Last week we were SO excited to find out we reached one of our most anticipated goals for 2020, which was to be awarded our Southwest Airlines companion pass. For those of you who are apparently living under a rock and have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, allow me to explain.
When you either reach 125,000 Rapid Rewards points or complete 100 one way flights within one calendar year, you receive the benefit of bringing a designated companion along with you on any flight you take at no additional cost. (Well, except the taxes which are $5.60 and up.) In simple terms, you get BOGO flights. The earlier in the year you accomplish this the better. We earned ours in May which means we get to take advantage of companion pass for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021. For two people who love nothing more than getting on a plane, you now understand my excitement!
Receiving your companion pass is not an easy task unless you can literally spend money however and whenever you want. We are always shopping and traveling on a budget, not to mention we are both out of work due to a worldwide pandemic, so you might be wondering how the heck we made this happen. It took strategy, along with a little bit of luck.
Each point equals $1 to Southwest unless you know how to work the system. Clearly we did not spend $125,000 from January-May. HA. Not even close. Here are the steps you need to take:
1. Open A Southwest Credit Card
This is the most obvious way to begin your journey toward companion pass. When you are a new cardholder with Southwest, you get tons of bonus points for opening up a credit card with them as long as you spend a certain amount of money within the first 3 months. (It’s not hard to do!) We opened a business card at the very beginning of January, which gets you the most points. After 3 months we were awarded 70,000 points. Yes, you heard that right. If you don’t have a business you can open a regular card with them and get up to 40,000 points which is still a great way to start! The key is to begin this process at the very beginning of the year so you have enough time to get to 125,000 points before the year is up! Your qualifying companion pass points go back to zero once January hits again.
2. Never Use Your Debit Card Again
I am not sure why anyone uses a debit card anymore considering all the different rewards that are offered by credit cards these days. From cash back to airline miles to hotel points, the credit card perks are so great that it doesn’t make sense to swipe a debit card for anything ever. I was frightened to attempt this credit card life at first, but we decided to be super diligent about paying it off once a week in order to keep our balance at zero. Every single bill (except our mortgage of course) and every purchase goes to the Southwest card. You’d be surprised how quickly the points add up, even if you’re not a huge spender!
3. Book Your Next Hotel Through Southwest
Okay, I’m going to be honest. This is the best advice you’re going to get out of this entire blog post so pay attention. I am someone who is constantly researching where to travel to next and am always looking for a deal, so one day I decided to click the “Book a Hotel” link on Southwest’s website just to see if they had any great offers. Well it turns out there are certain properties in basically every single city that are labeled “Rapid Rewards Plus” properties. These hotels offer extra Southwest points when you book with them. I’m talking up to 30,000 points depending on the location and length of your stay. I searched far and wide on forums and Southwest’s website to try and find out if these points did indeed count toward companion pass. I honestly could not get a direct answer anywhere. I even called their 1-800 number and the customer service representative had no idea. Like, what?! So I decided we needed to take the chance and find out for ourselves, with hopes that it would work.
A couple weeks ago we drove down to Gulf Shores, AL since the beaches had re-opened there and we were in desperate need of a change of scenery. I found an absolutely stunning property through Southwest called The Lodge at Gulf State Park and it advertised that a three night’s stay in an oceanfront room would reward us an additional 14,000 Southwest points. It was a little more pricey than we would’ve liked to pay for a hotel in Alabama (around $200/night plus taxes), but it was totally worth it for the amount of points we were getting, and for the view from our room!
A week after returning, Jordan got an email saying “Congratulations. You just earned 14,000 Southwest points..” so I grabbed his phone and pulled up his Southwest app. I squealed with excitement when I saw that the hotel points did indeed count toward our goal of 125,000 points. SUCCESS!
4. Find The Positives During A Pandemic
I would obviously never wish this pandemic to repeat itself ever again, but if it weren’t for the entire world shutting down, we wouldn’t have gotten to our goal so quickly. Recently Southwest was gracious enough to reward every Rapid Rewards member an additional 25,000 points toward companion pass to make up for the fact that no one has been able to travel or spend money like normal for most of 2020. Once they announced that we knew we’d get there in no time. (This is where the luck came in for us!) We still would have gotten it this year, but this helped us get it so much sooner!
Between our bonus points for opening the credit card, our regular monthly purchases, the hotel stay and the extra points from the pandemic, we got to 125,000 at the beginning of this month. You are awarded the pass the instant you hit the points so every Southwest flight we book from now until the end of 2021 is going to be 2 for 1! If only Southwest flew to Europe we’d really be set. But we’re thinking Hawaii 2021 and I can’t wait!!
I hope you found this helpful, informative and inspirational when it comes to your future travels! I am constantly encouraging people to visit new places and step out of their comfort zones. It’s personally my favorite thing to do and you don’t have to go broke doing it! I’m praying you are all safe and healthy and I hope you’re as excited as I am for traveling in the (hopefully) very near future!