Last year, Southwest ran a blockbuster credit card offer that scored travelers 2-for-1 travel, but the airline's current deal could be even better
- In early 2019, three Southwest credit cards ran an amazing offer: You could earn the Companion Pass after spending $4,000 in the first three months. However, this offer only got you the pass through the end of that same calendar year.
- I think the current Southwest credit card welcome bonuses are even better, because if you use them to earn the Companion Pass, you can fly with a free companion for the rest of 2020, plus all of 2021.
- The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card are all offering up to 75,000 points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, and another 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
- 75,000 points gets you more than halfway toward meeting the requirements for the Companion Pass. You can use Southwest flights and credit card spending to get the rest of the way there, and then you have the pass for well over a year.
- See Business Insider's list of the best airline credit cards »
If you fly Southwest Airlines, chances are you heard about the credit card offer in 2019 that could earn you the Companion Pass for spending $4,000 in your first three months as a cardholder.
Unsurprisingly, this deal was a huge hit. The Companion Pass allows you to choose one person to fly with for almost free (taxes and fees are not covered), and earning the Companion Pass the "normal way" required earning 115,000 "qualifying points" in a calendar year. That threshold has since increased to 125,000 points. So the ability to earn it by meeting one credit card spending requirement was a much quicker route to enjoying two-for-one travel.
That offer has yet to come back, but you still have options if you want a shortcut to earning the Companion Pass. In fact, I think the current offer on Southwest's three personal credit cards has the potential to be even more valuable than last year's offer, because you can leverage this bonus to earn the Companion Pass for well over one year.
The current sign-up bonus offers up to 75,000 Southwest points, which gets you more than halfway toward qualifying for the Companion Pass. If you pair this offer with spending on your credit card, a Southwest business credit card bonus, or qualifying Southwest flights, you can earn the Companion Pass for the rest of 2020, plus all of 2021.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Use the current Southwest credit card offer to earn the Companion Pass
Currently, the three consumer Southwest credit cards are offering an elevated sign-up bonus. You'll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, and another 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
That offer is available on the following three cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card ($149 annual fee)
To qualify for the Companion Pass, you need to earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Earning 75,000 points with this sign-up bonus would leave you 50,000 points shy of the requirement, but when you factor in the points you'd earn from meeting the minimum spending requirement to earn the 75,000-point bonus, you'd actually earn at least 81,000 points - leaving you just 44,000 points short of the Companion Pass requirement.
Read more: Southwest credit card comparison
How to earn the rest of the points
You have a few options for making up the difference. The quickest option is to apply for a Southwest business credit card and earn its sign-up bonus, since that would get you more than enough points to earn the Companion Pass. Not only is this the simplest solution, but this could help you maximize your time with the Companion Pass, because the sooner you meet the 125,000-point threshold, the longer you'll have to enjoy this benefit.
You could be able to qualify for a business credit card even if you don't have a formal business. If you're a freelancer, for example, that's likely enough to make you eligible.
Here are the Southwest business credit cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card - Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card - Earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months ($199 annual fee)
That option won't work for everyone, though, in which case you'll want to look into booking travel on Southwest to help make up the difference.
If you have any upcoming trips planned, consider booking flights with Southwest if possible, since paid flights will earn you points toward the Companion Pass as well.
In addition to earning 2x to 3x points on Southwest purchases if you pay with a Southwest credit card, you'll earn 6 to 10 points per dollar when you book flights through Southwest depending on what type of fare you book.
Finally, you could consider paying your federal tax return with a Southwest credit card. Unless you have a very large bill, that spending probably won't get you all the way toward earning the Companion Pass, but by putting all your spending on a Southwest credit card, you should be able to chip away at the requirement.
Our favorite Southwest card: Click here to learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority card »
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.