The Top of Mind Newsletter by New Modern Mom is your guide to a fulfilling life, packed with wisdom on motherhood, travel, career, style and self care. Get the latest resources, news and musings right to your inbox.


The Fastest Way to Earn Southwest Companion Pass




Written by:

Jason Mighdoll

Since June 2021, our family has taken 42+ flights with Southwest Airlines. Leveraging the benefits of our Southwest Companion Pass, we managed to cut over $20,000 in airfare costs during this period. We also had the Companion Pass in 2018 and 2019, which we aptly named “wedding season,” and estimated our savings at an additional $12,000 over those two years. If you don't believe me, check out our detailed list of Southwest flights below! 

Do you want to know how we accomplished it? Interested in our strategy? Discover how we achieved remarkable savings by following my tips below. I can’t wait to hear about all your family adventures!  

Family Travel Using the Southwest Companion Pass

  1. Mar 2024 Los Angeles
  2. Mar 2024 Denver
  3. Feb 2024 Cabo, Mexico
  4. Oct 2023 Denver
  5. Sep 202 Iowa
  6. May 2023 Dallas
  7. May 2023 Joshua Tree
  8. April 2023 Cabo, Mexico
  9. Mar 2023 Los Angeles
  10. Oct 2023 Honolulu Hawaii
  11. Oct 2023 Denver
  12. Sep 2023 Omaha
  13. May 2023 Dallas
  14. May 2023 Palm Springs
  15. Apr 2023 Cabo, Mexico
  16. Mar 2023 Los Angeles
  17. Feb 2023 Denver
  18. Dec 2022 Cancun
  19. Oct 2022 San Diego
  20. Oct 2022 Los Angeles
  21. Sep 2022 Dallas
  22. Jul 2022 Chicago
  23. Jan 2022 Cabo, Mexico
  24. Nov 2021 San Diego
  25. Oct 2021 Denver
  26. Oct 2021 Los Angeles
  27. Sep 2021 Kauai Hawaii
  28. Jun 2021 Seattle

5 Tips on Earning the Southwest Companion Pass Fast

Before I dive in, here are 5 things you should know first in order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass fast.

  1. Open two credit cards: Earning a Southwest Companion Pass requires advanced planning and requires opening two credit cards.
  2. Time it right: If you time this right – meaning you do this the last quarter of the year – you will be able to fly with a companion for free for two years.
  3. Apply every two years: You can apply for a new companion pass every 2-4 years if you and your partner coordinate properly.
  4. Plan your expenses: The Southwest credit card applies the Bonus Miles based on your monthly card statement closing date. To qualify, you must spend on the card the months leading up to the bonus window closing, while keeping in mind the statement close date. In other words, if you have 3 months to spend $10,000. You want to spend it during the last month of the current year, as long as your statement date will hit in the new year. Just to be sure you can leave a little unspent in January and get 22-23 months of companion pass.
  5. Don’t surpass the spending limit: To pull this off, you will be spending over the Bonus Miles limit at a specific time. This involves strategizing your credit card expenses and not surpassing the limit. Trust me, Barbara learned this the hard way and overspent the limit, passing up her opportunity to also earn a companion pass for this year!!

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass is a unique and highly sought-after offer by Southwest Airlines. It means your designated companion flies with the pass holder for free (excluding the cost of taxes and fees) on both paid and award tickets. This pass offers significant value, essentially allowing the pass holder to enjoy an unlimited “2-for-1” deal on Southwest flights. Pass holders can change their designated ‘companion' up to three times each calendar year, which is super helpful if you're a parent and want to travel with different kids each trip. Think about it: a family of three or four (if you have a lap child) can travel for the price of two – how sweet is that!

How to get the Companion Pass on Southwest?

You need to qualify for 100 one-way flights or earn 135,000 points. in one calendar year. It may seem like a lot, but you would be quite surprised at how quickly you can rack up points if you open up two credit cards.

Other ways to earn points include:

  1. Use a Rapid Rewards credit card
  2. Open two Southwest business cards
  3. Shop online with participating retailers
  4. Dine at participating restaurants
  5. Previously purchased may be eligible

4 steps to earn qualifying Rapid Rewards Points with Southwest credit cards

Step 1: Time your credit card applications

Plan it when you’ll be doing a lot of traveling. This offer can only be used every 2-4 years, so it’s important to plan for a busy travel period where both you and your kids have flexibility to travel or work remotely. Our first time we achieved Southwest's companion pass status was pre-kids (‘18-’19) and we were able to take off Fridays for travel. The second time (‘21-’24) our kids were little and our jobs were remote.

Step 2: Open Southwest credit cards

Once you have a designated travel period, it's a good strategy to choose two Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards. When you register, you’ll receive 40,000-80,000 base points as a sign-up bonus, depending on the card. These points can count towards your Companion Pass qualification. If you’re a business owner, you can earn 60,000 points with the Premier Business Credit Card or earn 80,000 points with the Performance Business Credit Card.

You can also sign up for two cards. One can be a personal card and the other can be a business card. It's important to have two different cards because each card runs different sign-on promotions at different times of the year. If you want the companion pass right away, you’ll need to combine points in the same calendar year. Aim for a 50,000 miles sign on bonus per card for signing up. 

Here is the link for my referral, be sure to use this offer for both cards. It is important to remember that every card has different tiers and a predetermined amount that you are required to spend within a specific timeframe. The personal card is usually between $3-5k within the first 3 months and the business card is usually closer to $15k in the first 6 months. Remember, you’ve been saving all your big purchases for this purpose. Here are three credit card options:

  1. Option 1: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Card
  2. Option 2: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Card
  3. Option 3: Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card
The Fastest Way to Earn Southwest Companion Pass

Step 3: Save your big purchases for end of year

To maximize the benefits of your Companion Pass, aim to earn it as early in the new year as possible. Delay completing your minimum spending so that all your points count towards your Companion Pass in the new year. This way, you have the full year to use it. 

I suggest opening your cards in November or December and to begin using them immediately for the rest of the year. This might involve adjusting payment schedules for insurance premiums, prepaying for hotels, or even finding ways to charge your rent or mortgage to your card.

Step 4: Spend required limit to earn bonus miles

Southwest awards your reward miles once your monthly credit card bill statement is closed. For example, if you start using a credit card on October 15th, you'll receive your statement on January 15th. This approach has significant benefits, especially if you hit the spending target for bonus miles in the last month of this period. By doing so, you'll receive your bonus miles in January of the following year. Opening your card in November or December also grants a brief grace period for purchases that extends into January.

Combining credit cards and miles for earning the Companion Pass

The best strategy (and fastest way) to earn the Companion Pass will be to combine flying and credit card bonuses. If you do the hack right, the combination of bonus points and what is required to spend to hit them should get you right about at the amount of points required to immediately get the Companion Pass. You can also combine the following to earn all of your qualifying points: sign up bonus, flying points, Southwest airfare purchases on the Southwest card, and other card purchases. Keep in mind that credit card purchases and flight points both take a few days to appear in your respective accounts.

Fun fact: You will also rack up enough miles to fly at least 4 round trips for free.

Other Ways to Earn Rapid Rewards Points for Companion Pass Qualification

Having both the business and personal Southwest credit cards puts you on the path to earn more points. While the cards have a small annual fee, some offers additional perks like Doordash Dash Pass and upgraded boarding, which holds its own value.

A handy tip is to check out extra offers on your Southwest account by scrolling down to the bottom of your account page.These offers can help you earn qualifying points faster. They may include spending incentives, like tripling your qualifying points after spending a certain amount, or earning additional points by booking flights to specific destinations. Additionally, your card might offer bonus points for adding an authorized user, like one of your children, who can benefit from the card's perks while staying under your supervision.

Southwest periodically runs short-term Companion Pass promotions, where booking and flying within certain windows can earn you the Companion Pass for a few months at a time. These promotions offer additional opportunities to maximize your benefits.

The Fastest Way to Earn Southwest Companion Pass
The Fastest Way to Earn Southwest Companion Pass

What Points Don’t Contribute Towards Earning a Companion Pass?

Keep in mind that not all points contribute towards your Companion Pass, some of which include:

  1. Purchased points
  2. Transferred/gifted points
  3. Points earned from program enrollment
  4. Tier bonus points
  5. Promotion bonus points (except Rapid Rewards credit cards)
  6. Flight bonus points.
  7. Partner bonus points (except Rapid Rewards credit cards)

How Do I Know if I've Earned the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?

Once you're logged in to your account, navigate to the right side of your home screen. You’ll see a meter that shows your qualification progress.

If you believe you've accrued points but don't see them reflected, take a look at the latest credits to your points, located just below the meter. It’s usually a matter of timing regarding when the points are added.

How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass Effectively?

My top tips on maximizing the benefits of the Companion Pass:

  1. Maximize long weekends for quick trips to visit friends and family members
  2. Book your flight, add your companion, then add a lap child if your child is under 2. Now you’re flying 3 for 1!
  3. Do this process every two years between you and your spouse to continuously earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Our Experience Flying on Southwest

Everyone feels differently about flying on Southwest. Some love the open seating and flexibility, while others vow they’ll never fly Southwest again. Personally, we love Southwest airlines for several reasons: the companion pass hack, the convenience of direct flights to our desired destinations, and the flexibility it affords. When booking with Miles, you can change your flight for free or cancel it and get all your points back, up until a couple hours before boarding. Since Southwest points NEVER EXPIRE, I don’t worry about squeezing in a flight before losing my hard-earned points. 

If you love having a designated seat on flights or you prefer to fly business class, Southwest is probably not the best airline for you. Mastering this hack will allow you to fly like a pro at half the cost. Have the best time on your adventures! 


This post may contain affiliate links including the Amazon Associates Program. When you make purchases through links in this post, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I only endorse products I believe in.