Despite showing this portion of my channel about as much love as an absentee father, I have not been idle. Most notably, I recently and successfully completed the Bi-annual Southwest Companion Pass Challenge. It is of course a bi-annual event because the coveted Southwest status is granted for both the year earned and the following trip around Sol.
What Is it?
That said, I want to back up for a minute and talk about what the Companion Pass is exactly. Often referred to as the most valuable perk offered by any airline, it essentially let’s you fly two-for-one on any Southwest operated flight. Furthermore, and to make this honeypot even sweeter, is the fact it doesn’t even have to be a revenue flight. In other words, travel booked using those hard-earned miles count as well. That’s right, two-for-one Southwest flights for almost two years for those who play the game right. Surprisingly, aside from the government’s sleazy $5.60 security theater fee, there really is no catch. And, just to stave off any confusion, this isn’t a one-time thing, it’s literally any flight while you hold the pass. Use it once or dozens of times. Kind of feels like one of those situations where you’re giving it a confused dog look, just to make sure it’s not too good to be true.
How Do I Get It?
Worth noting, is that Southwest operates two status tiers, the other being A-List preferred. Oddly, the two aren’t linear. In other words, you don’t earn one before the other. The Companion Pass comes after 110,000 Companion qualifying miles and the latter after 70,000 A-List qualifying points.
Per Southwest, the following count as Companion Qualifying points. I’ll skip over the A-list one’s because 1) it’s a worthless status and 2) nobody really cares. So to qualify for the CP, you’ll need to post those 110,000 points from your credit card spend, Southwest dining, travel and less commonly, home and lifestyle spend. In other words, bonus points for spending through Southwest’s retail partners.
Most important to a playa in the points and miles game is the fact that one can earn the pass using credit card signup bonuses. Personally, I qualified after opening the Chase Rapid Rewards Business Card for 60,000 points followed by the Chase Rapid Rewards Plus personal one for 40,000. Back in the olden days, one used to have the opportunity to open two personal cards to qualify, but as of several months ago Chase and/or Southwest put the kibosh on that gravy train.
Not to worry though, most people who can qualify for a Rapid Rewards personal card can also do so for a business one. As long as some business activity can be shown, one is good to go. So in addition to earning some cash, that Etsy store could also earn you and a special someone free flights.
However, as a footnote to the above advice, and what might come across as completely contradictory to what was previously said, is the fact that Chase does appear to be cracking down a little bit. In my particular case, they did ask that I fax them a copy of my businesses organization docs, so YMMV.
What Happens Next?
So, after meeting the minimum spend requirements and theoretically earning enough points to qualify for Companion Pass, what happens? Well, at first, jack shit. So little in fact that I had to reach out to Chase to figure out what was going on, I wrote the following:
To which they replied:
Hello Aaron, I will be glad to assist you with your sign up bonus inquiry on your Southwest® Rapid Rewards Credit Card.
Aaron, we reviewed your account and have confirmed the offer you inquired about was 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000.00 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
Congratulations on meeting the spend. The bonus points will reflect on your April 28, 2018 credit card statement.
Rewards are available for use once they appear on your statement. If you are enrolled in a partner reward program, they will transfer and post to your partner account within 30 days from the statement date.
We appreciate your business and thank you for being a Chase customer.
Thank you, Kavita
So at this point, I’m a little bit annoyed. This potential 1-2 month delay effectively means a couple months I’m unable to use the Companion pass that I’ve earned, but have yet to receive. But, as is the case with much of life, there’s not much you can do about it.
Now fast forward to April 30th and voila, I got an email from Southwest informing them that I’ve earned Companion Pass and it was now time to select my companion. Even more exiting, was the fact that I could log on to my Rapid Rewards account and see the status, in all it’s electronic glory.
Does Anything Show Up in the Mail?
Sadly, I didn’t receive any written communication or swag via snail mail from Southwest…until today, June 17, 2018. Over a month and a half later. With that said, let me show you exactly what I found in my legacy postal box.
Just to recap: I earned my Southwest Companion Pass via the easy back-door route instead of the airline-preferred flight method. After meeting the minimum spend requirements on the Rapid Rewards Business card and the Rapid Rewards Personal Card I was just about there. The balance I made up with some everyday spend. Though it does pain me to put any money on any card if I’m not earning some sort of bonus points.