Remember the good old days, when no one but the points and miles junkies, travel hackers and Southwest frequent flyers knew about the Southwest companion pass? The item that, depending on your situation, could be the single most valuable item in your arsenal.
If you’ve never heard about the companion pass, it’s issued to Southwest flyers who accumulate more than 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a single year. The pass, good for the rest of the year you earn it and for the entire following year, lets a companion fly for free on as many flights as you take (except for the taxes and fees). The companion ticket is available as long as an additional ticket is for sale, regardless of the price of the additional ticket. This means you can book the last cheap ticket on the plane and your companion can get a free ticket even it costs much more than yours did. Southwest even lets you change your companion up to three times each year so you’re not stuck traveling with the same person all the time. 🙂
Unless you flew on Southwest regularly, I’d assume for business travel, you had to know the tricks of the trade to get a companion pass. Those days are over.
It seems that now Southwest wants everyone to get a companion pass.
In January 2019, Chase offered a Southwest Companion pass for all of 2019 as a signup bonus for the co-brand Southwest Plus, Premier and Priority credit cards after spending $4,000 in 90 days. Granted, the pass was only good for one year (or part of a year depending on when you applied and finished the spending requirement). But it was definitely a different threshold from earning 110,000 points.
That offer was only available until mid-February. After that, you had to go back to the old way of getting a companion pass. You had to earn it.
Enough of the old commercial references. Honestly, it took some work and planning to get a companion pass again through a coordinated plan of credit card signups and spending, along with other methods to reach the 110,000-mile threshold.
That is, until Chase stepped into the mix again.
I recently received an email from Chase and Southwest:
They make no secret that this offer will bring me closer to getting a companion pass. Might I be targeted for this offer because I just signed up for the Southwest Priority card that gives me a 60,000 point bonus? Maybe, but this offer and that one would earn me a pass until the end of 2020. Hmmmmmm.
There are two parts to the offer:
Combine the two and you have your 50,000 points. Combine that with the 60,000 sign up bonus for the credit card and you have a companion pass without ever setting foot on a Southwest plane.
Not to give you too much of an insight into our personal finances but we don’t have a spare $15,000 sitting around to open up a savings account, so those final 20,000 miles aren’t going to happen.
I could always get the 80,000 point signup bonus for the new Southwest Performance Business card and I’d have more than enough points for the companion pass without having to do any additional spending beyond the signup bonuses.
Getting a companion pass hasn’t been this easy since Southwest stopped counting points transferred in from Marriott travel packages. Ah, the good old days.
I’m guessing this was a targeted offer so I’m sorry if you’re not eligible. I’m sharing this because it shows how Southwest and Chase are now seeing the companion pass as a valuable asset towards getting people to sign up for their products. Given, they’ve made it harder to earn the companion pass through signup bonuses by limiting how often you can earn a bonus on any of their Southwest cards. At the same time, they’re adding ways for you to earn the pass. This is the first offer I’ve ever seen offering miles in an airline program for signing up for a checking or savings account. Usually, it’s cash back or Ultimate Rewards if you sign up for Chase Sapphire Banking products.
It goes to show that the more things change, programs will always want to give incentives to sign up for products. We just have to be smart about which ones we sign up for.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary