Earned My Southwest Airlines Companion Pass!

I’m so excited! I just got an email letting me know I earned my Southwest Airlines Companion Pass for 2014! The pass enables me to choose one person to fly FREE with me on any Southwest flight for all of next year. I’m selecting Bob, my husband, as my companion but Southwest allows you to choose anyone–mother, father, friend, sibling, etc and allows up to three changes so you can pick multiple people to join you throughout the year. Bob and I are planning to visit a lot of places we’d like to see but probably not well enough if we had to pay for 2 roundtrip tickets. The really cool part is I can use my Southwest points so I fly free and now Bob will fly free, too. I have over 120,000 points in my Rapid Rewards account so that’s going to be a whole year of both of us flying for free!

Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
Southwest Airlines Companion Pass

How to Earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass

To earn the pass I had fly 100 flights (impossible for me) or rack up 110,000 points in one calendar year. I have been charging like a maniac on my Chase Signature Visa Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card that I got just about 2 months ago. The credit card came with a 50,000 bonus, plus I also got another Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards card earlier in the year with a 50,000 bonus so I only needed to spend a total of $10,000. It’s sad to say, but that’s not hard to do in our family of just two people for everyday items and some much-needed dental work. It also helped that some of the purchases I made were through Southwest Airlines shopping portal so I got bonus points that added to the total faster than regular charging. (I detailed my end-of-the-year push to earn miles in this post.)

Deciding Where to Go with My Southwest Airlines Companion Pass!

Now that the hard part is over (spending money to earn points), we can start planning all the fun places to visit. We want to use the pass for places we have wanted to visit but wouldn’t visit if we had to pay full price or with full points, and to see family we don’t get to see as often as we would like. We need to plan in advance because the earlier you plan, the lower the points used for a free ticket and our business requires us to block out time early. No problem–I can think of worse situations; like not being able to travel at all.

Here’s our short list of places of places to travel in 2014:

Portland
Minneapolis–to drive up to the lakes in northern Minnesota
Milwaukee (Bob’s brother)
Austin
Nashville (Shari’s family)
Washington D.C.

Lessons Learned–Here’s How You Should Plan Your Southwest Airline Companion Pass Strategy

Doing it again, I would have gotten both credit cards closer together at the beginning of the year so I wouldn’t have to stress out to reach the 110,000 point level by the end of the calendar year. Plus, the earlier you reach the level, the faster you get the Companion Pass so you would actually be getting it for the remaining months in the year you achieve the pass PLUS the following calendar year.

Some people complain the Chase Rapid Rewards credit cards come with an annual fee of either $65 or $95 per year depending on the card. But I think that’s shortsighted because with 50,000 bonus points you automatically get at least 2 roundtrip tickets in addition to the chance to earn a companion pass for tons more free travel. (When you apply for the cards, you must make sure you are on a credit card application page that shows the 50,000 bonus.)

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