Most products on this page are from partners who may compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how they appear on the page. However, opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain.

The Southwest Companion Pass® is one of the most popular travel tools out there because it allows you to bring a friend with you on your trip for free. If you live in a Southwest Airlines hub and often travel with a buddy, the Companion Pass is the smartest way to fly and save. There are a few ways to earn the Companion Pass, and you can earn it without even stepping on a plane. Plus, it’s valid on paid and award bookings with no blackout date limitations, providing flexibility and convenience. 

Despite its ubiquity in the travel rewards space, there are still many misconceptions and things that the average consumer gets wrong about this benefit. Here are seven things you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass.

1. You Can Earn a Companion Pass with a Southwest Credit Card

hand holding Southwest Credit card

Slickdeals

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass normally requires completing 100 flights or earning 135,000 points in a calendar year. However, you don’t have to fly to earn the required 135,000 points. Southwest counts virtually all spending toward this requirement, including credit card purchases, dining rewards, shopping portal activity, hotels, and rental cars booked through Southwest. Even the welcome bonus from the Southwest credit cards counts toward the Southwest Companion Pass.

If you’re looking for a faster way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, there’s good news. For a limited time, the Southwest consumer credit cards are offering the Companion Pass as part of the welcome bonus. All you have to do is complete the designated spending requirement for each card. 

Compare Southwest Consumer Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee Intro Bonus Perks Learn More

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

$69 Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

$99 Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

$149 Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:

  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 25% back on inflight drinks & Wi-Fi
  • 4 upgraded boardings when available

2. You Can Add Anyone as a Companion (and Change It Too)

Southwest allows you to designate anyone as your companion – you can choose a friend, family member, co-worker, or a complete stranger. The process is simple and can be done online. Once designated, you’re not stuck with your choice, either. You can change your companion up to three times per year, providing plenty of flexibility to accommodate your changing travel habits and plans.

3. It’s Valid on Both Paid and Award Flights

Southwest airlines plane

Unsplash

The great thing about the Southwest Companion Pass is that it’s valid on any flight. It can be used on paid and award tickets on any Southwest-operated route, with no blackout dates. When Southwest runs an airfare sale, you can save even more if you’re traveling with a companion. During times when airfare rises, the Companion Fare can help you redeem fewer points on these flights.

What Slickdealers Are Saying

“I’ve had the Southwest Companion Pass twice and I think it’s the best deal around when it comes to saving money on flights (unless you mostly travel outside of North America). Last year, my wife and I flew together three times and only paid for one ticket each time. We went to Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Santa Barbara (and we’re trying to sneak in one more quick trip before it expires).

“The value for the free tickets we got through the Companion Pass equated to about $1,000 for those three trips. Considering we got the pass through a credit card sign-up bonus, we didn’t really have to change our spending habits to get it. So all I really paid to get it was the $69 annual fee, which is a slick deal in my book.”

Johan Mengesha Vice President, Content

4. Earn It at the Beginning of the Year to Maximize Its Benefits

Once earned, your Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year you earned it, plus the following full calendar year. For example, if you earn your Companion Pass in March 2025, it’s valid through December 2026. Therefore, the best time to earn the Companion Pass is January of each year. That way, your pass is valid for nearly two years, giving you plenty of opportunity to enjoy it.

5. You Can Use It Unlimited Times

There is no limit to the number of times you can fly with your designated companion. As long as a seat is available on your flight, you can add them to the reservation. You can do this as often as you’d like while your Companion Pass is valid. This differs from other airline companion passes, which are single-use only and sometimes subject to blackout dates or other restrictions.

6. A Companion Ticket Isn’t Exactly Free

iStock

Social media influencers often tout the “free” flight benefit offered to Southwest Companion Pass holders. It’s important to note that traveling with a companion pass isn’t exactly free. You will still need to pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket, even if you redeem points. Southwest award tickets incur a minimum tax of $5.60 each way – a relatively small cost but worth being aware of.

Recommended Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro Bonus Annual Fee Rewards Rate Learn More

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

$95 1x- 5xPoints More Info

The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), as well as 3x points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This card earns 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Companion Pass®Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Limited-time offer: earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/25 plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Dollar Equivalent:

$99 1x - 3xPoints More Info

Earn 3 points for every $1 on Southwest Airlines® purchases, 2 points for every $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshare), 2 points per $1 on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.

United Gateway℠ Card

30,000United MileagePlus Miles More Info

Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Dollar Equivalent: $420 (30,000 United MileagePlus Miles * 0.014 base)

$0 1x - 2xPoints More Info

Earn 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases, local transit and commuting and at gas stations. You’ll earn 1X mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Citi Premier® Card

60,000Citi ThankYou Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou Points after making $4,000 worth of purchases during the first three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,080 (60,000 Citi ThankYou Points * 0.018 base)

$95 1X-10XPoints More Info

10X total ThankYou® Points per $1 spend on hotel, car rentals and attractions (excluding air travel) booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024. 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Other Hotels 3X -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets 1X -- Earn 1 Point on All Other Purchases

7. You Can Save a Ton on International Flights and Peak Bookings

Some of the best uses of the Southwest Companion Pass include international flights or tickets booked during peak times. Southwest is one of the few airlines that don’t impose blackout dates on award bookings, meaning you can redeem points on any flight as long as there’s a seat open. Sometimes, this translates to steep airfare and will cost you more in reward points. However, using the Companion Pass takes the sting out of these increased prices. 

Southwest currently operates numerous international flights, including to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Fares to these destinations can be high, especially during peak travel season. With a Companion Pass, you can cut the cost of these flights in half when traveling with another person.

Bottom Line

The Southwest Companion Pass can offer tremendous value for Southwest Rapid Rewards members who want to save money and points on travel. By familiarizing yourself with the rules and limitations of the pass, you can make the most of this coveted perk. Most importantly, you’ll want to time it right so that you can use the pass for as long as possible.

Southwest airplane in sky Related Article

A Complete Guide to the Southwest Companion Pass

Read More
AA

Ariana Arghandewal

Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser, an online publication dedicated to rewards travel topics. She brings over a decade of experience writing about travel, points, miles and credit cards. Her expertise includes her roles as an editor for distinguished travel and finance publications such as NerdWallet, The Points Guy and FlyerTalk. She has also authored many articles featured in major financial news & travel channels like Forbes, U.S. News Weekly, Business Insider & Fodor’s Travel.