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This Is Not a Drill: You Can Now Earn the Southwest Companion Pass With One Credit Card Bonus

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Update: This offer ended February 11, 2019. View current offers here - Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Southwest Airlines offers an amazing perk to its most frequent flyers who can earn 110,000 qualifying points or who take 100 qualifying flights in a year: two-for-one travel with its Companion Pass. This lets you bring along a friend or family member for free (minus taxes and fees) on both paid and award flights. There’s no real catch to speak of: This is a huge opportunity to save big on travel, and if Southwest’s route map aligns well with your travel plans, you could easily save hundreds or even thousands with this perk.

Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses count toward the Companion Pass, but it’s become more difficult to qualify now that you’re limited to holding just one personal Southwest credit card. That makes this offer even more amazing: All three personal Southwest credit cards are offering a sign-up bonus that includes the Companion Pass. However, you only have a day left to sign up and take advantage: This limited-time offer ends on Feb. 11. There are some limitations that we’ll walk through below, but this is a first-of-its-kind offer that even occasional Southwest flyers should consider.

Sign-Up Offer Details

This bonus grants new card holders the Companion Pass through Dec. 31, 2019, as well as 30,000 Southwest points, after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Those familiar with the Companion Pass may note that this differs from the terms of the pass earned by accruing 110,000 points or taking 100 qualifying flights. If you earn the Companion Pass the “traditional” way rather than through this credit card sign-up offer, you’ll enjoy the pass for the remainder of the year in which you earn in, plus the entire following calendar year.

With the credit card offer, you’ll only have the Companion Pass through the end of 2019. And since you’ll earn it after meeting the spending requirement, you’ll want to spend the $4,000 as quickly as you (responsibly) can. The terms say it could take up to 8 weeks to receive the Companion Pass after you meet the minimum spend, but in practice you’ll likely see it hit your account sooner, after the statement for the business cycle in which you hit the spending requirement closes.

Here are the three cards offering this new sign-up bonus:

The names don’t exactly clarify how these three cards differ, but they have annual fees ranging from $69 to $149 and varying perks. Here’s more info on how they stack up:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual fee$69$99$149
Anniversary points bonus 3,000 Rapid Rewards points6,000 Rapid Rewards points7,500 Rapid Rewards points
Earning rates2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners 1x everywhere else2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners 1x everywhere else2x on Southwest flights and hotel and car rental partners 1x everywhere else
Other perksN/AN/A$75 annual Southwest travel credit

Four upgraded boardings per year (when available)

20% back on inflight drinks and Wi-Fi
Tier Qualifying PointsN/AEarn up to 15,000 TQPs a year, 1,500 for each $10,000 spentEarn up to 15,000 TQPs a year, 1,500 for each $10,000 spent
Foreign transaction fee3%NoneNone
 

As all three cards are offering an identical welcome bonus, you should pick the one with the annual fee and benefits to match your needs. Not everyone will need the extra perks like four upgraded boardings with the Priority Card, for example.

Eligibility

We’ll be answering all your questions about this offer and the Companion Pass in an FAQ, but let’s take a quick look at who is and isn’t eligible for this new offer.

You won’t be able to earn this sign-up bonus, let alone open one of these personal Southwest cards, if:

  • You already hold a personal Southwest credit card
  • You’ve earned a new card member bonus on a Southwest consumer credit card in the last 24 months
  • You’re over 5/24 — meaning you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months. This is a Chase policy that means there’s virtually zero chance you’ll be accepted for most of its cards if you’re over the 5/24 limit.

Using Points

The 30,000 Southwest points you’ll earn with this sign-up bonus are worth $450 based on TPG’s valuations.

Southwest points are great for travelers who don’t want to worry about maximizing their points. After all, the number of points required to book a flight is directly tied to the current fare of the flight. Southwest is also great for families traveling with lap children as well as flexible travelers since there aren’t any cancellation or change fees on Southwest flights.

Bottom Line

We value the Southwest Companion Pass at $8,430, but that assumes you’re earning it based on qualifying flights and that you don’t have a more limited timeline like you do with this sign-up bonus. We value the Companion Pass available through this limited-time offer (so, good through Dec. 31) at about $1,250 to $2,500, based on the assumption that you’re taking one round-trip flight every one or two months through the end of 2019.

That’s still plenty of value, and if you can get where you want to go on Southwest — and remember, the airline may begin flying to Hawaii this year — this Companion Pass offer could be a no-brainer. Don’t forget the airline flies to Mexico and various Caribbean destinations as well.

Feb. 11 is the date you’ll want to remember, as you only have until then to sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card and earn the Companion Pass as part of the sign-up bonus.

Featured photo of a Southwest aircraft at Houston Hobby by Stephen M. Keller / Southwest.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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