What are companion passes and how do they work? - finder.com
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What are companion passes and how do they work?

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There are many kinds of passes, so you’ll likely find one that fits your needs.

A companion pass is a airline perk that can be used to get a companion a reduced or waived airline ticket on a flight you’ve purchased for yourself. This perk is commonly offered by premium airline credit cards and is one of the most sought-after travel benefits.

Not all companion pass offers are the same. Some are more valuable and harder to earn than others. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most well-known companion pass programs and which credit cards can help you earn them.

What is a companion pass?

A companion pass allows you to book a reduced or waived airline ticket for a companion on a flight you’ve purchased for yourself. Cobranded airline credit cards can help you earn airline companion passes.

Different airlines call their companion passes by different names, such as companion certificate or companion fare, so take care when browsing your options.

How does a companion pass work?

The details of each companion pass differ from provider to provider, but most follow a similar structure:

  • You earn the pass first by meeting specific eligibility requirements.
  • Once you’ve obtained the pass, you can redeem it on a particular flight to add your companion.
  • For most companion passes, you redeem your pass when signing up for your purchased flight. Most airlines don’t allow you to “add on” a companion pass to a flight you booked prior.

Compare credit cards that help you earn companion offers

Name Product Filter values Annual Fee APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer
$450
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$195
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after you make $3,000 in purchases on your new card within your first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$149
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.
$99
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and 1x points on all other purchases. Plus 6,000 anniversary bonus points.
$99
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to get a companion pass.

Fulfill your cobranded credit card’s requirements to earn a pass. These typically include:

  • Spending requirements.

    Some airlines require you to spend a certain value on eligible purchases in a given year for companion pass access. American Airlines, for example, requires you spend $30,000.

  • Membership requirements.

    Other airlines, such as Alaska, merely require you to maintain card membership. Alaska Airlines will give you a companion pass on each card account anniversary date.

  • Point requirements.

    Some programs, such as Southwest’s Rapid Rewards, require you to earn a certain number of points on your account before you can get a companion pass.

  • Welcome offer.

    On rare occasions, a credit card might offer a companion pass as part of the introductory bonus. These offers don’t often last long, so taking advantage of such a deal is a great value.

Companion pass comparison

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines logo
Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines logo
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines logo
Aeromexico
AeroMexico logo
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines logo
British Airways
British Airways logo
American Airlines
American Airlines logo
Lufthansa Airlines
Southwest Airlines logo
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus logo
Iberia
Iberia airlines logo

How to book companion passes

Booking your companion pass will vary slightly depending on the airline. You can check out details for booking on your individual companion pass page.

Generally, most airlines will either post the pass to your account or send you a ticket featuring redemption information. Once you have this information, you can redeem the code online when you book your primary fare or call the airline to redeem your pass.

Bottom line

Companion passes can be a valuable credit card perk if you like to travel with a companion. Not all passes are worth basing your credit card choices around however, so compare your companion pass and credit card options to find the ideal combination of perk and purchasing power.

Frequently asked questions

Steven Dashiell

As Credit Cards Staff Writer at finder.com, Steven Dashiell wields nearly a decade of research and reporting experience to help you embrace and maximize your credit card life. Prior to working at finder, Steve served as reporter and editor for several health care newsletters, offering best practices and guides to help caregivers best protect their patients' health. When not writing, he enjoys creating art, exploring nature and chasing his next big interest.

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