If you want to be free to fly around the country (and slightly beyond), with a friend, the best deal around is the Southwest Companion Pass. The deal is simple: earn 110,000 Southwest points in one calendar year and you’ll get a Companion Pass valid for the rest of that year and all of the next year. While the Companion Pass is valid, it can be used an unlimited number of times. Simply book a flight for yourself, with cash or points, and then at any time before the flight you can add your companion for free (unfortunately, TSA fees apply so your companion is really only almost free). See our Complete Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass for more information on this valuable benefit.
You can earn points, of course, by flying Southwest on paid tickets. Southwest’s low price fares, called “Wanna Get Away” fares, earn 6 points per dollar. So, anyone can earn a Companion Pass “simply” by flying a bit over $18,000 worth of Wanna Get Away flights. Or, you can spend half that much on expensive Business Select fares. Either way, it’s a lot of money and a lot of flying.
Sadly, some of the best options for earning the Southwest Companion Pass recently went away. It used to be possible to earn Companion Pass qualifying points simply by transferring points from hotel programs. Transferring Marriott, Hyatt, and Choice hotel points were all good options for some. But that all changed on January 1 2017. Now, points transferred from hotel and car rental programs do not count towards the Companion Pass. Please see: Southwest kills best option for earning Companion Pass. Update: Points transferred from hotel & car rental programs, and from Diners Club, will count towards the Companion Pass through March 31 2017.
Luckily, there are still several shortcuts for earning the pass…
Credit card bonuses
Chase frequently offers 50,000 bonus points for signing up for their Southwest cards. There are three versions of the card: Premier, Premier Business, and Plus. The Plus card costs $69 per year. The Premier cards cost $99. The 50,000 point bonuses (found here, when available) currently require $2K spend in three months. An easy way to get 110,000 points in a hurry is to sign up for two of these cards and spend a combined $10,000 across the two cards. Ideally, you would time the sign-ups and spend so that the points would be earned as early in a calendar year as possible. That way, you’ll have the Companion Pass for nearly two years.
Credit card bonus total cost for 110,000 miles and a Companion Pass: ~$368
Assuming you sign up for one Premier card and one Plus card, you’ll pay a total of $168 in first year annual fees. Next, let’s look at how much you would have earned had you put the $10K spend on a 2% cash back card: $200. We’ll call that the opportunity cost of putting spend on the Southwest cards rather than the 2% cash back card. Therefore, the total cost (annual fees plus opportunity cost) comes to $368. That’s an incredible bargain for 110,000 points plus a Companion Pass!
Unfortunately, Chase does apply its 5/24 rule to these cards. That means that you most likely won’t get approved if you’ve opened 5 or more cards (with any bank) in the past 24 months.
Credit card spend
If you’re a big spender, then another way to get the Companion Pass is to simply charge $110,000 worth of expenses on a Southwest credit card. Done.
Credit card spend total cost for 110,000 miles and a Companion Pass: ~$2,200
If you were to put $110,000 in spend on a 2% cash back card, you would earn $2,200 cash back. So, the opportunity cost of this approach is $2,200.
1-800-Flowers lets you earn 1,000 Companion Pass qualifying Southwest points per order with promo code RR22. To qualify, orders must be $29.99 or more and only one promo code can be used per order. The trick, then, is to place 110 separate $30 orders to get 110,000 points and the Companion Pass. First, though, you’ll need to sign up for the Celebration Passport program (for $29.99) in order to get free shipping and handling on all of these orders.
1-800-Flowers total cost for 110,000 miles and a Companion Pass: $1665 to $3,300+
At worst, you would pay $30 x 110 = $3,300 plus ~$30 for Celebration Passport = $3,330. If your deliveries include sales tax (not all states collect sales tax for flower deliveries) your total will be even more. Often, though, it’s possible to cut your costs in half or better. For full (and complex) details, please see: 1800Flowers Extreme Stacking promo codes, portals, gift cards, and more.
If you do a lot of online shopping, you can earn points that qualify for the Companion Pass by shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal. The portal offers different point bonuses for different stores. It’s often possible to earn 5 or more points per dollar for shopping at popular merchants. Note that points from seasonal portal bonuses (such as “Spend $300, get 500 bonus points”) do not count towards the Companion Pass.
Online shopping total cost for 110,000 miles and a Companion Pass: $1,100?
It’s hard to estimate the cost of this approach. Using a shopping portal is free, however there is an opportunity cost of using the Southwest portal instead of, say, a cash back portal. Portal rebate rates vary tremendously though, so it’s impossible to say exactly what that opportunity cost is. If we assume, on average, that you earn 5 points per dollar through the Southwest portal, but could have earned 5% cash back, then we can calculate the opportunity cost as $22,000 in spend at 5% cash back = $1,100.
Mix and match
You do not have to earn all of the 110,000 points with a single method. You could earn some points with a single credit card bonus, other points with credit card spend, more points via online shopping, etc.
Stuff that doesn’t count
“Companion Pass Qualifying Points” are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.
Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.
In practice, we have found that the following things do count:
- Paid flight activity
- Points earned from credit card spend, including the signup bonus
- Points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal (however, seasonal bonuses from the portal do not count)
- Most (but not all) points earned from partners
The following do not count:
- Points purchased or gifted
- Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Points transferred from other loyalty programs
- Some partner bonuses. For example, when 1800Flowers occasionally offers a promo code for 1750 points per order, those points do not qualify.
Hi. Stacked 2 SW Chase cards and was able to gain companion pass pretty quickly. How long do I have to keep the cards active before cancelling. I don’t need both open with zero balance other than getting renewal points in a year. I could live with one just for SW ticket purchases.
I like to keep all new cards open for a full year. Cancel when the annual fee hits so that you don’t have to pay for it for another year.
A friend of mine is trying to get the companion pass and ordered multiple orders through 1-800-Flowers using RR22 using gift cards. They are now saying Gift card purchases do not qualify to earn SW points. Has anyone else run into this? It does not state in the T&C’s anything about the payment method.
Yes, this has happened to a number of people. The trouble started when 1800Flowers stopped letting you earn Celebrations Rewards points when using gift cards. It seems that many of their employees got confused and thought that it meant that you shouldn’t earn any points when using gift cards, including Southwest points. If you keep contacting them you should be able to get to someone who understands that your orders should earn Southwest points.
[…] when a member earns 110,000 qualifying Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. See our useful summary of which points do and do not count towards the Companion Pass for more information about what counts towards the 110,000 […]
I ordered flowers the that were delivered the first of Feb. and my points have posted and it looks like it counted towards my companion pass.
Yep. With flowers just make sure to read the fine print. Most flowers deals do count, but some explicitly do not (usually the 1750 points per order deals do NOT count)
Do the 2,000 points for the case of wine count towards spending to get the sign up bonus and/or towards the companion pass? It’s almost too good to be true. I’d spend money on wine any way, this way I just get points for it.
I have not ordered wine, however the description states: “2,000 bonus points on an introductory wine club case of 12 top-estate wines”
The key word is “bonus.” In my experience, any time “bonus” is in the description, it does NOT count toward the CP.
Yes- both were delivered last week, 1/10 & 1/12- so hopefully they show up this week?
They’ll probably show up this week. In my experience, Southwest tends to post earned miles from non-flights on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Can you post if/when you receive the points?
I had posted a question regarding the points still being given despite the offer T&Cs showing an expiration of last year. While I did receive my points, I had placed the order last year, so I’m not sure it was a definitive test.
I ordered flowers & wine last week & to date, no points have posted.
Have they been delivered? If I recall correctly, points are not posted until they are delivered. Even then, it’ll take a few days.
For reference: I placed an order last year for delivery on Jan 5th. They actually delivered on the 4th. The points hit my account on Jan 10th.
Has anyone ordered from 1-800-Flowers using the RR22 code THIS year? The T&Cs show the code as expiring on 12/31/16, and I’d hate to see them wiggle out of granting the points based on that technicality.
Update: Points transferred from hotel programs (and a number of other sources) WILL count towards the Companion Pass through March 31 2017. https://frequentmiler.com/2017/01/05/southwest-companion-pass-hotel-transfers/
Just now got an email from Southwest congratulating me on my Companion Pass. Except I haven’t qualified this year and my last one just expired. Thanks for rubbing salt into the wound Southwest!
Same here! Thought maybe I’d gotten the equivalent of a mistake fare. Finally ran across the fine print near the bottom of the e-mail that said… “The account information in this email is only an estimate for a specific point in time…” Pretty bad estimate if you ask me! :-O
Does ordering the Celebration Passport Program for $29.99 from 1800flowers count as an order that would generate 1000 SWST points?
How about Southwest’s wine club and Rapid rewards ding. They are good for meeting the $6k spend needing to get from the two credit card offers.
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@Greg, do you have any insight into booking hotels through southwesthotels.com? I’ve read recently that you can book hotels through the site and earn thousands of companion pass eligible points. For example, a mid-week stay in January at the Magnolia in Denver for $300 will earn 8,000 points. Seems like a great value, especially if you need the stay. I don’t believe one will earn hotel loyalty stay/night however. Still worth it in my opinion, but wanted to see if you had any confirmation of such.
For the most part (havent crunched the numbers) I imagine this is a bad deal considering you don’t earn Hotel pts, etc for the stay.
No, I saw a post on the topic somewhere, but I haven’t looked into it.
Since you earn 100,000 points after the two $2000 spends yielding you 104,000 total points between the 2 cards; all you need to get Companion Pass is another 6000 points; not an additional $10,000.
The opportunity cost inclusion of the 2% cash back you’d earn if you weren’t spending on the card assumes zero value of the 1 Southwest point/$ you earn for that credit card spend. Those points have value too (I peg them about about 1.3 cpp), so the opportunity costs figures are less than half of the quoted amounts.
I would agree with you if I was estimating the cost to acquire the Companion Pass by itself, but I was estimating the cost to acquire both the 110,000 points and the Companion Pass. In the latter case, the value of the points doesn’t inform the cost, but rather whether or not it is a good deal.
Just curious about this argument and wondering your thoughts because this is something I’ve though of before in regards to opportunity cost. If we assume that one would have to MS the 10k to get to 110k and would never otherwise spend the extra 10k simply for 1x southwest points (or I suppose 6k after meeting min spends, but nonetheless). And then if we also assume that one would never otherwise bother to MS simply for the purposes of earning 2% cash back, is there really a true opportunity cost here?
I realize there’s a few assumptions there, but I think for people who don’t have very much organic spend it holds water.
Yes, I agree completely. I don’t know what methods people will use to MS, so I find it convenient to estimate a 2% cost regardless of whether we’re talking about actual costs or opportunity cost. Of course, those who ms will usually have much lower fees, so these numbers are very conservative.
“Sadly, some of the best options for earning the Southwest Companion Pass recently went away.”
Some of the best options? Only ONE went away. Transfers from hotels to SW. That’s it. ONE.
Talk about blowing things out of per portion.
I agree that only one thing has changed, but that has resulted in the loss of multiple opportunities:
1. Redeeming Marriott points for a travel package including 120K Southwest points
2. Buying Choice Privilege points cheaply during sales and then converting them to Southwest
3. Converting Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and then to Southwest
About two years ago, southwest clarified their rules and said points from flower deliveries will not count towards companion pass. Has that changed?
I agree. That avenue got shutdown last year when they were offering the 1750 point bonus. Are there any new data points that say it is alive?
That change was specific to enhanced point earning promos. For example, the promo offering 1750 points per order specifically says in its T&C that points are not companion pass eligible, but RR22 (1,000 points per order) has continued to work and does not have that language.
I need to finish the last 5K miles on my companion pass and the 1-800 flowers option seems like the cheapest. Has anyone used this (RR22) recently and can confirm that it counts toward Companion pass? Also, how long does it usually take to post to the account? THANKS!
Once you have a Southwest Chase credit card, you can earn 5,000 RRs per referral… if Chase keeps the referrals going. The last email I got from Chase was for up to 50,000 points, so 10 referrals. In the past, those points have counted toward the Companion Pass.
That’s a good one, thanks for the tip!
I’ve noticed the Southwest Shopping Portal has been much less recently than in the past… example, I think Sears is a whopping 1x.
I really miss the days that we saw 8x-12x for sears on airline portals