Southwest Companion Pass: Why You Want It and How to Get It

It's like a buy-one-get-one-free deal on flights, but earning it is a challenge. A Southwest credit card can help.

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The Southwest Companion Pass is a much-coveted perk among Southwest loyalists and air travel aficionados.

That's because owning the pass is akin to getting a buy-one-get-one deal on your Southwest flight: Every time you buy a flight or redeem points for a free flight, you can choose a companion to fly with you for free — or at least for only the cost of taxes and fees (more on that later).

Enjoying a Companion Pass is easy, but earning it can be a challenge. Here's everything you need to know, including how to use to help fast-track you to such a pass.

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The Companion Pass is a sought-after highlight of the  because it's among the most valuable benefits of its kind. It allows you to pick one person to fly with you without paying any airline charges for your travel companion, aside from mandatory taxes and fees, which start at $5.60 one-way.

To qualify for a traditional Companion Pass, you'll need to do one of the following:

If you meet either of those criteria, you'll earn the Companion Pass for the rest of the year in which you qualified and the following calendar year. So if you earn the Companion Pass in, say, July 2020, it will be valid through the end of December 2021. You'll need to re-qualify every year to hold on to your status.

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Unless you travel every week on a Southwest flight, it's probably more feasible to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points to get you to that coveted pass status.

The quickest way to amass a pile of points has been by earning the sign-up bonus on at least one of the three Southwest consumer credit cards:

Although these three cards' annual fees and perks vary, they all earn the same ongoing rewards and have the same sign-up bonus:  That can get you started toward the 125,000-point threshold.

There are also two business credit cards:

Ongoing rewards and sign-up bonuses all count toward a traditional Companion Pass, as do the annual anniversary points you get with each card.

Here are the best strategies for earning Rapid Rewards points:

It's understandable to want to earn a Companion Pass as quickly as possible. Just note that these "shortcuts" won't work:

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