The bonuses on all of the personal Southwest cards are tiered and the same:

  • 40,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $1,000 within three months of opening the account
  • An additional 20,000 Rapid Rewards for spending a total of $12,000 within 12 months of opening the account

So if you spent $12,000 within the first year on your new personal Southwest credit card, you’d end up with at least 72,000 Rapid Rewards (40k bonus, 20k bonus, and 12k points for the spend it takes to unlock those bonuses).

The new Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card comes with an 80,000 Rapid Reward bonus.

Right now you only need to open one personal card–unlock just it’s 40k bonus–and also open the Performance Business card and you’ll have a boatload of points and a Southwest Companion Pass good until the end of 2021.

You can leverage the offers for ~$3,528 in free flights in 2020 and 2021.

Briefly

You can get both a personal and business card at once (note on the same day, but within a few days of each other), and after meeting their minimum spending requirements, you will have at least 126k Rapid Rewards post to your account (which is more than enough to earn the Companion Pass). That’s assuming you spend $5,000 on the business card within the first three months to earn its 80k bonus, and $1,000 on one of the consumer cards (also within the first three months) to unlock the first tier 40k bonus.

Southwest has a nearly fixed-value program in which you can get any Wanna Get Away? (the cheapest) fare for roughly 1.4 cents a piece. That means 126,000 points are worth $1,764 in free flights.

By earning 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards from credit cards in a single calendar year, you get the Southwest Companion Pass until the end of the next calendar year.

If you have the Southwest Companion pass, you can designate a companion who flies for just the taxes on every Southwest flight you fly. That’s $5.60 each way within the United States and a bit more on Southwest’s international routes. That’s every Southwest flight–including paid tickets and awards–for almost all of 2019 and 2020.

Therefore free travel from the 126k Rapid Rewards and a Companion Pass are worth around $3,528 (2 x $1,764).

  • What is a Southwest Companion Pass?
  • How can you get one from two credit cards?
  • How can you time this to make your companion pass last 18 months?

There are two primary ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass: fly 100 paid segments or open two credit cards.

This post will be about the easier and cheaper of the two: opening two credit cards.

Qualifying points CAN NOT be earned by transferring points directly from Ultimate Rewards or from hotel points transfers.

The Cards

There are five Southwest credit cards. The three consumer cards come with the same sign-up bonus but varying anniversary bonuses.

  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
    • Sign-up bonus:
      • 40,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $1,000 in three months
      • An additional 20,000 Rapid Rewards for spending a total of $12,000 within 12 months
    • Anniversary bonus: 3,000 Rapid Rewards
    • 2x on Southwest purchases
    • Annual fee: $69
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
    • Sign-up bonus
      • 40,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $1,000 in three months
      • An additional 20,000 Rapid Rewards for spending a total of $12,000 within 12 months
    • Anniversary bonus: 6,000 Rapid Rewards
    • 2x on Southwest purchases
    • $99
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
    • Sign-up bonus
      • 40,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $1,000 in three months
      • An additional 20,000 Rapid Rewards for spending a total of $12,000 within 12 months
    • Anniversary bonus: 7,500 Rapid Rewards
    • 2x on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases
    • 4 upgraded boardings a year
    • $75 in Southwest travel credit each year
    • 20% credit towards inflight purchases
    • Annual fee: $149
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
    • Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $3,000 in three months
    • Anniversary bonus: 6,000 Rapid Rewards
    • 2x on Southwest purchases
    • $99
  • Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
    • Sign-up bonus: 80,000 Rapid Rewards for spending $5,000 in three months
    • Anniversary bonus: 9,000 Rapid Rewards
    • 3x on Southwest purchases
    • 2x on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services
    • 4 upgraded boardings a year
    • Inflight WiFi Credits (365 $8 credits per year)
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
    • Annual fee: $199

None charge foreign transaction fees.

All cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule, which is that once you’ve opened five (with the exception of most business cards) credit cards in the last 24 months, Chase will deny you for their credit cards. But neither of the business cards will count in your 5/24 total. This means that you need to be under 5/24 to be eligible for the business cards, but opening one won’t change your total.

Can You Get Two Southwest Cards at Once?

You can and should get one consumer card and the business card if you want to get the Southwest Companion Pass. While you shouldn’t apply on the same day as that will likely trigger automatic denial of one, space out the applications by at least a few days and you should be ok.

Unfortunately, you cannot have two consumer Southwest credit cards at the same time, so if you are not eligible to open a business card, you will need to get creative to get your balance up to 110k.

The following excerpt is from Issuing Banks Rules for Approvals and New Bonuses, an important post to bookmark that covers all big issuing banks, so you don’t waste a hard credit pull or new card just to be rejected or not earn a sign up bonus:

“If you have the Personal Plus, Premier Plus, or the Priority Card open, you are not eligible for another Southwest consumer card. You are also ineligible for the bonus on a Southwest consumer card if you have earned a bonus on another consumer card in the last 24 months. The Business Southwest card is a separate product in regards to this rule. In other words, you can have both a consumer Southwest card and a business Southwest card open at the same time.”

So if you’re opening a Southwest consumer card and have earned the bonus on one recently, make sure you follow that 24 month rule.

Can I get a repeat Southwest card?

These cards are issued by Chase. You can get a Chase bonus again if it has been at least 24 months SINCE YOU GOT THE BONUS on the card previously, and the old card is closed.

Photo by Mark Doliner
Photo by Mark Doliner

The Strategy to Get 110k Southwest Rapid Rewards

Sign up for a personal card and the Performance Business card.

Spend $1,000 on the personal card card and $5,000 on the business card in the next three months. Once your statements closes on which you’ve met the minimum spending requirement, your bonus points will post. Meeting both spending requirements means you’ll get at least 126,000 Southwest points (40,000 bonus points + 80,000 bonus points +at least 6,000 points for everyday spending at 1 point per dollar).

How to Use the Companion Pass

Once you earn your Companion Pass, using it is a snap.

Now every flight you fly, your companion flies for just the taxes on the flight, which are $5.60 one way domestically and a little more internationally.

During the rest of 2019 and all of 2020, you can use your points to book yourself a flight for just the taxes and your Companion Pass to book your companion onto the same flight for just the taxes.

And if you can’t decide who to make your companion, you can actually designate up to seven people during the life of your Companion Pass because you can make three changes per calendar year:

  1. Original companion
  2. Change #1 in first year
  3. Change #2 in first year
  4. Change #3 in first year
  5. Change #1 in second year
  6. Change #2 in second year
  7. Change #3 in second year

That could be seven different people or it could be two people that you alternate or any number in between. I could see getting a lot of value by having one main companion, but you certainly don’t have to have the same companion the entire life of your pass.

  1. Original companion
  2. Friend #1
  3. Original companion
  4. Friend #2
  5. Original companion
  6. Friend #3
  7. Original companion

Recap

With a few easy steps, you can get $3,750 worth of travel on Southwest:

  1. Open two of the Southwest cards: one personal card and the new Performance business card, or both business cards. Here are your options:
  2. Meet the minimum spending requirements of $1,000 and $5,000 within three months on each card. That gives you at least 126,000 Rapid Rewards points, and which qualifies you for a Companion Pass for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
  3. Designate a companion (or seven) to fly just for the taxes on Southwest every time you fly on Southwest, whether you’re flying a paid ticket or an award.

Bonus

Why not have both parents get the Companion Pass and each name a child as a companion? That would be a 4-for-2 travel deal for up to two years.

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