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The consumer versions of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards have updated their bonus offers: you can now earn a Companion Pass valid through 2/28/23 and 30,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements on each of the three consumer Rapid Rewards credit cards. Personally, I find this offer lukewarm for all but the few who will really leverage the Companion Pass this year.
The Offers & Key Card Details
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Just this morning, I posted my 2022 evaluation of whether the Southwest Companion Pass is “worth it”. With increasingly dynamic pricing from other carriers and more flexibility granted by the elimination of award change and cancellation fees by major competitors, the Companion Pass just doesn’t offer as much savings as it did in years past.
To be clear, the Companion Pass certainly can still be awesome. If you’re able to use it often, if you prefer flying Southwest, or even if you’re booking last-minute at a time when awards are exorbitantly expensive on all of the major airlines, the Companion Pass can certainly save you miles or money.
In this morning’s post, I analyzed 3 routes from each of 5 airports (a total of 15 routes) to see how much two passengers stand to save by booking with a Companion Pass. My sample size was small and method unscientific, but in my examples the average savings came out to 4,545 miles/points compared to best alternative program. That assumes a constant value of airline miles across programs which isn’t realistic for everyone but provides a reference point from which to measure the value of the new Companion Pass bonus.
Given that we have often seen bonuses on these cards in the range of 60K points or more and that the current offer still yields 30K bonus points, I would say that you want to know you’ll get at least 30K points in value out of the Companion Pass. Personally, since I have so many points across programs, I would figure that value as compared to my next best booking alternative. Assuming a 5,000-mile savings per trip (to keep the math easy), I’d only want to go after this new offer if I thought I would use the Companion Pass at least six times during the period of validity. Your situation certainly may vary and if you know you’ll save really big a couple of times your break-even point may be different.
Given that you won’t earn the pass until you complete the minimum spending requirement and your next statement closes, you probably won’t have the pass until sometime in March at the earliest, which means less than 12 months of possible use of the pass. I probably won’t be flying much (if at all) over these next two months, so I’d have to consider whether I would fly enough in the remaining time before the promotional pass expires on 2/28/23 to make it worth having.
Personally, I would prefer to wait until the end of 2022 to apply for Southwest cards. Under the usual point-based offers, it is frequently possible to get one business card and one consumer card with bonuses that can yield enough points combined to earn a Companion Pass. The traditional hack is to get those cards late in the calendar year and hold off until January of the following year to meet the spending requirement. If you opened a business and consumer card late in 2022 and met the spending requirement in January 2023, the welcome bonus points from those new cards would post in January or February 2023, potentially yielding you a Companion Pass that is valid for the rest of 2023 and all of 2024. I’d much rather have both a lot of points and nearly two years to use the pass than accept a less-than-one-year pass right now.
That plan of course relies on the cards to offer healthy welcome bonus points at the time when you need them. We have no crystal ball to know that the traditional approach will work again this year, but I’d be more apt to hold out for that.
That said, if you are not interested in business cards and you would make good use of the Companion Pass this year, this new offer certainly does offer the chance at very good value. Just be sure you’ve run the numbers and are confident that you’ll come out ahead.
It’s worth noting that these current offers are available via referral. Southwest referral links being generated by the Chase Refer-a-Friend site recently weren’t working, but now they are again. In a two-player household, this could make the offer a bit more valuable: If Player 1 refers Player 2, Player 1 gets 20K points when Player 2 is approved. Then, when Player 2 has the companion pass, Player 1 can use those 20K points to book flights for Player 2 and Player 2 could add Player 1 as their companion. In other words, the 20K referral bonus can sort of sweeten the deal a bit if you’re referring someone who will ultimately add you as their companion.