How to maximize the value of your Southwest Companion Pass.

I travel a lot + my family frequently travels with me + I’ve got a Southwest Companion Pass.

In theory, this should add up to huge savings for us. When you’ve got a Companion Pass, your designated companion can accompany you for free on any flight, even when you are flying on points.

This is an incredible deal, and my original plan was to really rock it – as a family of four, if Josh and I both got a Companion Pass and each named one of our kids as our companion, we could potentially save thousands of dollars each year.

In practice, however, it hasn’t been that lucrative.

I’ve had the pass for a year now, and I’ve used it exactly twice: once on a trip to Seattle and once to San Diego. I saved a total of approximately $600. Not bad, but I’m clearly not maximizing here.

Currently, my daughter is my companion. As all of our family travel this year is planned on other airlines, my Companion Pass benefit is currently worth zero dollars. Luckily, there is an easy way to change that, because your designated Companion can be changed up to three times during the validity period.

For me, my friend Hottie was the clear choice. We travel together frequently – especially since she got into collecting points and miles. 😉 It was easy to make the switch. I simply called Southwest at 1-800-435-9792 and gave the Customer Representative Hottie’s information. (Tip: make sure you have your companion’s Rapid Rewards number handy because you will need it to complete the process).

Once your companion is designated, you can book travel immediately over the phone, or you can wait for your companion to show up in your online account if you would prefer to book online (it only took 20 minutes for Hottie to appear in my account). You’ll receive your new Companion Pass card in the mail within ten business days.

Even though I haven’t rocked this, I still think it’s the best deal in town. Normally, you would have to fly 100 qualifying 1-way flights to earn the pass.  However, with the current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points for the Chase Southwest Visa, you can get both the personal and business versions of the card and earn 100,000 points.  You need to meet the minimum spend requirement on each card ($2,000/card within the first 3 months = $4,000).  Then you can either spend another $6,000, fly Southwest flights, or transfer points from a qualifying program into your Southwest account to make up the difference.

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Another one of the incredible things about this deal is that the benefit is good for the remainder of the current calendar year in addition to all of the next calendar year.  What this means is that if you qualify for the pass in January of 2014, it will be good for all of 2014 AND all of 2015!

The 50,000 sign-up bonus points are currently worth over $835 in “Wanna Get Away” fares. (After March 31st, they will be worth $710 because the points value is changing from 60 points per dollar to 70 points per dollar, but this is still a ton of bang for your buck.) In other words, if you earn the Companion Pass right now, you can leverage the $1,670 worth of bonus points/free travel to $3,340 in free travel if you use the points to fly with your companion!

This is a huge value for two sign-up bonuses…and it’s especially valuable if you strategically change your companion to align with your travel plans.

Do you have a Companion Pass strategy? How much have you saved by using it?

Comments

  1. I signed up for the personal card back in October but was denied for the business one. I didn’t put any spend on the personal card until January, and plan to also re-apply for the business one so I can get the companion pass early this year and have it be good through the end of 2015.

    We’re going to use it for our family of 8 to travel to Lake Tahoe this summer and after that, I think we’re in a similar boat as you without having much of a concrete plan for it. Obviously for family travel, it’s not as good when you’re buying 8 tickets as when you’re only buying 2 but it is still a great deal

  2. I wish I had a companion… let alone a companion pass. 🙁

    (Great post! Learned something new!)

  3. I got my pass in November. So far we’re scheduled to Florida in April (on our way to the Bahamas). But like you I want the numbers to be totally worn out by the end of this year.

    Poor husband is trying to schedule for a knee replacement. I’m anxious to get the surgery date nailed down so I can plan maximum use of the pass both before and after.

    Not a bad wife……..just an avid traveler. 🙂

  4. I miss my companion pass. It just expired and my husband is in the process of getting one. We used my pass to fly to Chicago, Austin, Las Vegas and then I switched my pass and took a girlfriend to Chicago again. When I booked an award ticket to South American on American and could only get back to DFW, Southwest to the rescue until some availability opened up.

    I’d estimate we saved $2,500 based on the points I used for those flights. I did screw up and earned my pass so it was only good for about a year. We wouldn’t have been jetting off to Chicago for the weekend for my birthday without it. I still have 60,000 points left and I don’t spend on the card so definitely a great value.

  5. I feel ya, Diego. I’m lucky to get to be Pixie’s companion for a weekend away, and she is cute n’ all… But an every day companion would be nice, too. Maybe all these miles will put us on the road to love. I’ll keep the faith if you will!

  6. I had companion pass in 12 and 13 and we used it quite a bit. I like that it is good on any ticket even when I won a sweepstakes and got vouchers for 2 RT flights they let me take the wife for free. The bad part is we live in Fort Worth and even though Dallas is their headquarters and hub, it is under the Wright amendment and every flight feels like your riding the bus. Multiple stops to go anywhere. New Orleans was the only true non stop we flew in 2 years. We moved from ATL and thought the AirTran merger was a good thing…wrong. The first thing they did after the merger was discontinue all AirTran flights to DFW/DAL and cut SW flights to ATL to next to none. No international flights on the companion pass 3 years after the sale went through. We can use AirTran points to fly to Mexico and the islands from ATL but have to fly in and out a day before/after to connect with Southwest….total failure with combining routes and FF programs. This year my wife gets the companion pass and we will wait and see if it gets better after they repeal the Wright amendment in Oct. and maybe we can use the CP to get to cancun or Jamaica sometime in 2015…about 5 years after the merger.

  7. Points Pixie says:

    Points with a Crew – Smart plan for getting the pass. Maybe more travel opportunities will crop up so you can get more of a chance to use it. If not, at least you got all those points 😉

    Diego – Aw. You are so awesome! Your comments always brighten my day. I bet 2014 is going to be your Year of the Companion.

    Anne – Ooh, I hope everything goes smoothly with your husband’s surgery…both for his sake, and also so you can rev up your travel plans again. Bahamas = yay!

    Sara – Wow, sounds like some really good redemptions!

    Hottie – 🙂

    wise2u – Fingers crossed for you! Glad you got to use the pass a lot when you had it – sounds like you got some good value out of it.

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