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The Ultimate Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass [2024]

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Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

343 Published Articles 49 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 29

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

31 Published Articles 3100 Edited Articles

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals available in the world of travel. While it’s not a fit for everyone, if you are a frequent Southwest Airlines flyer, it can save you a significant amount of money on flights.

This pass allows you to add a companion to any Southwest Airlines ticket for just the cost of the taxes and fees. Even better, if you time it right, you can get this perk for almost 2 full years.

Since Southwest has expanded its network, you can use the Companion Pass to get to popular vacation destinations like Hawaii and international locations including Mexico and the Caribbean.

If you’re intrigued by the Southwest Companion Pass, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll show you exactly what it is and more importantly, how to get one so you can save big bucks on your next flight.

What Is the Southwest Companion Pass?

Southwest airplane
The Southwest Companion Pass is a fantastic perk offered by Southwest Airlines. Image Credit: Southwest

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is the highest-level award that a member of the Rapid Rewards loyalty program can achieve. It allows you to essentially get unlimited buy-one-get-one-free tickets for up to 2 years. All you pay for are the taxes and fees for the second ticket.

While the Southwest Companion Pass is considered elite status by some, it’s not actually a status level and doesn’t include any Southwest Airlines elite status benefits. Southwest has 2 elite status levels, A-List and A-List Preferred, that are earned separately from the Companion Pass.

You can earn both a Southwest Companion Pass and A-List/A-List Preferred status but the benefits don’t cross over.

How Does the Southwest Companion Pass Work?

The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to add a companion to any Southwest ticket. All you need to do is pay the taxes and fees for the companion which are $5.60 for a one-way flight within the U.S. ($11.20 round-trip). Taxes and fees are higher on international flights, averaging ~$75 each way.

The companion can be added to any ticket as long as there is a seat available. The original ticket can be purchased with cash or points and the available seat doesn’t have to be in the same fare class as the original ticket.

For example, if you purchase a Wanna Get Away fare and want to add a companion later but there are only Business Select fares available, you’d still be able to add your companion even though the original ticket was a Wanna Get Away fare.

It’s best to add your companion at the time of booking to ensure a seat is available, but it’s not required. A companion can be added at any time, as long as Southwest has a seat for sale.

Bottom Line: The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to add a companion for just the cost of the taxes and fees ($5.60 one-way on a domestic ticket) to any and every flight you take while you have the pass. It can be used an unlimited number of times and works on tickets purchased both in points or cash.

How To Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Rapid Rewards members can earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2 ways:

  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year
  • Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year

Once you qualify for the Companion Pass, it is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn it and the entire next calendar year.

Southwest Companion Pass online account
You’ll see your Companion Pass status in your online account. Image Credit: Southwest

That means if you can earn a Companion Pass in January, you’ll have it for almost 2 full years. If you earn your Companion Pass in December, you only get to keep it for about 1 year.

As you can see, timing is critical when earning a Companion Pass. The earlier in the year you can earn it, the longer the pass is good for.

Another important thing to know about the Southwest Companion Pass is that once you earn the required 135,000 points, you’ll still have those points in your account to use for flights. You don’t have to “buy” the Companion Pass with points. It simply activates as soon as you earn 135,000 points in a calendar year.

Bottom Line: You’ll get a Southwest Companion Pass after earning 135,000 qualifying points or flying 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. It’s valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn it and the next calendar year.

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass With Credit Cards

The easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is through credit card welcome bonuses earned by meeting minimum spending requirements. That’s because you’ll earn large chunks of qualifying points at 1 time and because as a Southwest credit cardholder, you’ll get a yearly 10,000-point boost toward Companion Pass Qualification.

Southwest Companion Pass and credit cards
The easiest way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass is through Southwest co-branded credit cards. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

The 10,000-point boost only counts toward Companion Pass qualification — they are not redeemable Rapid Rewards points.

Chase offers the following Southwest Airlines co-branded credit cards:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points.
$650
$149
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most premium personal Southwest card offering from Chase. When you peel back the curtain, it is easy to see why.

Not only does the card offer multiple bonus categories to help you earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points, but it is also loaded with benefits that are sure to offer quite a bit of value to Southwest flyers.

Here is a full overview of the card to help you decide if it is a good fit for your wallet.

Pros

  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshare purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases
  • 1x point per $1 on all other purchases
  • 7,500 points each year on your cardmember anniversary
  • $75 annual Southwest travel credit
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases
  • 1,500 tier qualifying points towards elite status for every $5,000 spent
  • Travel and purchase protection

Cons

  • $149 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable points
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$99
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

Another week, another flight. Flying weekly can get tiring, but you know that every flight gets you closer to taking some great vacations with your significant other or your favorite travel buddy.

To save money on the flights, you like to use Southwest Airlines.

So why not get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to help you earn extra Rapid Rewards points?

Pros

  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
  • 2x points per $1 on Internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming services
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year on your card renewal
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In certificates per year
  • Earn Tier Qualifying Points for your spend
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

Cons

  • $99 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

U.P. Rating
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card makes it easy to earn unlimited points and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

This card makes it easy to earn unlimited points and qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$69
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

If you spend a lot of time in the air, it’s important to get a great deal on your plane tickets.

Southwest Airlines can help you get those deals.

One way to save is by using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card. This card helps you earn points for all your spending, and earning more reward points is always a good thing for a busy traveler!

Pros

  • 2x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year on your card renewal
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In certificates per year
  • 25% back on inflight purchases

Cons

  • $69 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Member FDIC

Financial Snapshot

  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Card Categories

Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Additionally, there are 2 Southwest co-branded business card options:

Southwest Credit Card Rules

You should be able to earn a Companion Pass, or come very close, by earning 2 welcome bonuses (after meeting minimum spending requirements). Since you can’t have 2 personal Southwest co-branded credit cards at once, this needs to be done by opening 1 personal Southwest card and 1 business Southwest card.

Hot Tip: Qualifying for a business credit card may be easier than you think. Your business doesn’t need to be big to qualify for a credit card. Many small businesses, such as selling items on eBay, running a blog, or driving for Uber, can allow you to apply for business credit cards.

If you’ve had a Southwest credit card in the past or currently have one, you’ll need to determine how long it’s been since you’ve earned a new cardmember bonus. You’ll only be eligible for a Southwest credit card welcome offer if you don’t currently hold a Southwest card and it’s been more than 24 months since you’ve earned a bonus.

These rules apply separately to personal and business cards. For example, if you currently hold a Southwest business credit card and earned a bonus within the past 24 months, you’re still eligible to earn a bonus on a Southwest personal card and vice versa.

Timing Your Credit Card Bonuses

To get the most out of your Southwest Companion Pass it’s important to time your qualification correctly. Since the Companion Pass is valid for the rest of the calendar year in which you earn it and the entire following calendar year, you’ll get the most use out of it if you earn it early in the calendar year.

If you’re planning to earn most of your points through credit card welcome offers, you’ll want to ensure those points post as early in the year as possible.

Of course, you can wait until January 1 to apply for your new credit cards, but if you want to get a head start, you can apply for the credit cards in November or December. Start spending on the cards right away but don’t finish the minimum spend requirement until January 1. That way, after meeting your minimum spending requirement, your welcome points will post in January and you’ll have a Companion Pass for almost 2 years.

Other Ways To Earn 135,000 Qualifying Points

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass from credit cards is just one way to do it, but there are lots of other ways to earn the required 135,000 qualifying points:

  • Revenue flights
  • Partner hotel stays
  • Partner car rentals
  • Spending on Southwest-branded credit cards (based on when the points post to your account)
  • Southwest credit card referral bonuses
  • Rapid Rewards Dining (based on dining date)
  • Rapid Rewards shopping portal (based on purchase date)

Southwest has additional partners and the base points you earn from these partners do count toward Companion Pass qualification:

  • 1-800-Flowers.com (based on purchase date)
  • Energy Plus (based on posting date)
  • Harry & David (based on purchase date)
  • Laithwaite’s Wine (based on purchase date)
  • Make It Count – Marathon (based on posting date)
  • NRG Home (based on posting date)
  • Rocketmiles (based on the date of stay)
  • Reliant Energy (based on posting date)
  • Xoom (based on posting date)

You’ll notice some points qualify in the year they are posted and some points qualify based on the purchase date. This can be very important if you’re trying to qualify at the end of a calendar year.

For example, if you’re 5,000 points short in December so you do some extra spending on your credit card, those points won’t count unless they post in December. If they post in January they would count toward the next year’s qualification.

Hot Tip: The Southwest Companion Pass will be awarded as soon as you earn the required 135,000 Rapid Rewards points. You can then use those points to purchase tickets — you don’t have to cash them out to get the Companion Pass!

What Points Don’t Count Toward Southwest Companion Pass Qualification?

Here’s a look at the points that do not qualify for Southwest Companion Pass status:

  • Flight bonus points
  • Gifted points
  • Partner bonus points
  • Partner program transfers
  • Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Promotion bonus points (except for credit card welcome and referral bonuses)
  • Purchased points
  • Tier bonus points
  • Transferred points

How To Check Your Southwest Companion Pass Qualifying Points Balance

If you aren’t sure how many Companion Pass qualifying points you currently have, you can check your balance in your online account. First, click on View Details underneath your points total. Then choose the year you want to see and filter the list by Companion Pass Qualifying Points.

Southwest Companion Pass Qualifying Points
You can easily check how many Companion Pass Qualifying Points you have in your online account. Image Credit: Southwest

Designating and Changing Your Companion

Once you’ve earned your Companion Pass, the first thing you need to do is to choose your official companion.

Southwest allows you to select any 1 person to be your companion at any given time, and you can change that person up to 3 times a year, for a maximum of 4 companions over the course of the year.

You’ll be able to designate your initial companion online, but you’ll need to call Southwest at 800-435-9792 to change your companion. The first companion needs to be removed from any future reservations before a second companion can be designated.

According to the Southwest website, changing your companion can take up to 21 business days to process, however, in practice, it happens almost instantly most of the time.

How To Use The Southwest Companion Pass

Kealia Beach
You can use the Southwest Companion Pass to fly to any destination serviced by Southwest, including Hawaii. Image Credit: Go Hawaii

Using your Southwest Companion Pass is incredibly easy.

First, you’ll need to book your ticket as you usually would. It can be purchased with points or cash and can be for any fare category (Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, or Business Select).

Once your ticket is booked, you can add your companion either through Southwest.com or via phone.

On the website, you will see a place to click that says Add Companion. This is located just below your flight information, next to the links to cancel or change your flight. Simply click the button and enter the required information to add your companion. You’ll also need to pay the taxes at this point, which will be $5.60 for a one-way domestic trip.

To add a companion over the phone, just call reservations and let the representative know you will be using your Companion Pass to add another passenger to your flight.

Your companion can be added up until the time of the flight, as long as there are still seats for sale. This is true even if the price has gone up since you bought your ticket.

After you add a companion, you’ll see the companion confirmation number (which will be different from the original ticket) with your flight information.

Southwest Companion Pass confirmation number
The companion will have a different confirmation number than the original ticket. Image Credit: Southwest

Since your companion will have a different confirmation number, you’ll both have to check in for your flight separately. This can result in different boarding positions, which can potentially make sitting together more difficult.

If you want to ensure you’re sitting next to your companion on the plane, you may want to consider purchasing EarlyBird Check-In or using an Upgraded Boarding pass from the Southwest Priority card and Southwest Performance Business card.

There are some additional rules for Companion Pass tickets that you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Your companion must be ticketed and travel on the same flight as you
  • If you change your flight, you must also change your companion’s flight
  • If you cancel your flight, your companion’s flight will also be canceled
  • The companion ticket is not considered to be a paid ticket, and therefore cannot have another companion added
  • The companion ticket doesn’t earn points
  • There are no blackout dates for Companion Pass tickets

How To Change a Companion Pass Flight

If you need to make a change to a flight that includes a companion, you can do it in 1 of 2 ways. You can call Southwest to make the change, or you can make the change online. To change a ticket that includes a companion online, you’ll first need to cancel the companion ticket. Then you can make a change to the original ticket and add the companion back once the change is made.

Final Thoughts

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel. It allows you to add a companion for just the cost of the taxes and fees on any Southwest flight for up to 2 years.

To earn a Companion Pass you need to earn 135,000 qualifying points in a year or fly 100 one-way flights. Thankfully, credit card welcome offers are considered qualifying points, so earning a Companion Pass may be easier than you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is a pass that allows a Rapid Rewards member to add a companion to any flight that they book with Southwest, as long as there is another seat available for purchase. The member only needs to pay the taxes and fees for the companion ticket.

How do you earn a Southwest Companion Pass?

A Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is earned by either completing 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 135,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points in a single calendar year.

How long is the Southwest Companion Pass good for?

The Southwest Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which it was earned and the entire following calendar year.

Do I earn points on flights taken with the Southwest Companion Pass?

When a Companion Pass is used, only 1 of the 2 passengers will earn points for the flight (if it was a paid flight; flights purchased with points don’t earn points). The member who holds the Companion Pass and buys the original ticket will earn points. The companion won’t earn points.

What is the value of the Southwest Companion Pass?

There is no set value for the Southwest Companion Pass. The pass becomes more valuable the more you use it.

If you were to use the pass only once for a flight that cost $250, then the value of your pass would be $250 minus the taxes and fees ($5.60 for a domestic one-way flight).

However, if you were to use the pass 100 times for flights that average $250, then the value of your pass would be ~$25,000.

The Southwest Companion Pass is not limited to a specific number of flights, so it is really as valuable as you want to make it.

Can I change my flight on a Companion Pass booking?

Yes, you can change your flight on a Companion Pass booking, but your companion’s flight must also be changed to the same new flight as you.

How many times can you use a Companion Pass on Southwest?

The number of times you can use a Southwest Companion Pass is virtually unlimited. As long as your pass is valid, you can use it as many times as you like.

Can you fly to Hawaii with the Southwest Companion Pass?

Yes, you can use the Southwest Companion Pass to fly to Hawaii. It’s valid for any Southwest flight that has an available seat.

Katie Seemann's image

About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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