The Best Domestic Travel Deal Out There: Free Southwest flights for almost 2 years!
I write a lot about international travel on this blog, because typically that is where you can get enormous value for your miles/points, depending on how you redeem them. However, recently I was asked by a reader about domestic travel. He told me that he wasn’t really interested in traveling internationally with his wife in the near future, so what was the best deal for shorter domestic trips? What miles should he be collecting and what hacks were the best for him? The easy and best answer is the Southwest Companion Pass, which allows your companion (whoever you designate) free flights with your paid ticket for almost 2 years!
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
A Companion Pass lets you designate one person of your choice to fly with you, anytime for an entire year–but it is actually good for not just the remainder of the year that you earn it in, also the following year. Thus, if you earn the Southwest Companion Pass this year, you will have the remainder of 2016 for your companion to travel free and ALSO all of 2017! This is a key point in maximizing the value of this benefit.
Just to simplify this whole thing: Anytime you purchase any ticket on Southwest for 2016 and 2017, after earning the Companion Pass, your designated companion will fly for free (only charged taxes) anywhere that Southwest flies. The potential value here is amazing!
How do you get the Companion Pass?
There are two ways to get the Southwest Companion Pass;
- You need to fly 100 1-way flights (within a calendar year) on Southwest to qualify for the companion pass
- You need to earn 110,000 points (within a calendar year) to qualify for the Companion Pass.
Now, 100 flights and/or 110,000 miles my seem daunting–and it probably would be if you actually had to FLY to earn them–but you don’t! Believe it or not, points from the Southwest credit card currently count towards the Companion Pass.
So what’s the play here?
Basically, by signing up for 2 Southwest credit cards and earning the bonus miles, plus a little additional, you can get buy one get one free travel on Southwest for almost 2 full years!
Step 1: Currently the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa is offering a 50,000 point bonus after you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months the account is open. You will have to pay the $99 annual fee which is not waived the first year.
So, after meeting the minimum spend on this card you will have a minimum of 52,000 points towards the 110,000 required for the companion pass.
Step 2: At the same time you open the Southwest personal card, also apply for the Southwest Premier Business Card. This card is currently publicly offering a 50,000 point bonus as well after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months. Again you will have to pay the $99 annual fee which is not waived the first year.
UPDATE: According to Doctor of Credit, you may be able to get a 60,000 point signup bonus on this card by calling 1-888-883-2721 and asking to apply for the Chase Southwest Business Premier card. Mention the offer code: DF01.
BUT WAIT, I DONT HAVE A BUSINESS….
You may or may not have a “business,” but almost anyone can get approved for a business credit card. Do you sell stuff on Ebay, Etsy, etc? Do you have a blog or website that you manage?
Perhaps Dansdeals says it best:
If Joe Smith sells items on Ebay or on Amazon, or has any other side business/hobby and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field. A perk of business card spending is that it doesn’t count against your credit utilization…the spending isn’t reported as long as you pay your bills. It’s also worth remembering that the credit line (and utilization) of business cards are not reported on your personal credit report, thus closing them also won’t effect your score.
Now, after meeting the minimum spend on this business card, you will have at least 52,000 or 62,000 points depending on the offer that you get.
Between the two credit cards you are very close to earning the Southwest Companion pass for the remainder of this year and the entire following year.
Step 3: Once you earn the 110,000 points required for the Southwest Companion Pass all you have to do is designate your companion. This can be your best friend, your spouse, your uncle, your mom, your cousin….whoever you want it to be. Best of all you can change your companion up to 3 times before your pass expires–so you can really maximize this benefit depending on your travel goals.
This is easily one of the best domestic travel hacks out there today. If you are looking to travel even a few times domestically in 2016 and 2017, you are essentially getting a buy one get one free deal on each flight with a companion. The companion pass is useable on ANY Southwest ticket–even award tickets. The only “catch” is there has to be an open seat on the flight you are trying to book–i.e. if the flight is sold out, you won’t be able to book a seat for your companion, but as long as there is a seat for sale, you can.
By the way, Southwest offers frequent ticket sales where you can fly to Vegas, Florida, California, Arizona, etc for as little as under $100 one way. If you truly want to maximize this Companion Pass benefit, wait for an airfare sale and book a $100 round trip ticket for you to go to Vegas and then use your Companion Pass to get your partner a free ticket. There is not much better in travel hacking than getting 2 round trip tickets across the country for around $100!
As always, let me know if you have any questions–also share your experiences!