Earning The Southwest Companion Pass: Timing & FAQs

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The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card are offering bonuses of up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points upon completing minimum spend, and we now know that those increased offers will end on October 4, 2017.

Reader Fotobrad posted a question about how to time earning those 110k points in Ask Lucky:

I’ve read about applying for both SW cards AFTER Oct. 1st, but BEFORE the offers for the 60K end on Oct 4th, and also about applying now, and delaying my account closing day for a couple of weeks. I’m confused. I would like to earn the pass for ’18 AND ’19. When should I apply???

There’s already some great advice over in the forum, but I figured I’d address the question here as well, as this can be a bit tricky.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?

Basically, if you rack up 110,000 points in a year you’ll earn Companion Pass with Southwest, which allows someone else to travel with you for the entire year.

You still have to pay the taxes on their ticket, but the companion pass is valid on both award and revenue tickets.

That means if you’ve accumulated 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, you have over $1,650 worth of “Wanna Get Away” fares at your disposal. Factoring in the Companion Pass, you’re looking at over $3,300 worth of airfare.

You can change your designated companion three times in a year, so this is a no-brainer for travel within North America. Keep in mind that you’re not trading 110,000 points for the Companion Pass. You earn the 110k points (which you then get to spend on award flights) and you get to bring someone along for just the taxes and fees. Even on award tickets.

I had the Companion Pass a few years ago, at a time when we were doing more domestic travel than we do currently, and it saved us a tremendous amount of money. It’s a ridiculous deal.

When you earn the points matters

As mentioned above, you need to earn 110,000 points for the Southwest Companion Pass. And you need to earn all of those points in a single calendar year. Not a rolling 12-month period, just January 1st – December 31st.

Southwest, like all airlines, awards Rapid Rewards points after your flight. So if you buy tickets today for travel next February, the points will be credited to your account in February, and would count towards your 2018 Companion Pass qualification.

Similarly, if you’re earning points through hotel or rental car partners, or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you make your reservation, or your purchase. What matters is when the points post to your Rapid Rewards account.

Once you earn those 110,000 points, you’ll automatically receive your Companion Pass.

Your billing date matters too

If you’re using the Southwest credit cards, the points will post to your account shortly after your statement closing date. In theory it can be a few weeks, but in my experience it happens pretty quickly. The timing of your billing cycle can also vary quite a bit — I’ve received cards where the first statement closed a week after receiving the card, where other cards the first statement period was five weeks.

For the Companion Pass, you want to make sure that all the points you’re earning from your credit card spend post in the right period. If you were to pick up the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card today, for example, you’d have three months to meet the minimum spend to earn the bonus points.

That would put you at roughly December 19th as the date for needing to complete the spend (there are reports of “three months” being longer than 90 days, but we’re going to be conservative here and follow the instructions as written). Once you’re approved for the card, you can call Chase and they’ll tell you the exact deadline for your situation.

If, for example, your statement closes on December 15th, only points that you’d earned prior to the 15th would be posted to your Southwest account in December. Points earned the 15th through the 19th would not post until your January closing date, and would then count towards the 2018 Companion Pass.

Alternatively, if your statement closes on the 1st of the month, the timing is a bit trickier. You’d still want to meet that minimum spend by roughly December 19th to be on the safe side, but if you want the points to post in 2017, you’d want to complete all of your spend before November 30th. If you instead want the points to post in 2018, you would want to wait to do any spend until December 2nd. Personally, because again I’m cautious with these things, I would make sure to not finish my minimum spend until January, just to be on the safe side.

Chase will also let you move your statement closing date. If your statement closes on the 30th of a month, you should be able to ask to move it by a week or so. In practice most people seem to have better luck in moving it to be later than earlier, with some reporting getting an extra long billing cycle instead of a shorter one, so factor that in as well.

The big caveat: there are reports of points posting as soon as you’ve met the spend. I haven’t experienced this — my points have always posted with the statement closing date. But again, I would make sure I was hitting that minimum spend target in the right calendar year, just in case.

You want to keep all of that in mind when deciding if you want to qualify in 2017 or 2018.

Who should earn the Companion Pass in 2017?

tl;dr — not many of us.

The exception, because there’s always an exception, is if for whatever reason you have already earned a bundle of Southwest points in 2017, and don’t think you’ll be able to earn the full 110k points in 2018.

My cousin Heather is in this boat, and through a variety of somewhat unusual travel circumstances has already earned ~64,000 Rapid Rewards points this year. If she were to earn an additional ~46,000 points this year, she’d have a Companion Pass valid through the end of 2018.

Given her circumstances, it probably makes sense to go ahead and qualify this year. She’s had the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, and is under 5/24, so will be applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and trying to meet the minimum spend to earn the bonus points as soon as possible. She’ll want those points to post in 2017, so will be paying special attention to her statement dates.

Who should earn the Companion Pass in 2018?

Really everyone else.

That’s because the Southwest Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the year you earn it, and the entire following year. So Heather will earn a Companion Pass valid through the end of 2018, but someone earning the Companion Pass in January will have all of 2018 and 2019 to leverage free companion travel.

The extra time gives you even more opportunities for companion travel, and is a much better value. Again, pay attention to the dates, because you’ll want the bulk of your spend (if not all of it) to hit on a statement that closes in 2018.

So when should I apply?

At this point, you’re fine applying any time before October 4th. If you want to wait until the first few days of October to apply to ensure a later closing date, that’s fine. Chase bases bonus offers on your application date, so you could technically wait all the way until the 4th, but that strategy tends to make me nervous.

The important thing is to time your spend (and thus when the points post to your account). If you want the points to post in 2017, you’ll want to have your spend completed before the closing date of your last 2017 statement. If you want the points to post in 2018, you’ll want to wait to meet your minimum spend until all your 2017 statements have closed, so that all your points post in 2018.

Technically you just need the last few dollars to complete the minimum spend to be timed properly, but personally I would do 100% of my spending on the card in the appropriate statement period, just in case. That’s easier for me to keep track of, and you’ll probably want the ~2k points from your spend to count towards the Companion Pass as well.

Increased Southwest Card sign-up bonus details

The basic details of these increased offers are as follows:

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months
  • $99 annual fee
  • Receive 6,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary every year

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months
  • $69 annual fee
  • Receive 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary every year

Who is eligible for these increased Southwest offers?

You can potentially pick up both of these cards (and you’d earn Companion Pass after completing minimum spend, which is awesome), though the bonuses aren’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.

Furthermore, do note that these cards are subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you generally wouldn’t be eligible for these cards if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months.

If you’re looking for Chase cards that aren’t subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, consider products like IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card or British Airways Visa Signature® Card. These cards are still extremely rewarding, and you can be approved even if you’ve opened more than five new card accounts in the past 24 months. The values are just a bit different.

Bottom line

If you have plans for travel in North America, the Southwest Companion Pass is an incredibly good deal. The increased bonuses on the Southwest Credit Cards make earning those 110k points downright easy, so if you consistently travel in North American with another person, there is just tremendous value here.

Any other questions or experiences with the Southwest Companion Pass?

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Comments

  1. I have a feeling not many of your hardcore readers will be under 5/24 so while this information is dandy, its usefulness is limited. Thank you regardless.

  2. Should you go for two cards on the same day or spread them out some? What is Chase’s policy on two cards in one day?

  3. @ Matthew — Chase doesn’t seem to have a specific policy, so it’s really going to depend on your personal circumstances. I’m seeing a really broad variety of data points on these cards, so while I personally tend to wait a few months, that doesn’t seem to be necessary in all cases.

  4. @ Olivia — We haven’t been told “officially” either way, but have just been reporting what others have been told. Honestly, October 1st would make a lot more sense to me than October 4th — changing an offer before the first fiscal day of a new quarter rather than three days in seems more logical, but I have nothing official to base that on.

  5. So since I already got one Southwest Chase card this year (60k bonus), I need to get another one ASAP? Since I don’t have any way of generating 110,000 points in early 2018. Is that correct? Thanks.

  6. @ Kenneth — If that’s the easiest way for you to earn points, then I probably would. Otherwise you still have the options of transferring points from hotels, earning through shopping portals, etc. Just depends on if you think it’s going to be easier (and worthwhile) to earn another 50k this year, or wait so that you’re getting 110k early next year somehow.

  7. Can I apply for both cards today and be OK to get my 2017/18 pass if I follow the rules and spend make the spending requirements?

  8. I meant:
    Can I apply for both cards today and be OK to get my 2018/19 pass if I follow the rules and spend make the spending requirements?

  9. Tiffany,

    Thanks for so much for all your help. It’s amazing. You are very, very kind.

    Southwest Points: I am trying to get a companion pass for 2018/2019…..

    I already applied (on Sept 15th) for both a personal as well as a business Chase card. Each card gives you 60,000 points towards a companion pass. Assuming that I’m approved for both (I’m not subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule), it sounds like I will want to immediately push my statement closing date as far back as Chase will let me.

    I understand that I need the points to post in 2018 in order to get a companion pass in both 2018 AND 2019.

    Date of Application: September 15, 2017
    Assume my billing cycle is:
    Period 1 – September 20th to October 19th – payment due November 10th
    Period 2 – October 20th to November 19th – payment due December 10th
    Period 3 – November 20th to December 19th – payment due January 10th
    THREE MONTHS from the application date: December 15th

    I’m assuming that the points won’t post until I’ve BOTH spent the dollar minimum in the right time frame AND paid at least the minimum balance due on the credit card for that billing cycle.

    Since I’m looking to get all 120,000 points (60,000 points from each Chase card) in 2018, I would need to spend the requisite amount of money ($2,000 and $3,000) no later than PERIOD 3 (see above) and do so BEFORE December 15th (3 months from my application date). I would then need to pay at least the minimum balance due by the statement due date, which in my hypothetical would be January 10th.

    Does that sound right?
    1. Would this result in my points posting in January 2018?
    2. If not, what options do I have at this point?
    3. Any other thoughts?

    Thanks again!

  10. 1. Applied for both the premier and Plus on the same day, 12 Sep. Under 5/24. Instant approval on premier, pending on the plus, approved 2 days later. I was worried about meeting the spend and it posting after my Dec statement closed. Read a lot on Reddit and their suggestion is: SM Chase after receiving and verifying you have the card. Ask them to verify your spend amount, the points you will get and most importantly, the date you must complete the spend by. There were many DPs that you get more than 90 days. Note they do use the term “3 months” not 90 days. So I sent the SM and also mentioned that I “understood that there is a 115 day time frame to meet the spend and could I be offered that time frame for these cards”. I received an SM back for each card saying I would get 60k for $2000 spend and my last date to meet the spend was 5 Jan/7 Jan respectively. Boom! In writing 115 days. Just get it in writing and don’t assume. Just nicely ASK about the 115 day time frame. Don’t ruin it for everyone else by demanding it.
    2. The spend is $2000 for both personal cards.
    3. You can use the companion pass for any flight including international flights.
    4. If you feel you need to change dates, you can change your payment date, probably not statement date. But changing the payment date will automatically change your statement date. Chase usually sets their dates as: payment date plus 3 days= statement date.

  11. I applied today 9/22 for the SW business card and was instantly approved, I called Chase to asked my billing statement.They told me my statements were on the 10th and my three statements would be on 10/10, 11/10, and 12/10 and that I need to spend $3000 on or after (and not before) 12/11, but before 12/22 But since I need it to post by 12/22 (90 days to spend 3K). So to be safe, I should have made my purchases by 12/18 for the 3K, so it has time to post. Which it would post with 1/10/2018 statement.

    I hope this helps. Or if something doesn’t sound right please do tell me. I plan on applying for a personal SW soon to get the companion pass. Wish me luck!

  12. Have been following various posts in when to apply. Understood if I applied 10/4 the 90th day would be 1/1/18. If I spend the last dollar on 1/1 then my bonus points of 110,000 will hit in jan 2018. Accurate?

  13. So, like your cousin Heather example above, I have the plus card and have over 68k points this year. If I apply for the premier card now and meet the minimum spend I will earn the 60k point bonus and therefore earn companion pass?

  14. Thanks Sue, I took your advice. I applied and got instant approval on 9/22/2017. I SM (secure message) Chase informing them that my goal was to earn my bonus points in 2018 and what date range do I need to make in order to meet my goal. Here was the response that I wanted to have in writing (Although I had already called and been told something a little different).

    “I understand that you want to meet the spending
    criteria of $3,000.00 in such a way that you will receive
    the 60,000 bonus points in 2018. Let me share that in
    order to qualify for 60,000 bonus points you need to meet
    the spending criteria of $3,000.00 by January 15, 2018.
    Please note that Rapid Rewards points will post at
    Southwest within 30 days of account cycle date each month.
    Your statement closing date is on the 10th of each month.
    Therefore, if you meet the spending criteria of $3,000.00
    after your December 10, 2017 statement closes (but before
    January 15, 2018), you can be sure that the 60,000 bonus
    points will post on your January 10, 2018 billing
    statement or February 10, 2018 billing statement.

    Your eligible purchases do not include balance transfers,
    cash advances, and cash-like charges such as traveler’s
    checks, foreign currency, and money orders, any checks
    that access your account, overdraft advances, interest,
    unauthorized or fraudulent charges, or fees of any kind,
    including an annual fee if applicable”

    Hope this helps people trying to figure this out and to get an idea of statement dates remember I applied and approved on 9/22. Also, they confirmed the 115-day spending time people have mentioned. But I’m still meet my spend amount after my December statement closes.

    So I decided to stay under the spend until around the 12/15 or anytime after my December close statement because the points will then post on my January statement (as long as stay under my spend till after my December statement the 10th).

    I know a lot of people like to apply after October 1st but I’m going on a week vacation in about 10 days and hope to rack up $$ on it while staying under the spend of 3k (Business card only, personal 2k spend) until 12/10. I want to get other SW card and meet my 2k spend during Xmas shopping.

    So now I have to apply for another one. I may wait until 9/30 but I’m itching to apply to make sure I’m going to get it (which I see no reason I wouldn’t). On a side note, I researched and found it interesting that Chase doesn’t count this business card (and I believe all other business cards) under the infamous Chase 5/24 guideline. Thanks again

  15. Yvette I too was confused…

    But I would not apply after the 10/4 because the promo for the 60k points expires then. And to make it worst there are reports (even here) that it may actually be 10/1. So although I applied already for one yesterday. I will be sure to apply for the other anytime from now until before the end of 9/3. Chase actual give you 115 days. Which I understand is confusing because it says “3 months” but its a long story so if your nervous you can do it in 3 months too. If you apply before 10/1, THE KEY is to not to exceed your spend amount unitl after your December statement closes. So what I did was as soon after I got approved (yesterday) I called and asked them what was my statement date was to figure out that. YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR STATEMENT CLOSE DATE.

    After all that I took it to another level and secured message them through my Chase portal and got it all in writing. I RECOMMEND YOU DO THE SAME. Now see my long post before this. I hope this helps.

    P.S.
    If you apply after 10/4 you’ll still be able to get the pass but most likely will start will less than 60k points per card towards 110k needed. IF I had to guess it be like before 50k or less.

  16. @ Henry E — Well, your first step should be to call Chase and see what your last date is for meeting the minimum spend, rather than assuming it’s 12/15.

    You can also then ask to have your statement closing date moved to later in the month. With how it is currently, your statement closes 12/19, and that’s roughly when your points would post as well.

  17. @Alan you need to apply for SW another card (if you’re within 5/24 guideline) and meet your spend before your Nov. close date (the sooner the better) so that you will get the pass for the rest 2017 and 2018. If you wait and meet your spend after the points this year on the 1st card will not count towards a pass. It has to be done in the same calendar year.

  18. @ Steven Y — That sounds correct, but I’d find out the date for meeting your minimum spend. Like Sue noted above, it’s “three months” not “90 days” so that could give you a little more flexibility. But ask!

  19. @ Alan — Yep! 68k + 60k = 128k, which is more than enough for the Companion Pass. Just make sure your bonus points post in 2017, otherwise you’ll be starting over for next year.

  20. @Tiffany thank you. I am happy to report I just applied for the SW Plus Card today after being approved for the SW Business Premier yesterday and got approved! So I’m on my way to my 1st Companion Pass. I decided to go with the SW Plus for my personal card because of the lower annual and I’m not sure if I may cancel it before the anniversary or around the 10th month if I don’t use it enough. Then wait 2 years to do it all again if it’s still possible. Thanks again!

  21. According to Steven Y response if I apply today (Sept 27) and limit my spending to after my December statement close date (about 3 months), I will have my 60,000 points posted for 2018 and not 2017? Thanks!

  22. Hello Tiffany my names michael I have the plus SW card once I hit minimum spend ill be awarded 60K in points my question to you is I’ve sent chase a secure message asking when my last day would be to hit spend and I received a reply back stating December 28th my cycle doesn’t end until the 4th of each month so do you think I can wait until say December 20 and hit the spend technically I’ll meet spend in 2017 but points don’t post until end of cycle I’ll apply for other card soon or in the beginning of 2018 please someone give me some feedback

  23. @ Michael — Yes, that should be fine, but I might ask if you can push your statement closing date back to the 1st just to be on the safe side.

  24. @tiffany thanks for the reply I believe when I first was approved on sep 4th I did call and push back furthest I could which is date I have but I’ll call and double check. I’m really looking to gain the pass for 2018-2019.

  25. My experience as this offer draws to a close…….

    After I received the two Chase Southwest cards in late September, (as suggested here – Thank you, Tiffany!) I called and asked Chase member services to push my payment date as far back as allowed. They said I could push it back to the 26th of each month. By doing so, my monthly closing date changed to the 1st of every month. The 1st of every month is now the LAST DAY charges posted are included on my statement. This means my monthly statement period runs from the 2nd of each month (for posted charges) to the 1st of every month (regardless of the number of days in the month). I was told that the 26th of each month was the latest payment date that I could ask for because February ends on the 28th.

    I also created a Chase account on-line. I then sent Chase Customer service a two secure messages (one for each card) asking them to confirm the latest date that I could purchase something and have it count towards meeting the dollar spending requirement. I was told January 12th for one card (officially opened per my statement on 9/19) and January 16th for the other one (officially opened per my statement on 9/23). The rationale in the email stated: “The additional time frame is given due to the delivery of the card.” I wasn’t demanding or snotty – just very matter of fact asking a question. When I called and asked the same question, I was verbally told that I had only 90 days from the issue date (with no additional time).

    Boiling all this down, to have the miles posted in 2018, I have to hit the dollar spend limit with posted charges between 12/2 and either 1/12/18 or 1/19/18 respectively. With a closing date of the 1st, the miles should hit my account on the 3rd or 4th (according to what I’ve read on this blog). My plan is to hit the spending limit within 90 days of the card’s issuance just to be safe. Doing so, potentially gives me an additional month of a companion pass.

    One thing the customer service people stressed with me was that to count as a “purchase”, the charge actually had to hit (or POST) to your account within the required time frame. In many cases, it take a day or two for a charge to actually POST. Trust me, I don’t plan on cutting it close.

    Good luck to all!

  26. Hi. I have a question. I qualified and was approved for two cards today for the 60,000 mile bonus. So I will qualify for the 110 thousand miles for the companion pass from the bonus miles alone I do you have to hit my minimum spends within the 90 days which as I understand it is from the date of approval which was today so that would make it January 1. I want the companion pass to be valid for 2018 and 19. If I meet my minimum spend in December, would the miles immediately post for the bonus in 2017? I’m a little confused by when I need to have hit my minimum spend in order to have the points count in 2018.

  27. @ Karen McGrath — You’ll want to check with Chase and see how long you have to meet your minimum spend, don’t guess. If you meet the minimum spend during a statement period that closes in 2017, the points will post in 2017.

  28. Dear Karen M:

    Yes, it is quite confusing……..I struggled with it. Hopefully this will help….

    To get the companion pass for 2018 and 2019, you need your 120,000 points to post in 2018.

    Remember, your Southwest points will post to your Southwest account within a few days of the Closing Date of the month in which you hit the required spending amount. Thus, it’s imperative that you properly time WHEN YOU CROSS the required spending limit/threshold. You can spend up to the spending requirement prior to, but you can’t hit or cross the spending requirement until you are in December and have a January Closing Date.

    For example, if you hit the spending requirement for a card in November, your points will post in December. The worst scenario for anyone would be if they earned 60,000 points on one card in 2017 and 60,000 points on the other card in 2018. In that case, the person would still earn 120,000 point, but they will not earn a companion pass because they need to earn 110,000 points in the same calendar year.

    Boiling it down, you must reach your spending requirement ON BOTH CARDS such that the Southwest points FOR BOTH CARDS are POSTED in January, 2018. To do so, you need:
    1. hit each credit card’s spending requirement in December (after your November statement has closed); and
    2. the Closing Date for your December charges be in January 2018.

    Now that you have your cards, call Chase immediately and make sure your PAYMENT DATE is the 26th of each month (it’s the only date you can affect). They let you change it one time and then only every six months thereafter. By setting your Payment Date to the 26th of every month, your Statement Closing Date will become the 1st of every month. The Closing Date is the LAST DAY of the month in which your credit card charges are accumulated, e.g., your December statement will close on January 1st – bingo.

    With a Closing Date of the 1st of every month (based on a 26th of the month payment date), your POSTED charges for each month will accumulate between the 2nd of every month and closing on the 1st of the following month. For your December Statement, it will be based on POSTED charges from December 2, 2017 to January 1, 2018. In that case, your points will post to your Southwest account a few days after the statement close date (i.e., around January 4, 2018).

    Three final points:
    1. It is absolutely critical that you NOT go over the spending requirement FOR EITHER CREDIT CARD until you’re in a December and you need a Closing Date that falls in January, 2018;
    2. The fee for the card does NOT count towards your card’s required spending requirement; and
    3. To count towards the spending requirement, the charges actually have to have POSTED, which means that purchases you make need to be done a couple days ahead of when you want them to post.

  29. Got the Southwest reward bonuses in January and April 2016. Applied in Dec ’15/Jan ’16. Looking to get the cards again for ’18 & ’19, but noticed this new language on the $60K offer below.

    Should I wait till April to apply or has anyone had success within this 24 month period?

    *60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.*This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

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