The Southwest Companion Pass is a benefit that allows you to bring one companion to fly with you on flights booked through Southwest Airlines. With the Southwest Companion Pass, your companion will only pay taxes and fees throughout the Companion Pass term. And the cool part? This applies to both paid and tickets bought with points.
For some, the Southwest Companion Pass is the crème de la crème of airline companion passes, and it’s easy to see why: Once you’ve earned it, you’re free to use it as many times as you want on eligible flights for the remainder of the pass — with some exceptions.
How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Ways to earn
100 qualifying one-way flights
One-way flights booked through Southwest
Earn 125,000 qualifying points
Revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines
Points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, including anniversary points
Base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners
Once you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll use it for the remainder of that year, plus the following full calendar year.
Do any Southwest cards offer Companion Pass?
No. This isn’t much of a surprise given the overall value of a Companion Pass. However, Southwest credit cards do help you earn a Companion Pass in two ways:
The card’s signup bonus. The Rapid Rewards points you earn from a Southwest credit card signup bonus counts as qualifying points toward the 125,000 points you need for the Companion Pass. This gives you a huge boost toward nabbing the pass and is especially useful if you open your account and earn the bonus early in the year.
The card’s earning categories. Any points you earn through everyday spending will also count as Companion Pass qualifying points.
What is the best way to earn a Southwest Companion Pass?
For most consumers, the fastest and simplest way to earn a Companion Pass is through a combination of Southwest flights and using a Southwest credit card. This method relies on a big point boost thanks to a Southwest card’s signup bonus followed by accelerated points through smart spending. You can also use the Southwest shopping portal to earn additional points.
How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass without flying
The only card that can earn you the Southwest Companion Pass by just clearing the signup bonus is the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card. With this card, you get to earn up to 100,000 points — 70,000 bonus points once you spend $5,000 within your first 3 months of card membership, and an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.
With the $25,000 spent to clear the bonus — assuming you spend them on the 1x points category — you would earn an additional 25,000 points, which is just enough to meet the Companion Pass requirements.
Spending needed to reach 125,000 qualifying points with Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Spending each month
Total spending per year
6x points on Wanna Get Away fare + 2x points using your Southwest credit card
As you can see, using a Southwest credit card and clearing its signup bonus makes it easier to get earn the companion pass.
In subsequent years, you won’t have that initial bonus point windfall, so plan your long-term spending if you want to keep chasing the Southwest Companion Pass dragon. We also recommend applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. These cards offer the highest anniversary points at 6,000 and 7,500 respectively, which count toward your required qualifying points.
How to use a Southwest Companion Pass
Using the Southwest Companion Pass is relatively simple once you’ve earned it.
Select your companion. You can do this by logging into your account and clicking Enter companion information under your profile settings.
Book your flight. Book your primary flight in cash or points through Southwest Airlines.
Book your companion’s flight. After booking your primary flight, you can book for your companion by choosing the Rapid Rewards Companion Pass booking option on the Southwest website or by calling the toll-free reservations number at 800-248-4377. The option for adding a companion is usually listed below your flight information.
Be sure you’ve scheduled correctly. Both the primary and companion flight must be booked on the same flights and dates.
How to get the most out of your Southwest Companion Pass offer
With how much work it takes to earn a Southwest Companion Pass, it pays to squeeze as much value out of it as possible. Here are some quick tips for doing so:
Earn the ticket early in the year. If possible, try to earn your intro bonus early in the year. The Companion Pass is good for the entirety of the year you earned it and the following calendar year. If you earn the pass early, you could enjoy nearly two years of this benefit.
Bring a friend on rewards flights. The Southwest Companion Pass is applicable to rewards flights in addition to purchased flights. This means your Rapid Rewards points are practically worth double when you redeem them on flights and bring your companion.
Change your designated companion. You can change your companion three times each year. Considering the first year you get to choose one companion and then change it three times, technically you can switch your companion seven times while your Southwest Companion Pass lasts.
Redeem your pass on expensive flights. Unlike some airlines, Southwest offers international flight opportunities with their Companion Pass. This means big value if you bring your companion along for the ride.
Fly often. The most valuable part of the pass is you’re not limited to only one flight. Take the opportunity to make as many travel plans as possible that also include your companion.
Read more about earning and using Companion Passes
Whether you’re chasing down qualifying points or ready to use your Companion Pass, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
Transferred and purchased points don’t count toward the pass. Points transferred to your Southwest account from another credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, don’t count as qualifying points. Similarly, points transferred from another Southwest account or purchased to your account directly won’t count either.
Taxes and fees apply. You’re responsible for taxes and fees associated with a Companion Pass flight, which start at $5.60 for one-way flight.
You can only have one companion. You must designate a specific individual as your companion member. You can only change this individual three times each calendar year.
You’re unlikely to qualify for two Southwest cards. Chase generally enforces a “one card” rule when it comes to Southwest. If you have a Southwest card already, Chase is unlikely to approve you for another.
Companion Passes are good for the following year. You can use an earned Companion Pass the year you earn it, as well as the following calendar year. If you time it right, this means you can potentially use your pass for up to two years.
Companions don’t earn qualifying points. If you’re aiming for your next Companion Pass after earning your first, don’t factor your companion flights into your points equation. Companion flights don’t earn qualifying points toward your next Companion Pass.
Your companion flight mirrors your own. If you cancel or change a flight, your companion’s flight will be canceled. If rebooking, you may need to manually add your companion to your new flight.
Southwest credit cards with welcome offers
While there are no Southwest cards that offer a companion offer as a bonus, all can help you earn qualifying points. Use our comparison table below to compare them side-by-side:
Meeting the eligibility requirements for Southwest’s Companion Pass is challenging, but if you can take advantage of the introductory bonus — or a rare Companion Pass welcome offer when they happen — you’ll find unmatched value in Southwest’s offering.
If you don’t fly Southwest or you’re looking for a program that’s a little easier to obtain, compare your airline card options to find a companion fare that suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
No. A Companion Pass flight is not a purchased flight and can’t be used in conjunction with another Companion Pass.
Yes. You can use your Companion Pass on international flights, so long as it’s a Southwest Airlines itinerary.
No. Tier bonus points don’t apply to your Companion Pass qualifying points.
Steven Dashiell is a credit cards writer at Finder. He's worked on 250 Finder articles and counting, helping readers embrace and maximize credit cards. Backed by nearly a decade of research and reporting experience, Steve's work can be seen on Debt.com, CreditCards.com and Lifehacker.
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