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5 Best Ways To Redeem the Southwest Companion Pass With Rapid Rewards Points for Max Value [2017]

southwest companion pass 1

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program offers some outstanding redemptions for travel around the U.S. and international locations.

While these redemptions are a good value on their own, you get the greatest value when redeemed with the Southwest Companion Pass. If you haven’t heard of the Companion Pass, you’re in for a surprise!

In addition to the low number of reward points needed to book Southwest flights in general, Southwest gives you an extra free ticket for no extra points when you have a Companion Pass!

Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Basics

Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be earned by signing up for the Southwest credit cards. You earn points toward the Companion Pass with every purchase made with a Southwest card so make sure you’re ready to put a lot of spending on your card!

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards Loyalty ProgramChase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Each of these cards has an annual fee and typically come with a sign-up bonus, so check out their reviews for the current offers.

You can also transfer reward points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program at a 1:1 rate.

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The travel rewards cards have an annual fee, but the cash-back cards (which can convert into Chase reward program points) do not. All cards typically have a good sign-up bonus.

Search on Southwest.com for the lowest fares using their designated lowest fares search engine. Select the option to show the price in “points” when you search for availability.

The number of Rapid Rewards points needed for a ticket on Southwest Airlines is based on the “destination, time, travel date, demand, fare class, and other factors.”

In general, Southwest seems to exchange points at:

  • Business Select fare: 120 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 36,000 points)
  • Anytime fare: 100 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 30,000 points)
  • Wanna Get Away fare: 70 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 21,000 points)

Wanna Get Away fares will get you the best value for your points in almost every case.

There’s an estimated fares destination map located here to see specific rates, but fares are still subject to change depending on the parameters mentioned above.

How the Southwest Companion Pass Works

southwest companion pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is the ultimate travel perk for you and a loved one.

Southwest may not be the largest carrier, but it is probably the most popular carrier due to its commitment to customer service and status as a great low-cost carrier.

By far the best way to redeem points is to have and use the Southwest Companion Pass. You’ll get 2 tickets for the price of 1, regardless of whether you pay for the flight or use Rapid Rewards points!

How To Earn the Companion Pass

You must earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a single calendar year to receive the Companion Pass.

These must be eligible points, such as points earned from flying, Rapid Rewards credit cards (including sign-up bonuses), the Southwest Dining Program, shopping portal, or partners.

Note that points transferred from other programs or accounts (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards) will not count toward earning a Companion Pass.

As of April 1, 2017, purchased points, flight bonus points, tier bonus points, points earned from surveys, and partner bonus points will not count toward the Companion Pass.

Once you have earned the Companion Pass, it will be valid until December 31 of the year after the year in which you earn it. So, you’ll get the most use out of the Companion Pass when you earn it in January because you can fly with it for nearly 2 years after that (e.g., January 2017 through December 2018).

The Companion Pass can be used every time you fly Southwest.

How To Maximize the Companion Pass

The companion pass is eligible for use with paid and award travel on both domestic and international Southwest Airlines itineraries. Before you can bring a friend or loved one, you must designate them as your companion.

Your companion can travel with you for only part of your itinerary if they choose, but they cannot travel without you on the Companion Pass. Additionally, you can change your designated companion up to 3 times per year.

If you lose the physical pass Southwest sends you by mail, don’t worry; you don’t actually need it to book a flight.

Following the above strategies, you can feel confident that you have maximized the value of your Southwest Companion Pass. Now, all you have to do is look for great deals on domestic and international flights to take with a friend, relative, or partner!

Before you know it, you’ll be getting tons of value out of your Companion Pass and Rapid Rewards points.

Best Ways To Use the Southwest Companion Pass for Vacations

Using points and miles is where the fun really begins! After all your hard work earning them, it’s nice to get some ideas about where to go so you can start anticipating those trips!

how to use southwest points
Wondering how to use Southwest points that you earned? Travel to Oregon and enjoy the beautiful scenery and hikes around Mt. Hood near Portland.

1. Fly Dallas to Portland Round-trip

With the Companion Pass, you can fly yourself and a travel companion on a round-trip ticket from Dallas to Portland in economy class for 15,330 Rapid Rewards points.

Those reward points cover the cost of your ticket, and your travel companion flies for nothing extra except the occasional airport taxes and fees.

Full price without the Companion Pass, this same flight for 2 people would cost about $548 total. That’s a value of 3.6 cents per point, which is an excellent redemption!

2. Fly Baltimore to the Bahamas Round-trip

redeem southwest points
Take the quick trip down to Nassau in the Bahamas to enjoy beautiful blue beaches and all-inclusive resorts!

If you’re looking for a great international vacation, check out the “Wanna Get Away” fares from Baltimore to Nassau, Bahamas. You can book a round-trip ticket in economy class for 10,080 Rapid Rewards points.

Fees tend to be a bit higher on international flights, whereas they are quite low for domestic flights. But the redemption value is still good: this flight for 2 would give you a value of about 2 cents per point.

Hot Tip: If you time your spending right, you could earn the sign-up bonus points for 2 of Chase’s Southwest credit cards early in the calendar year. Then you’ll only have to earn the difference before the Companion Pass is yours!

3. Fly Denver to Los Cabos Round-trip

redeem southwest points Los Cabos
Fly to the tropical paradise of Los Cabos, Mexico with your Rapid Rewards points!

Southwest has been expanding its international footprint, and that’s good news for Companion Pass holders.

You can fly from Denver to Los Cabo, Mexico for 22,752 Rapid Rewards points round-trip. Purchasing 2 tickets on this route would typically cost you over $900, which means you’re getting over 4 cents per point thanks to the Companion Pass!

4. Fly Atlanta to Punta Cana Round-trip

Another fun international route on Southwest is between Atlanta and Punta Cana. You can fly round-trip for 25,056 Rapid Rewards points with the Companion Pass.

Not a bad deal when you consider the fact that it would cost over $850 for 2 tickets!

Hot Tip: Looking to upgrade your trip? Use The Platinum Card® from American Express to gain access to Priority Pass lounges as well as Boingo Wi-Fi for your trip.

5. Southwest Ticket Sales

use southwest points Aruba
Use your Rapid Rewards points and Companion Pass to have some fun in Aruba!

Every so often, Southwest runs a “Low Fare” sale on certain routes. These sales include both domestic and international routes.

Recently, Southwest ran a sale that included one-way flights from Orlando to Aruba for only 8,784 Rapids Rewards points. For flights that would normally cost $384 for 2 people, this was a great deal with the Companion Pass.

You also could have booked a one-way flight from Atlanta to Cancun for 7,992 Rapid Rewards points. With the companion pass, you would get an amazing value of just over 4 cents per point!

There are also some great deals on domestic flights. We just saw one-way flights from Chicago to New Orleans for 9,757 Rapids Rewards points. That’s a redemption value of over 3 cents per point when using the Companion Pass.

These sale prices for award flights beat out most other competitors. Pair any sale ticket with the Companion Pass to maximize the value of your award!

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that these points prices may change depending on your dates of travel.

Be sure to check both the Rapid Rewards points cost and cash cost of flights when searching for tickets. This enables you to determine if it’s worth it to use the points, or if you should simply pay for the flight in cash.

Check out all routes on Southwest’s interactive route map.

Hot Tip: Get Ding! Ding is Southwest’s own alert system that will notify you when flights to your chosen destination from your selected airports go on sale. You can get it for your desktop or in the iTunes store for iOS.

If you’re going to be flying Southwest regularly on domestic or international routes, then the Companion Pass is a no-brainer!

It’s also relatively easy to get considering the many ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Be sure to also use your Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card to maximize your points.

You can pair the Companion Pass with any of the above award tickets on domestic and international flights to maximize the value you get out of your trip. Don’t hesitate, take advantage of this amazing deal!

For more information on your upcoming travel, check out the baggage rules!

Photo Credits:
Couple Traveling:  Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com
All photos courtesy of Shutterstock

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more
Apply Now

FAQ

What are RR or Rapid Rewards points?
Southwest’s points program is called Rapid Rewards. The points you earn, redeem, and transfer are Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

What credit cards does Southwest Airlines offer?
There are 3 Southwest credit cards: Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, and Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Every purchase with a Southwest card earns point toward the Companion Pass.

What are Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth?
The value of Southwest Rapid Rewards points depends on the ticket you are booking. You’ll usually always get somewhere between 1.2-2 cents per point. A “Wanna Get Away” ticket can give you a value up to 1.8 cents per point.

At 1.8 cents per point, that’s like getting a $100 ticket for the equivalent of about 5,555 Rapid Rewards points.

Can Southwest Rapid Rewards points be transferred?
Southwest Rapid Rewards points cannot be transferred to other airlines. You can redeem Southwest points, however, for hotel stays, car rentals, and more, though this is not generally a great use of points.

Are Southwest Rapid Rewards points transferrable to AirTran?
No. AirTran is now integrated into Southwest, so it is no longer considered a Southwest “partner.”

When do Southwest Rapid Rewards points post in your account?
Rapid Rewards points should post to your account within 3-7 days. Contact Southwest for support if you think they’re missing after this time period.

Are Southwest Rapid Rewards points refundable?
Yes. Southwest considers all flights paid for with Rapid Rewards points fully refundable when canceled prior to departure.

Be sure to select “request a refund of the refundable balance” when you go to cancel your flight reservation.

Can I get Southwest Rapid Rewards points for past flights?
Yes. Find the “Manage” section of your account and select “Request past points.” Enter the flight confirmation number and submit. Within 3-5 days you should see the past flight appear in your trip history the points credited appropriately.

When do Southwest Rapid Rewards points expire?
Southwest Rapid Rewards points expire after 24 months of inactivity. Your account will not expire for 24 months from the date of your most recent activity. Simply earn or redeem miles a minimum of every 24 months to keep your account from expiring.