Travel Tuesday: Southwest Cards Are Including Companion Pass in Their Sign-Up Bonuses (For a Limited Time)

Sometimes the universe loves me. As I was brainstorming on what to write about this week, some very interesting news came across my desk: Southwest is now allowing customers to earn a Companion Pass as part of the sign-up bonus on their co-branded credit card line-up. In other words, for a limited time, you can score a year of essentially free flights for your friend or loved one just by spending $5,000 on a new card.

First things first, I am not an expert on Southwest, having only flown them a handful of times. This is partially because they don’t service SGF but also because I’ve never been a fan of their boarding system and lack of assigned seating. That said, I definitely respect a lot about what the company does, including allowing customers to rebook if a lower fare becomes available and pocket the difference in the form of a credit.

And then there’s their famed Companion Pass. With a Companion Pass, customers can designate a travel partner who gets to fly with you for free. Well, not 100% free as you’ll need to pay taxes and fees, which start at $5.60 per way — but still. Under normal conditions, you’d need to fly 100 one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points during a calendar year in order to receive your Companion Pass. However, with the current credit card promotion, you can effectively earn a one-year Companion Pass for as little as $69.

Much to my surprise, the Companion Pass sign-up bonus offer is not limited to Southwest’s top-tier Rapid Rewards Priority card but, instead, is also available on the Rapid Rewards Plus and Rapid Rewards Premier cards. When you open one of these cards and spend $5,000 on the card within 90 days of account opening, you’ll not only unlock a Southwest Companion Pass but also earn 30,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points. Of note, the Priority Pass you receive through this promotion will be valid until February 28th, 2022.

Of course, while the sign-up bonus for this trio of Southwest Rapid Rewards card may be identical for now, each of these options has its own set of perks. Starting with the Plus card, it comes at a cost of $69 a year but allows you to earn two points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases as well as Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, plus one point per dollar spent on everything else. Plus card members also earn a 3,000 point bonus each year on their cardholder anniversary. Next, the Premier card includes the same benefits as the Plus but also allows cardholders to earn tier qualifying points towards A-List status. The $99 annual fee card also ups the annual cardholder anniversary bonus points to 6,000. Finally, the $149 per year Priority card adds such perks as a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, up to four upgraded boardings per year (when available), 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi, 7,500 annual cardholder anniversary bonus points, and more.

According to Chase’s and Southwest’s marketing materials, this promotion is set to expire on March 10th, 2021 — meaning there isn’t much time to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, the timing of this offer is certainly no mistake as the travel industry continues to reel from the pandemic. On that note, while this opportunity to earn a Southwest Companion Pass is certainly generous, it’s worth considering how much use you’ll actually be able to get from it given the circumstances.

Personally, while this current Southwest credit card Companion Pass offer isn’t for me, I’m fairly fascinated by it. In fact, if Southwest were even an option at my local airport, I might at least consider this seemingly rare opportunity (although I don’t foresee much air travel in my near future). As for those who may be ready to take to the skies in the coming months as vaccines roll out — and want to take their loved one along with them — now may be the time to add a new Southwest credit card to your wallet.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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Promotions like these are good strategies for the travel industry to attract people to travel again.

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