Rewards account.
  • Sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining

At this point, you can also begin applying for two Southwest credit cards if the bonuses are at least 50,000 points. However, if you want the pass the FOLLOWING year, be sure you do NOT complete the minimum spend until AFTER your December close date, but you will need to be sure you complete your minimum spend within the 90-day deadline they allott to you. Here is more about timing a Southwest Companion Pass using this method.

January-March:

February-April:

  • Complete your minimum spend requirement for the above cards and wait for the points to be added to your Rapid Rewards account no more than 30 days after the close of your credit card business cycle.
  • Use your credit cards to pay for everyday expenses, which will translate into points that qualify for your Companion Pass. Pay your balance every 30 days so you do not accumulate interest.
  • If you need more points to reach 125,000, continue to follow previous tips to earn points, read my Southwest Companion Pass ebook (see above), and subscribe to GotoTravelGal.com to stay up to date on cheap and easy ways to earn points.
  • Wait for the exciting email that you have earned a Companion Pass!

April of the CURRENT Year through December of the FOLLOWING Year

  • Travel the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico with a Companion FREE
  • Begin planning how you will earn the Companion Pass again by either having a spouse or friend earn it and make YOU the Companion, waiting until you are able to earn the credit card bonuses again or earning points through referring friends to the cards, Rapid Rewards Shopping, paying everyday expenses on the cards, etc.

Have you started the process to earn your Southwest Companion Pass this year? How far along are you?

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16 thoughts on “The Best Time to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass”

  1. So we got the Southwest Personal card in Jan. and hit our $2k minimum spend that month. We then got the Southwest Business card in February and hit the $3k spend requirement. The bonus points for the Personal card showed up the day after statement closing. The bonus points for the Business card have still not showed up after 2 weeks of closing date but the regular points did show. Is this normal? We are planning a trip this summer and want to use the Companion Pass. I say we because these cards are both in my wife’s name due to I’m doing my spending on AMEX SPG and Citi Hilton cards.
    Keep up the good articles, I read yours daily as well as MMS.

    Reply
    • Hi Tim, thanks for the compliment that you read Go to Travel Gal alongside MMS! Yea! 🙂 It is NOT normal to not have your bonus points right after the closing date. I would log into your Chase credit card account and send them a secure message and ask about the status of your bonus points. They are usually very prompt in their response (within 24 hours) and often can solve the problem. Let me know what they say! Any suggestions of what else you’d like to read on Go to Travel Gal? Thanks!

      Reply
      • Lyn,
        After multiple phone calls we ended up waiting until the next closing date. I am happy to say the day after our closing date all points were posted and Companion Pass award notice was sent to us:) Now looking forward to using it as much as possible.
        Keep up the good articles!!!
        Tim

        Reply
  2. Back in December, my wife and I planned out how to get the Southwest companion pass for the both of us so we can fly with our family of 6 for a reasonable price. Our plan was to both apply for the Southwest premier and plus cards (at the time of applying we got 40k and 50k points). Then get the SPG card and transfer those points to Southwest. In January, they changed the rules and the SPG points don’t count for the companion pass. Both of us have about 95k points but don’t tend to spend our money on too many of the promotional deals. We don’t own our own business or make money on the side. Is the companion pass out of reach or is there another way to fairly easily get 15k in Southwest points?

    p.s. I am still contemplating getting the SPG card tomorrow but wonder if I should keep spending money on the Southwest Cards instead.

    Reply
  3. Hi Lyn,
    Do you have to leave all accumulated points in your account while attempting to earn the companion pass? Or can you spend some without loosing the accumulated total towards the pass?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon-
      No, you do not have to leave the points there. Just the fact that you earned them is enough to qualify for the Companion Pass. Go right ahead and spend those points! 🙂

      Reply
  4. I already have a SW personal card. I will need to cancel it to apply for 2 new personal cards to earn the companion passs so my question is-will I be denied based upon fact I’m just canceling the card? Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    • Hi Jackie- No you should not be. But what you might do is apply for the 1 you don’t have currently first (after cancelling the other one), then wait at least 30 days before re-applying for the one you cancelled. You can also consider applying for the business card instead (which is currently a 60,000-point bonus) if you have any sort of side income.

      Reply
  5. Quick question on the timing of 110K point accumulation. I have applied for both SW Premier and SW Business cards during first week of October 2017. My 3rd month statement closing is not until Jan 3rd. I have spent $1500 on each card, thus far, and planning to spend the remaining $500 on each card on Jan 1st or 2nd, to ensure I meet the min spending of $2000 on each card before the statement end date. My goal is to meet min spending before end of 3rd month statement date, and earn the companion pass for 2018 and 2019.

    Can you please let me know if I am thinking straight on this or would I end up losing all the points earned for my spending in Oct, Nov and Dec ($1500 on each card). i.e., in a calendar year?

    Reply
  6. Thanks for your immediate reply. So I won’t be losing the points earned during Oct-Dec? And, spending the remaining $500 to meet min spend should earn me companion pass for 2018 and 19 – correct?

    Reply
  7. So when you say “losing your points” any points you earned that are currently IN your Rapid Rewards account right now will NOT count toward a 2018 Companion Pass, but CAN be used for free travel. They do not expire so long as you hold a SW credit card. Your 60,000 points for each card should credit after your Jan. 3 close date, awarding you a 2018 Companion Pass, as they will count toward the pass in 2018. Am I understanding you right regarding “losing the points”?

    Reply
  8. Hi,
    Does anyone know if I try to reapply for the Southwest cards to earn the Companion Pass again, do I base the date to reapply on the “opening” or the “closing” date of my statement for when the bonus points were originally added to my account? Thanks for any info…

    Reply
    • Hi Brenna-
      In reading the fine print on these cards, it says “This product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of this credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.”

      To me, that means the date the bonus credited to your account, which would likely be the credit card close date. You could also see if you can find the date under Southwest.com/My Account/Recent Activity/View All Activity and then select the date in the Top Left dropdown, though mine only goes back to the prior year.

      Reply

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