The best deal for US travelers is still the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. For just two more days (through December 7th, 2021) it remains easy to achieve. This is the only travel credit card my wife has applied for this year.
Southwest Airlines Companion Pass Is Still The Best Deal In Travel
I have discussed the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass in the past calling it the best deal in travel for US travelers. That remains the case today. Companion Pass is available to Rapid Rewards members accruing 125,000 points (through certain channels) in a calendar year. Once achieved, the Companion Pass gives holders the ability to add a companion to any Southwest flight regardless of whether that ticket was purchased with cash or points redemption.
Here are the specifics of the Companion Pass:
- Valid for the rest of the year in which it’s earned and all of the next year
- Companion can be added to any flight for which at least one seat is available
- Companion can be changed three times per calendar year
Companion Pass qualifiers:
- Earning 125,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points
- Bonus points from credit cards count
- Rapid Reward points from spending on credit cards count
- Rapid Rewards points from flying count (as accumulated)
- Rapid Rewards points earned through shopping portals and commerce partners count
- Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards do not count toward Companion Pass
- Points from hotel transfers do not count toward Companion Pass
- Purchased Rapid Rewards points do not count toward Companion Pass
For my family of three, being able to offset the cost of one of our travelers is a significant value, but when our daughter was a on-lap infant, we were all flying for the price (in cash or points) of just one person.
Soon Expiring Southwest Airlines Credit Card Offers Make Companion Pass Easy To Obtain
Chase has a number of Southwest Airlines credit cards that have substantial bonuses for the next few days making the Companion Pass easy to obtain. These new promotions started months ago and end on December 7th, 2021 at 11:59 PM.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
First, the personal cards should be compared. All three cards offer the potential for 100,000 bonus points after spending $12,000 in the first 12 months. However, it should be noted that this bonus is split, awarding 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 on the card within the first three months and then another 50,000 more bonus points when another $10,000 is spent within 12 months of opening the card.
The annual fees on all of Southwest’s credit cards are reasonable, $69 for Plus, $99 for Premier, $149 for Priority. All three cards earn 2x points per dollar spent on:
- Local transit, commuting and rideshare apps (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
- Internet, cable, phone, and select streaming services
- Hotels and car rentals made through Southwest
- Southwest flights – though now the Premier and Priority get a third Rapid Reward point per dollar spent on Southwest flights
All three cards get 25% back on in-flight purchases, whether it’s adult beverages, wifi, or anything else. Southwest Plus and Southwest Premier cardholders get two early bird checkins annually, while Priority cardholders get (4) upgraded boardings per year (when available), and a $75 Southwest annual travel credit. Premier and Priority cardholders also 1,500 tier-qualifying points toward A-list status for every $10,000 in spend annually (which both would receive if earning the full bonus with this offer) and those two cardholder groups are not subject to international foreign transaction fees. All cards earn (1) Rapid Reward point per dollar spent on everything outside of these listed categories.
Southwest credit cards also come with an annual retention bonus of 3,000, 6,000, or 7,500 Rapid Rewards points on the cardholder’s anniversary with the product for Plus, Premier, and Priority cards respectively.
Business Credit Cards
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card has one of the most unique features I’ve seen on an airline credit card and might be reason alone to snag it. The Performance version of the card comes with 365 free in-flight wifi sessions. The normal $8 charge is made to the card and then a credit is issued within 1-2 weeks of the charge being made. I don’t know of another card in the industry that offers free wifi and for small business travelers or consultants, that alone could be a huge advantage.
The current bonus for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card is 80,000 points (instead of 100,000 for the others) but requires just $5,000 spent in the first three months to receive it.
The rest of the benefits closely align with the Southwest Priority credit card with a couple of notable additions:
- $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement every four years
- 4x points for Southwest flights booked with the card (instead of 3x on Priority)
- $500 in waived transfer fees (to move points to employees); and
- 9,000 bonus points on the cardholder anniversary as opposed to 7,500.
Some small business owners may qualify for the Southwest Performance through their business outright, others who are building their businesses or have not yet established themselves as large enough businesses to warrant its own credit score may need to utilize their personal credit score on their business applications. Generally speaking, FICO scores of 700 or higher are considered safe territory for both business and personal cards.
Business owners that do not have the personal Southwest cards can apply for both versions in the same month so long as they have fewer than five applications for new credit cards in the last 24 months. Doing so would apply both bonuses and ensure Companion Pass is achieved even at just $7,000 in spend in the first three months ($2,000 for personal cards AND $5,000 for the business card.)
The Only Travel Credit Card My Wife Has Added All Year
There have been some great credit card offers out this year. LiveAndLetsFly uses and refers our readers to great offers when they are available, but make it a point not to post about them extensively. In fact, this year I’ve written a card recommendation just twice prior to this one. The reality is that most of our readership and all of the authors here at LALF use travel rewards credit cards regularly so discussing them from time to time makes sense.
This Southwest personal credit card offer is the only one my wife has added all year. The reasons are simple, it’s the only one that was too good to pass up for the following logic.
It’s A Lot of Points
It’s not just the sign up bonus we factor in, but the total points once the bonus is received. Let me explain that further. In order to achieve the 100,000 bonus we want from the card, we will have to spend at least $12,000 on the card. That will add not only the bonus but also a minimum of 12,000 points to our total balance giving her at least 112,000 points.
However, if we use the card to buy Southwest tickets, we will earn 3x points on those purchases, let’s call that expenditure $1,000. That will give her 115,000 points if the rest of the spending is at a 1x rate. By moving some of streaming expenses, phone and internet bills and rideshare expenses, we will accelerate our earning toward companion pass but also toward a very large quantity of redeemable Rapid Rewards points. When we fly those reservations, we will also earn the points from those trips, closing the gap to our 125,000 point goal even faster.
Companion Pass is Valuable to Us
When looking at a minimum of 125,000 points earned, that’s an awful lot of flights with the carrier when we are ready to redeem. At a rate of 1.4¢/point, it’s worth more $1,750 – a substantial sign up bonus. When factoring in the free companion that will fly on those flights with my wife, it doubles in value to $3,500.
Possessing that many Rapid Rewards points (in addition to her current balance) opens up the freedom of traveling on a whim in a way we might not with other loyalty program balances. We choose to use other currencies for different flights like long haul business class overseas. Burning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for a quick trip to Seattle might seem like a good idea, but I’d rather save those 25,000 miles to put toward a trans-Pacific business class flight on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong for 50,000 instead. With the ability to halve our costs by using Southwest Rapid Rewards points, a getaway to Seattle is still possible, and affordable without sacrificing points used better elsewhere.
We also like the option to switch the named companion up to three times annually (six times over the life of the pass.) This makes it possible for just my wife and daughter to head to grandma’s using the pass to save money or points, then giving the two of us an option to use the same great offer to fly to Aruba for a weekend getaway.
The Cards Pay For Themselves
The shortcut to Companion Pass is a huge reason why these cards pay for themselves. I’m frankly shocked that they offer the same bonus across the board, even at the $69 annual fee level. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card, however, really makes the most headway.
Ignoring the bonus and extra earnings, the $75 credit for Southwest flights costs the cost of the annual fee from $149 to $74 net, aligning it just slightly above the least expensive card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card, but giving many more benefits. If I was flying for business more right now, the business card might also make sense given the internet rebates – a huge win for business travelers without a doubt.
We don’t often recommend specific credit cards on this blog, but with just a couple of days left on substantial bonuses, it would be a disservice not to do so. We find tremendous value in the Southwest Companion Pass and these bonus offers make them incredibly attainable. Signing up for the card right now is also the best possible time, not just for the bonuses, but also for how early in the year Companion Pass can be earned. If Christmas spending were to take a customer above $12,000 on their first billing cycle, those 112,000 points would be received in January. If the total required amount (125,000 Rapid Rewards points) were to hit in that same month, then cardholders would have the chance to hold the Companion Pass for close to 24 months.
What do you think? Are you going for the Southwest Companion Pass?