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What are companion passes and how do they work?

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

Updated

Fact checked

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

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card logo

Up to 80,000-point

Signup bonus if you meet spend requirements for both bonuses

  • $75 in Southwest travel credits annually
  • 5x points on Southwest between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 per month (then 2x points)
  • 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
5x points on Southwest between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month, then 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 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, plus 30,000 after spending $10,000 in the first 9 months.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
5x points on Southwest between 12/1/2020 and 3/31/2021 on up to $2,000 spent per month, then 2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$69
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 30,000 after spending $10,000 in the first 9 months.
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

AirlinesHow to earnWhat companion paysCredit cards
Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines logo
  • Earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points

Or

  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
  • Applicable fees and taxes
Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines logo
  • Get a pass each account renewal year
  • Applicable fees and taxes
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines logo
  • Meet the signup bonus requirements of your Alaska Airlines cobranded card
  • Get a pass each account anniversary
  • $99 plus applicable fees and taxes
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
  • Alaska Airlines Visa® Business credit card
Aeromexico
AeroMexico logo
  • Open your credit card account
  • Applicable fees and taxes
  • Aeromexico Visa Signature® Card
  • Aeromexico Visa® Card
  • AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines logo
  • Open your credit card account
  • Get a pass each account anniversary
  • 50% off (intro offer only)
  • $100 discount on fare (each anniversary year)
  • Applicable fees and taxes
  • Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®
  • Hawaiian Airlines® Business Mastercard®
British Airways
British Airways logo
  • Spend $30,000 in purchases each calendar year
  • Get a pass that’s valid each renewed calendar year
  • Applicable taxes and fees
  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card
American Airlines
American Airlines logo
  • Spend $30,000 in purchases in 12 months
  • Get a pass that’s valid each renewed cardmembership year
  • $99 plus applicable taxes and fees
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®
  • AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver Mastercard®
Lufthansa Airlines
Lufthansa Airlines Logo Image: Supplied
  • Make your first purchase on your account
  • Receive every anniversary year the account stays open
  • Applicable taxes and fees
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus logo
  • Spend $30,000 in purchases in 12 months
  • Get a pass that’s valid each renewed calendar year
  • Applicable taxes and fees
  • Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Credit Card
Iberia
Iberia airlines logo
  • Spend $20,000 in purchases in 12 months
  • Get a pass that’s valid each renewed calendar year
  • $1,000 discount voucher applicable toward two tickets on the same flight

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.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I transfer my companion pass?
    It depends. Some airlines allow you to transfer your pass before they issue it to your account. Check your card terms and conditions.
  • Does my companion pass expire?
    Probably. Most companion passes require you to redeem them within a certain timeframe from when they’re issued.
  • Does my companion pass have blackout dates?
    It depends. Some companion pass programs feature blackout dates while others do not. Check your card terms and conditions.

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