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One of the best deals in modern award travel is the Companion Pass offered by Southwest Airlines. With it, you can fly two passengers for the price of one on both paid and award flights, offering massive long-term value.

Though the Companion Pass has traditionally been difficult to earn (more on that below), Chase has increased the welcome bonus offers on the personal versions of their Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards to enable earning it with just a single sign-up – and the deal ends March 14, 2022.

Earning the Companion Pass

In the past, the process for earning a Southwest Companion Pass has been the following:

  • Fly 100 segments on Southwest Airlines in a calendar year (regardless of points earning), OR
  • Earn 125,000 qualifying Rapids Rewards points in a calendar year

Completing either of these requirements would earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of the calendar year plus the entire next calendar year. If earned early in the year, this could equate to nearly two full years of eligibility.

The first option of flying 100 segments is impractical for most, so those interested in obtaining the coveted pass have focused on earning the necessary points instead. Earning points can be done in a number of ways:

  • Credit card welcome bonuses
  • Credit card spend
  • Earnings through the Rapid Rewards shopping or dining portals
  • Flying
  • Hotel stays and car rentals that earn Rapid Rewards points

The easiest and fastest way to rack up 125,000 Rapid Rewards points is via credit card welcome bonuses. Chase offers three Southwest Rapid Rewards personal credit cards and two business cards:

As with most Chase credit cards, there are restrictions as to how often you can apply for these cards and how many you can hold at a time. For example, all the abovementioned cards are subject to the “5/24” rule, meaning if you have opened five or more credit cards with any bank in the last two years, Chase will not approve you until you’re below that threshold. Also, Chase will not allow you to hold more than one of the personal credit cards at a time, though you can have both business cards open simultaneously. Finally, you are only able to open one personal credit card per 24 months.

The welcome bonuses on these cards have fluttered over the years, but it has usually been possible to earn 125,000 points by opening two accounts (one personal and one business) and meeting the spend requirements. As stated above, once you earn the required number of points you receive the Companion Pass for the remainder of that calendar year plus the following year, so in order to maximize the eligibility time the best strategy is as follows:

  • In December or January, open one personal and one business credit card, which have combined welcome bonuses that will meet or exceed 125,000 points when minimum spending requirements are met.
  • Complete spending requirements as early as possible in January to trigger the deposit of welcome bonus points
  • Earn the Companion Pass for the remainder of that year plus the entire following year

It’s important to emphasize that the welcome bonus points are deposited into your Rapid Rewards account in bulk once the spend requirement is met (usually 1-2 days after the statement closes), so although you can begin your spending in December, you should be careful not to meet the full spending requirement until January or else your Companion Pass will be earned in December and you will only have it for 13 months (December plus the next calendar year) instead of 24 months.

Of course, it’s not required that you meet the spend in January – but that’s how you stretch the pass to its maximum value.

I flew to San Jose, Costa Rica on Southwest Airlines in late 2021 – one of their limited number of international destinations – and hung out in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

New Temporary Welcome Bonuses

Earlier this year, Chase announced that it had updated the welcome bonus on their three personal credit cards. Instead of the normal points-only structure, they are offering 30,000 Rapid Rewards points plus a Companion Pass that is valid until February 28, 2023 after meeting the minimum spend requirements. This offer ends on March 14, 2022 so time is limited to take advantage. It is available on all three personal versions of the Rapid Rewards credit card, which are:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card


  • Get 3,000 points each year on the anniversary of account opening
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest flight purchases, transit (including rideshare like Uber), internet/cable/phone, and select streaming
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins each year
  • $69 Annual Fee, not waived the first year

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card


  • Get 6,000 points each year on the anniversary of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest flight purchases
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on transit (including rideshare like Uber), internet/cable/phone, and select streaming
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins per year
  • $99 Annual Fee, not waived the first year

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card


  • Get 7,500 points each year on the anniversary of account opening
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on Southwest flight purchases
  • Earn 2 points per dollar spent on transit (including rideshare like Uber), internet/cable/phone, and select streaming
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins per year
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-Ins each year
  • $75 annual travel credit for use on Southwest
  • Four A1-15 boardings each year
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, Wi-Fi, messaging, and movies
  • $149 Annual Fee, not waived the first year

Is the Companion Pass Worth It?

As a quick reminder as to why you might consider flying on Southwest Airlines in the first place, here are a few of the benefits and drawbacks of the airline as a whole:


  • 2 free checked bags per person
  • Free cancellation any time up until 10 minutes prior to departure
  • Offers a 2-for-1 “Companion Pass” which works on both paid flights and those booked with Rapid Rewards points


  • Limited international destinations (though we flew to Costa Rica on Southwest and enjoyed it!)
  • There is no award chart for award tickets – the number of points required is a direct factor of the cash price (about 1.4 cents per point), so it’s not possible to earn outsized value
  • No assigned seats or First/Business Class (other than Business Select, but that only offers additional perks and not a separate seating class)

In short, Southwest Airlines is a great option for people who live near one of their hubs and enjoy flying with them. For those in that situation, the Companion Pass can be extremely valuable and useful and should be strongly considered. Whether you should get the traditional version of the Companion Pass (valid for up to nearly two years), or the quick version offered with the current welcome bonuses (valid for one year), is a personal choice that should be based on how often you expect to use it, what your eligibility is in terms of 5/24 status, etc. Personally, if I lived near an airport with frequent access to Southwest flights I would opt for the traditional Companion Pass to stretch its value.

What’s more, if you’re doing two-player mode then you and your partner could switch off earning the pass every two years and adding each other as your free companion for infinite BOGO flights (in theory).

Final Thoughts

The once-elusive yet lucrative Southwest Companion Pass is being dangled in front of us by Chase, who has made it much easier to earn than previously. With just a single welcome bonus from one of their personal credit cards, you can receive 30,000 Rapid Rewards points and a Companion Pass that is valid until February 28, 2023 instead of the traditional route of needing to earn 125,000 points in a calendar year or flying 100 segments. Though the new way is easier and faster, the pass is also valid for only one year instead of (up to) two years like the old one.

If you live near a Southwest hub and fly them often, the Companion Pass is about the best deal out there. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make much sense to get the shorter-validity version unless you can’t, for whatever reason, open two credit cards and get it the old way which is valid for longer. If that’s your situation, be sure to sign up before the deal goes away on March 14, 2022.

Brandon Chase is a financially independent writer, endurance athlete, and travel hacking enthusiast originally from Maine. He is a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and spent nearly a decade overseas serving at embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan. Since getting hooked on “the hobby” in 2013, he and his wife have accumulated and redeemed millions of points and miles for luxury travel, including a $35,000 trip around the world for 97% off retail which he wrote about on his blog Fit For Miles. In addition to travel, he loves to be outdoors and has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and completed ultramarathons at the 50k, 50-mile, and 100-mile distances. Brandon is thrilled to share his knowledge of credit cards, award travel, and optimization with the Go Curry Cracker readers and hopes to help people travel more and better than they ever thought possible.

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