If you live in California, fly Southwest, and aren’t locked out by Chase’s 5/24 rule, then please take advantage of this insane offer.

California residents can open any one Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and make one purchase with it before November 30, 2017, and they will qualify for a Companion Pass for all of 2018. Seriously.

  • Personal Plus: 40,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months, $69 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 3,000 bonus points each year you renew
  • Premier Plus: 40,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in three months, $99 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 6,000 bonus points each year you renew
  • Premier Business Card: 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in three months, $99 annual fee NOT waived for the first year, 6,000 bonus points each year you renew

When we first started seeing buzz about this offer, it appeared to be targeted. That is no longer the case. Any California resident cant jump on this totally public promotion.

You’ll of course also earn the sign up bonus for meeting whichever minimum spending requirement you apply for, but you don’t need to finish it in order to trigger the Companion Pass. You’ll earn that as soon as you make your first purchase!

Remind me, what’s the Companion Pass?

The Companion Pass allows you to designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight (typically $5.60) you fly, no matter whether you pay with cash or Rapid Rewards. It’s easily one of the best deals in travel if you fly often domestically (Southwest even has some nearby international destinations, like Mexico, Turks and Caicos, Belize, and Costa Rica).

Normally you have to earn it by either…

  • flying 100 paid segments
  • accumulating 110,000 Rapid Rewards within a calendar year, which you could do by spending a ton of money on one Southwest Card, flying a bunch of paid flights, or opening and meeting the minimum spending requirements on two Southwest Credit Cards + some extra spending/shopping portal bonus earning

Most people go the route of opening multiple Southwest cards/completing some extra spend/shopping portal bonus earning. But as you can see, all of these ways are exponentially harder than opening one Southwest credit card and putting one purchase on it! Seriously, that is just laughable.

5/24 Will Apply

If you’ve opened more than five credit cards from any bank (with the exception of most business cards) in the last 24 months, then Chase will deny you for almost all of their cards (with the exception of these). That’s where the name 5/24 rule comes from. Unfortunately the 5/24 rule does apply to all of Chase’s Southwest cards.

Southwest Expanding to Hawaii

About a week ago Southwest announced that, pending government approval, the airline will start flying to Hawaii in 2018. Exact routes and schedules are yet to be known, but one of the announcers did say flights to Hawaii would be from California. This is fantastic news for someone taking advantage of this California Southwest promotion, and mean multiple cheap trips to Hawaii next year! Of course, it’s going to take time for Southwest to have their routes approved and finalized, so only time will tell.

There’s also speculation over whether or not use of the Companion Pass will be allowed on flights to Hawaii when 2018 is bound to see tons more California-based Companion Pass flyers thanks to this promotion. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see. For Californians sake, I certainly hope they can get a few cheap trips to the islands in before 2018 draws to a close.

Want a Companion Pass but don’t live in California?

Southwest is currently offering a 60,000 point sign up bonus on it’s Premier Business credit card. The personal cards bonuses recently dropped to 40k each. If you have the spending capability and haven’t opened a bunch of cards recently (Chase 5/24 rule applies, business card has a $3k minimum spend, the personal cards have $2k minimum spends each) then you could open all three and that would suffice for the Companion Pass. Just make sure you left 30 days between the application for the second and third card as Chase is known for only approving people for two cards in a 30 day period.

You could also open one business and one personal card, earn 105,000 Rapid Rewards from a 60k bonus + 40k bonus + 5k in non-bonused spending meeting the requirement, and then spend another $5,000 on one or collectively both of those cards.

Whatever you do, if you want to earn a Companion Pass for all of 2018 and 2019, make sure you are careful about when you complete your minimum spending requirements as you want your points to post in 2018 and not 2017 (or else you’d get the Companion Pass for a few days in 2017 and 2018–not ideal). Read Timing the Southwest Cards for Companion Pass in 2018 & 2019 for more details about how/when points post and planning your strategy.

Bottom Line

If you live in California and haven’t opened more than five personal credit cards in the last 24 months, follow this link to apply for one of Chase’s Southwest co-branded credit cards. Apply and make one purchase on your new card by November 30, 2017, and your elected companion will fly for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly through the end of 2018.

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