The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most coveted perks amongst travel aficionados but is notoriously difficult to get.
Once you earn it, the Southwest Companion Pass lets you pick one person to fly with you for free as long as you have the pass; you only have to pay taxes and fees, which start at $5.60 one way.
Now, we’re not gonna lie… it can be difficult (and expensive) to earn the companion pass, because the progress you make to earn it resets every Jan. 1.
But if you travel a lot already, or travel with a partner often, the effort could be worth your while. Alright, let’s learn how to get the Southwest companion pass. (First, you’ll need to have a Southwest Rapid Rewards account.)
1. Earn the companion pass by taking 100 one-way Southwest flights in one calendar year.
You’ll need to purchase 100 one-way qualifying flights in one calendar year. That’s around 1 flight every 3 days… yowza. You can’t earn the companion pass by combining flights and points — you’ve got to choose one way or the other.
This is the hardest way to earn the Southwest companion pass, so most people accumulate points.
2. You can also get it by earning 125,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year.
A slightly easier way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is to accumulate 125,000 Rapid Rewards points. You can earn points by using the Southwest Credit Card, or just by purchasing flights with your Rapid Rewards account.
So, how much would you have to spend on base fares between January and December to get 125,000 points?
- $20,834 on just Wanna Get Away (earning at a rate of 6 points per $1 spent)
- $12,500 on just Anytime (10 points per $1 spent)
- $10,417 on just Business Select (12 points per $1 spent)
Some Rapid Rewards points won’t count towards your companion pass, including purchased points, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, and tier bonus points.
3. Get the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa credit card for bonus point offers.
Listen, spending even $10,000 on flights every year to get the companion pass isn’t sustainable (or even worth it). But if you’re heart-set on getting the companion pass, the way to avoid a massive airfare spend is to get one of the four Southwest credit cards.
There is always a bonus point promotion going on for the Rapid Rewards credit card — the amount of points varies between years, though. We’ve seen a 50,000 points reward for spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of having the card, and an additional 50,000 points after you spend $12,000 in the first year. That’s a whopping 100,000 points worth between $12,000 and $24,000 that you get for free.
Here are some more ways the credit card makes earning points easier:
- You’ll get an extra 2-3 points per $1 spent on Southwest flights. (For example, the standard 6 points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away flights gets upgraded to 8 or 9 points per $1.)
- Get 2 – 3 points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, and 1 point per $1 spent on anything else.
- You’ll also get 3,000 – 7,500 points every year on your cardmember anniversary.
- When you successfully refer friends to open a card, you’ll get 20,000 points per person, up to 5 times a year.
4. Once you earn the companion pass, it’s good for the rest of the current calendar year and the entire next year.
That means if you earned the pass anytime in 2021, the pass would be valid through Dec. 31, 2022.
There’s no limit to the number of times you can use your companion pass — but just keep in mind that you and your companion must fly together when you use it.
Whether you pay with cash or your Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you can use the pass to get an additional ticket for your lucky chosen one — for free.
5. You can change your designated companion up to 3 times per year.
You can’t just bring whichever friend you want, whenever. You’ll have to designate your companion on your Southwest Airlines account, and you can only have one companion at a time.
You can, however, swap out your companion up to 3 times per calendar year.
6. Keep an eye out for Southwest companion pass promotions.
In the past, Southwest Airlines has had incredible Southwest Companion Pass promotions, like one from 2020 where you got a mini version of the companion pass, good for 2 months after purchasing just one flight.
But don’t hold your breath; these promos are super rare.
7. If the companion pass isn’t right for you, you can still save a ton of money using tried-and-true Southwest hacks.
A great example is how Southwest announces their weekly fares on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. — and that’s when you should look for the cheapest tickets! All you need to do is sign up for their Click ‘N Save emails.
These weekly Southwest airlines deals only last about three days and usually end on Thursday of that week.
For more ways to save, check out our Southwest hacks next time you want to book a flight.