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What are companion passes and how do they work?

Get an additional airline ticket for a reduced or waived price.

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Fact checked

Our pick for companion passes: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card logo

40,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $1,000 in first 3 months

  • Enjoy $75 in Southwest travel credits annually
  • Earn 2x points on Southwest, hotels and rental cars
  • Get 7,500 points each card anniversary
See offer
Getting a companion ticket can be one of the most cost-effective methods for traveling if you often fly with a family member, friend or colleague. Sometimes you can earn a companion ticket by making enough purchases with an airline credit card. Though earning such a reward usually requires a high spending threshold, here are some cards that reward you with a companion pass by simply being a card member.

What is a companion pass?

A companion pass is an 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.

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 airline to airline, but most follow a similar structure:

  • You earn the companion pass by meeting specific eligibility requirements.
  • Once you’ve obtained the pass, you can redeem it to add your companion on a particular flight.
  • 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 previously booked flight.

Compare credit cards that help you earn companion offers

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$149
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.
British Airways Visa Signature® Card
3x Avios on British Airways and partner airlines, 2x on hotels and 1x on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus 50,000 Avios after spending $20,000 in the first year
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$99
Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$69
Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
3x miles on Delta and direct hotel purchases, 2x miles at restaurants and US supermarkets and 1x miles for all other purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
$250
This card boasts a welcome offer worth up to $720, an annual companion certificate and valuable Delta perks. Rates & fees
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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 to earn a companion ticket. For example, American Airlines requires you spend $30,000 each year to earn the ticket.

  • Membership requirements.

    Other airlines — such as Alaska Airlines — merely require you to maintain card membership. Alaska Airlines will give you a companion ticket 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 often only last for a short time, 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
Lufthansa Airlines Logo Image: Supplied
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus logo
Iberia
Iberia airlines logo

How to book a companion pass

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. However, not all passes are worth basing your credit card choices around, so compare your companion pass and credit card options to find the ideal combination of perk and purchasing power.

If earning a companion pass seems enticing, but you’re still not sure whether these cards would be a good choice, check out other airline credit cards and compare your options.

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