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Last year my wife and I went on three trips together and only paid airfare for one person each time, saving us more than $1,000. We have the Southwest Companion Pass®️ to thank for that.

If you're not familiar with the Southwest Companion Pass, it's, in my opinion, the best flight deal around if you usually travel with another person. For as long as you have it, you can designate a companion who can essentially fly for free on Southwest when they travel with you on the same flight. You do have to pay taxes for the companion, but those are usually no more than $5.60 each way.

How We Got the Companion Pass

Early last year, there was a promotion for the Southwest consumer credit cards where new customers could earn the Companion Pass for a year, plus 30,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Since we planned on going on a few trips that year, this was the perfect deal for us. Fly two people for the price of one? Sign me up!

We were able to meet the $4,000 spend requirement the first month and received the Companion Pass after our first credit card statement. Normally we use different cards for different types of purchases to maximize the value, but to speed things up we basically put every expense we had on our new Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus credit card until we cleared the $4,000 threshold.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

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Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$69
  • Sign Up Bonus 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

This is a great starter card for infrequent domestic travelers who want to earn rewards toward discounted Southwest flights without a huge annual fee. You won't get a ton of perks compared to other Southwest cards, and this card does charge foreign transaction fees so probably isn’t best for international travelers.


This is the entry-level card for aspiring Rapid Rewards point earners, and new cardholders can earn a nice sign-up bonus, which can help get you closer to booking flights for your next travel destination. This card also earns 3,000 anniversary points each year and 2 EarlyBird check-ins annually.

Above all, for a modest $69 annual fee, the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card helps you rack up points as cheaply as possible.


  • 2x points on Southwest purchases, local transit and commuting, select streaming and more
  • Annual fee that's palatable
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®


  • In exchange for a lower annual fee, the card's ongoing benefits may seem lackluster
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

How We Used It

Couple at the top of Diamond Head, Oahu

When I found out about the Companion Pass promo, I was already in the process of planning a Hawaii trip for me and my wife. We didn't have a lot of flexibility with the dates, so I didn't have the luxury of waiting for a low fare. On top of that, there weren't a lot of available seats for the flights I was tracking, so I didn't feel comfortable waiting for the pass to get added to my Rapid Rewards account. But since Southwest has a great cancellation policy I booked two tickets to hold our spots, and then I canceled the extra ticket as soon as I got it and added my wife as a companion. I didn't get a refund, but I received a flight credit that I used on our next trip.

The tickets from Las Vegas to Hawaii (and an island hopper round trip between Oahu and Maui) were just under $500 per person, so we saved a lot of money on the first trip alone. The taxes we paid for my wife's tickets were only $22.40 round trip.

The next trip was to Washington, D.C., and I used 20,000 Rapid Rewards points from the sign-up bonus (about $280 in value) for my ticket and paid $11.20 in taxes for my wife's. We also had a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points saved, which we used to pay for our hotel. Trips like this makes me frustrated with myself for not jumping into credit cards points earlier in my life. You can afford to travel more frequently when your out-of-pocket cost for flights and hotels are this low.

Our last trip was to Santa Barbara and that cost $298 round trip for me and another $11.20 in taxes for the Companion Pass ticket.

All in all, we spent just under $45 in taxes for four Companion Pass round-trip tickets instead of $1,078 for full-price seats, saving more than $1,000. If that's not a good deal, I don't know what is.

Money Saved on Flights

Trip My Ticket Cost Companion Cost Total Cost Savings






Washington, D.C.





Santa Barbara










How You Can Get It

The easiest way to get the Companion Pass for a year is through a credit card bonus offer, and the same deal we got last year is available again. You can read more about that here.

If you're not in a rush to get it, there are four other ways you can get the Southwest Companion Pass. It essentially comes down to different strategies of collecting 135,000 Rapid Rewards points in a year, or 100 one-way Southwest flights. Personally, that sounds way more daunting than signing up for a credit card, but if you fly frequently for work, it might be a better route.

One less common way to get it is via special promotions directly from Southwest. A few years ago, I got the Companion Pass by taking six one-way flights on Southwest within three months. It was a deal specific to California residents that I found in the Southwest app. Luckily, I had two work trips scheduled for that time period, so I only needed to pay for one extra out of pocket. I didn't really have anywhere to go and was running short on time, so I just did a mileage run (remember those?) and flew back and forth from LAX to Las Vegas the same night. I think I paid less than $100 for that ticket, so it was worth it.

Those offers are less common, but it's worth checking the offers section in the Southwest app in case you get a targeted one.

Was It Worth It?

Absolutely. The only ways you don't get value out of the Companion Pass is if you usually fly by yourself, don't live near a city that has a lot of Southwest flights or you mostly fly outside of North America. For everyone else, it's definitely worth considering.

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Johan Mengesha

Johan Mengesha is the VP of Content at Slickdeals. He has written for print and online media outlets since 2003 and has a journalism degree from Cal State Northridge. Published work has appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News, GoBankingRates and