Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Earning the Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most lucrative deals in travel.
By earning 110,000 Southwest qualifying points in a single calendar year (January – December), you can bring a companion along on your Southwest flights for free (plus any of the normal taxes / airport fees).
You can even bring a companion along free on trips you book with your points, which really stretches their value.
The deal lasts for the remainder of the year you qualify, and all of the following year. So if you earn the 110,000 points by April, you’ll have Companion Pass for the rest of the year, and all of next year.
The two fastest ways to earn lots of points toward Companion Pass without flying are:
1. Getting the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards (Personal, Premier Business, or Plus)
When there are 50,000 point deals available on the Southwest credit cards it’s not hard to rack up over 100,000 points quickly.
And using these cards for most of your spending helps you make up the remaining points to get to 110,000 in a year.
2. Topping off your Southwest account by transferring Marriott points
Marriott Rewards points can be earned quickly via sign on bonuses from the Marriott cards, or by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott.
Transfers from Marriott to Southwest aren’t an even exchange – your points get diluted – but Marriott has some of the more favorable exchange rates for hotel points to Southwest points. For example, you can transfer 140,000 Marriott points into 50,000 Southwest points.
They’re pretty easy to earn with good signup bonuses for both its personal and business cards, as well as Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, whose points transfer directly into Marriott anytime.
And if you’re already flying Southwest a lot, you probably have a stash of Marriott points to play with anyway from your hotel stays.
The Wall Street Journal wrote a story on the pass, and there is good news from the story if you’re worried this deal is too good to last.
So Southwest seems okay with the rise in earning the Companion Pass without a lot of flying we’ve seen over the last few years. That’s probably because most people just don’t want to put in the research and effort with cards to accomplish it, though for anyone who is deal hungry, it’s not terribly difficult.
Of course airlines can and do change benefits in a snap, but Southwest publicly stating facts about the pass, and that it has no plans to change make it seem a decent bet to stay in place for the next year or so.
As a reminder qualifying points for Companion Pass are any Southwest points you earn via flying, the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards (including sign on bonuses), or via travel partners like hotel and car rental programs (including transfers from hotel programs). Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, like points earned via the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, don’t qualify.
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