Southwest 50,000 Point Offer Back
Last week, Chase brought back the Southwest Cards that offer 50,000 Point after spending $2,000 in 3 months.
In my post last week about logistics for Austin, I showed first hand how amazingly valuable Southwest Points can be.
Instead of the normal 50,000 Miles for 2 Award Tickets on United or American Airlines, using Southwest Points we only spent 33,718 Points TOTAL for 2 Tickets and saved $1,000+ in out of pocket costs on Airfare.
It is fairly obvious but the reason why I LUV Southwest is that their Award Ticket redemptions are mind blowingly cheap!
For another example, my Brother wants to go to NYC for his Birthday later this month.
One Award Ticket on Southwest costs ONLY 8,761 Points!
So for around 17,000 Points, BOTH OF US can fly to NYC for only $10 in taxes…
On United or American, an Award Ticket to NYC from Chicago would be 25,000 Miles EACH!
The reason why Southwest Awards tickets can be substantially cheaper than United and American, is because the cost of Southwest’s Award Tickets are based on the price of the Revenue Ticket.
For Southwest’s “Wanna Get Away” Fares, the formula to determine the amount of Rapid Reward Points needed is:
Base Fare (including Excise Tax) X 60 Points Per $1 = Rapid Rewards Points Needed
For the New York Ticket, the total cost of the Revenue Ticket was $167.80.
Clicking on the Fare Breakdown, you can see what the actual cost is, less all the 9/11 fees, etc.
So for this ticket, $146.00 (Base + Excise) x 60 Points per $1 = 8,761 Points needed
This formula can be applied to any Southwest Revenue Ticket, so depending on the price of the Revenue Ticket, you can get some major steals on Award Tickets!
Southwest Companion Pass
If you are planning on getting the Southwest Card and are in a relationship or primarily travel with 1 person, instead of both people getting the Southwest Card, I’d recommend one of you go for the Companion Pass.
The Southwest Companion Pass is EXTREMELY valuable and is probably the best “airline perk” out there for non-Elites!
For those of you not familiar with the Southwest Companion Pass, it is a pass that allows your Companion to fly with you FOR FREE on any Paid or AWARD flights on Southwest! So basically anytime you fly, your Companion can come along for free!
Although this kind of benefit may have existed way back in the day, it is unheard of in today’s Airline Industry. Just imagine if United or American offered something like this…
Why The Companion Pass Is Valuable
The reason why I tried to get the Companion Pass this year is that if you primarily travel with 1 person, the Companion Pass either cuts the cost of your Airfare in half (if you are buying Paid Tickets), or it doubles the value of your Points (if you are doing Award Tickets)!
So if you paid $250 for a Southwest flight from Chicago to Las Vegas, with your Companion Pass, your Companion would fly free. Therefore the total cost for 2 tickets would only be $125 each, which is a steal!
If you used Points and redeemed 20,000 Points for an Award Ticket on Southwest from Chicago to Las Vegas, your Companion would again fly for free. Your total cost in Points for 2 tickets would only be 10,000 Points each!
As you will see below, the Companion Pass is valid FOR THE YEAR YOU EARN IT AND THE NEXT YEAR!
So if you earned a Companion Pass now, it would be good until December 31st, 2014!
How To Earn The Companion Pass
To earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you need to take either 100 One-Way flights on Southwest (aka 50 Roundtrip flights) or earn 110,000 Points in 1 Calendar Year.
Thankfully, as of right now, Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses and Points earned from using your Credit Card currently count towards the 110,000 Points needed to earn the Companion Pass.
The reason why this is important is because by signing up and completing the Minimum Spend Requirement for both the Southwest Premier Personal and Business Premier Credit Card, you can earn 50,000 Points for each Card. This will get you 100,000 Southwest Points and put you within 10,000 Points of the Companion Pass.
Remember you can register for a Business Card even if you don’t have a “traditional business”. More information here.
I signed up for both the Southwest Business & Personal Cards last year and earned 100,000 Points (which would have counted towards 2013 Companion Pass status) BUT Chase messed up posting the Points and half the Points got posted in 2012 and the other half in 2013.
Thus I am left with only 50,000 Qualifying Points in 2013 : (
Luckily Chase a few variations of their Southwest Card, so in a few months I will apply for another one, get another 50,000 Points and hopefully earn my Companion Pass!
The Final 10,000 Points
While 2 Southwest Credit Cards will get you to 100,000 Points, you need 110,000 to get the Companion Pass.
To get the final 10,000 Points, you have a few easy options:
- Spend $10,000 on your Southwest Cards.
- Fly & Spend $833 on Business Select fares, $1,000 on Anytime fares, or $1,667 in Wanna Get Away fares and earn 10,000 Southwest Points.
- Transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards to Marriott Points, then transfer those 30,000 Marriott Points into 10,000 Southwest Points.
- Transfer 15,000 Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt Points, then transfer those 15,000 Hyatt Points into 7,200 Southwest Points.
I had 30,000 Marriott Points laying around, so last year I transferred those to Southwest. It takes about 48 hours to show up in your Southwest Account.
Although the transfer ratio is terrible with Marriott, those 30,000 Points would have gotten me over the 110,000 Point hump needed to earn the Companion Pass, so it was worth it.
If you don’t have any Hyatt or Marriott Points, then I would recommend going with Hyatt because it will only cost you 15,000 Ultimate Rewards Points instead of 30,000 with Marriott.
One thing I will point out is that you CANNOT earn Companion Pass Qualifying Points by transferring 10,000 Ultimate Rewards directly to Southwest! You have to go through a intermediary like Hyatt or Marriott!
To check the status of your Companion Pass, click here.
How To Maximize The Companion Pass
Getting the Companion Pass in itself is awesome, but if done right, you can really expand its shelf life.
So the Companion Pass is valid for the Calendar Year it is earned in AND the following Calendar Year.
If you earned your Companion Pass in 2013, then it would be valid for the rest of 2013 AND all of 2014.
As I stated above, all the Points for the Companion Pass need to be earned in a Calendar Year. Even though my Companion Pass got screwed up and it is already March, even if I earn the final 60,000 Points needed in June of 2013, my Companion Pass will be valid for ALL of 2013 AND 2014! So basically another 1 1/2 years!
If you do this correctly, the value you are getting out the Companion Pass is UNREAL!
Not only will you get the 100,000 Southwest Points from the Credit Card (which you can use with your Companion Pass), but you will also have the 10,000 Southwest Points from the Hotel Transfer at your disposal.
Since you have the Companion Pass, those 110,000 Points are basically now worth double since your Companion can fly with you for free. In other words, it is like you have 220,000 Points at your disposal!
As I talked about above, Southwest has a fixed formula for their Award Flights, so the 110,000 Points you earned to get the Companion Pass are worth $1,833 towards Wanna Get Away Fares. However since your Companion flies free, in reality that is $3,666 in free travel!
As long as it isn’t a peak travel time and you book in advance, from my experience you can fly anywhere on Southwest for around (or less) than 20,000 Points round trip.
So with this Companion Pass, at a minimum you should able to fairly easily get 2 Tickets x 5 Round Trip flights by signing up for the Southwest Personal and Business Credit Card and getting the Companion Pass.
Frequent Asked Questions
Here are some questions I suspect people have. If you have a question, simply leave a comment and I will answer it and then add it to the list.
Q: Can I Change My Companion?
A: You do physically have to assign someone as your Companion, so you can’t switch your Companion every time you fly but if you want, you can switch your Companion up to 3 times during the duration you have your Companion Pass.
Q: Can I Use My Southwest Companion Pass On Air Tran?
A: No, unless the route is being operated by Southwest.
Q: Can I Still Redeem My 110,000 Points For Flights Once I Earn The Companion Pass?
A: Yes, and you can also use your 110,000 Points with your Companion Pass.
If done right the Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals out there, hands down.
By signing up for 2 Credit Cards, you and your Companion can basically fly anywhere Southwest flies for free or 1/2 off!
While it would have been nice to get my Companion Pass at the beginning of 2013 (I have already taken 3 trips on Southwest this year), even if I earn the Pass in June, it will still be valid for another 1 1/2 years so not the end of the World.
The Companion Pass can also be a great deal for families because if the 2 Parents each get 2 Southwest Cards and earn a Companion Pass, then the Parents can designate the Children as their Companions and they would fly for free. By doing that, you could potentially get $7,322 in free travel! That is a lot of free trips to Disney…
Anyways I seriously hope everyone considers getting a Southwest Card or a Companion Pass because it is an absolutely amazing deal if done correctly!
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