Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Southwest Companion Pass

Family travel can get very expensive, very quickly.  Paying $250 for airfare for you is not so bad. Multiply that by four, and you’ve already spent $1000 before you land. Even visiting the grandparents where you may have a place to stay may not be economically feasible.

But there are options. One of the best options is the Southwest Companion Pass. It may be the best benefit available in the airline industry for families or couples. The way it works is that once you qualify for the Companion Pass, you can bring along a companion of your choosing to anywhere Southwest flies for free. You do have to pay for some fees, but for domestic flights, it’s usually $7.50 or $10/ per. The companion can fly along with you even when you use Southwest points to book your flight.  

There are a couple of ways to qualify for Companion Pass, but the easiest is with credit card signups. To qualify, one needs to collect 110K Southwest points within a calendar year. The Chase Southwest card typically has a 50K points sign up bonus. There’s also a business version of the same card that offers a 50K bonus too. You receive the bonus after spending $3K on the card. If you did both cards and spent $3K on each, then your Southwest balance would be 106K. You can collect the other 4K points by continuing to spend more on your CC, or actually flying on paid flights with Southwest. Finally, there are some hotel programs that allow transfers to Southwest that also count towards your status. 

Once you collect 110K miles within a calendar year, you will have the Companion Pass status for the rest of that calendar year, and all of the following year. For example, if you collect your 110K points by March 31, 2015, then you will have the status for the rest of 2015, and all of 2016. This can kick start your travel domestically, and the Caribbean.

There are several Caribbean destinations where Southwest flies

The timing of this post is not by accident. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in for 2015, then now is the time to start planning. 

  • Check your credit score
  • Start looking for the 50K Southwest offers
  • As the year end nears, apply for the 50K cards
  • Wait until the new year to start using the cards
  • Put everything you can on your new CC’s
  • Research Southwest cities and start planning your travel

One last note, both you and your spouse can qualify for the Companion Pass status. By doing so, you will have the ability to double your travel value. This gets really important for those with kids. I have three kids. My wife and I both have the Companion Pass. We only have to book three Southwest flights for all five of us to fly. And we fly with the miles that we accrued to achieve the status, further lowering our out of pocket expenses.

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