Southwest's Companion Pass Is A Great Deal But To Earn It, You'll Need A Strategy

If you want to make travel friends quickly, earn the Companion Pass by Southwest Airlines. This frequent flyer reward is possibly the best deal in the travel industry. The Companion Pass allows a fellow traveler to fly Southwest for free with you on an unlimited amount of flights. Not one flight or two. Your companions can fly for free for the lifetime of the pass. While the Companion Pass isn't the easiest travel perk to earn, it's not impossible. You'll just need to apply a little strategy.

While the idea of unlimited free flights is exciting enough, the free-flying timeframe to utilize the Companion Pass is next level. Once you qualify, you'll have the remainder of the present calendar year and the entire next year to use your pass. For frequent Southwest travelers, this could save you thousands, whether you're traveling with colleagues of a small business or just prefer a friendlier sky with travel-ready companions.

Jumpstart earning points with a welcome bonus

Like most golden opportunities, a little digging is required to earn a Companion Pass. Currently, you'll need to earn 135,000 qualifying points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights within a calendar year. While taking 100 flights may be a bit tough (but not impossible), earning 135,000 qualifying points is achievable, especially if you leverage the bonuses of co-branded Southwest credit cards.

You can earn Companion Pass-qualifying points by flying Southwest, staying at Southwest partner hotels, renting cars with partners, shopping and dining with partnering businesses, or making purchases with a co-branded Southwest credit card. By far, the best strategy to earn BOGO Southwest flights is to open one (or possibly two) Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. We should mention that transferred points from other loyalty programs will not contribute to earning a Companion Pass, nor can you purchase points for the pass.

To jumpstart your earning, personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards currently reward new members with a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $3000 within three months. So after the 60,000 points and at least 3000 points for spending on the credit card, you'll have a healthy 63,000 points to start. But if you want to really rocket-ship your jumpstart, you can also open a business card.

Maximize your pass with strategic timing

While Southwest doesn't allow you to open two personal cards, you can open a business card and a personal card. Southwest business credit cards provide either 60,000 or 80,000 bonus points, depending on the card you choose. Either way, if you open two cards (and meet spending requirements), you've almost or already met the 135,000-point threshold. But to maximize your Companion Pass, timing is everything.

As stated, you can utilize your Companion Pass for the present calendar year and the entire following year. If you're approved for a card and start spending for the holiday season, you'll start racking up points in January with your next statement. Southwest also offers an additional 10,000 points annually to cardholders each new calendar year. By timing your credit card bonuses with the anniversary bonus, you can possibly enjoy nearly two full years of free flights for travel companions. The Companion Pass by Southwest Airlines is one of the travel industry's most lucrative rewards. Earning one just takes a little strategy.