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How to earn Southwest status: A-list and Companion Pass qualification

by on Mon January 2, 2017 • 55 Comments
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Southwest Airlines has three status tiers that afford you extra benefits when you fly Southwest: A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass.

A-List and A-List Preferred give you priority over other fliers when you fly, so you can snag better seats and board more quickly, while Companion Pass is a lucrative deal that lets you bring a designated companion along for no additional airfare on all your Southwest flights for over a year.

Unfortunately, Southwest buries a lot of the details on how to earn status in the fine print of its website, but we’ve summarized what you need to know below.

southweststatus

What are qualifying points?

Southwest uses two different kinds of point balances to track whether you qualify for A-List or Companion Pass status:

  • A-List “Tier Qualifying Points”
  • Companion Pass “Qualifying Points”

Keep in mind these are just balances for tracking purposes. They have nothing to do with the number of Rapid Rewards points you have available to book yourself award flights. And you can earn both kinds of qualifying points at the same time.

When do points count for status?

Your status earning goal clock starts ticking in January each year, and keeps running until December 31. Once you reach the goal, you’ll get your status for the remainder of the year, and all of the next year. So if you qualify really early in the year, you can enjoy status for almost two years.

What do you need to earn for A-List status?

Earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points OR fly 25 one-way flights (paid flights, not award tickets or flights where you’re a free companion)

What do you need to earn for A-List Preferred status?

Earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points OR fly 50 one-way flights (paid flights, not award tickets or flights where you’re a free companion)

What do you need to earn for Companion Pass status?

Earn 110,000 Qualifying Points OR 100 one-way flights

Note that earning Companion Pass won’t earn you A-List status unless you earn enough A-List Tier Qualifying Points.

Basically, if you earn Companion Pass without much flying, you probably won’t get A-List status. But if you earn it mostly through flying, you’ll end up with both A-List and Companion Pass status.

What points count for A-List?

  • Wanna Get Away fares: 6 points per dollar of base fare
  • Anytime fares: 10 points per dollar of base fare
  • Business Select fares: 12 points per dollar of base fare
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card points: You can earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points per $10,000 you spend on the card, up to a maximum of 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points each year. These points are separate from the Rapid Rewards points you earn and use for award flights. Only the Premier level credit card can earn these points, not the lower annual fee Plus card.

What does NOT count toward A-list Tier Qualifying

  • Points transferred into your Southwest account
  • Introductory bonuses on your Southwest Premier card
  • Points earned from Southwest Rapid Rewards partners
  • Special promotional flight bonuses
  • Points you buy

NOTE: Points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card hit your account after your statement has closed, not when you make a purchase. So if it’s close to the end of the year, there’s a risk your points will hit the account after December 31, and not count toward qualifying in the year you’re finishing off.

What points count for Companion Pass?

  • Wanna Get Away fares: 6 points per dollar of base fare
  • Anytime fares: 10 points per dollar of base fare
  • Business Select fares: 12 points per dollar of base fare
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card points (Plus or Premier): any points you earn from the card, including introductory sign on bonuses, count toward Companion Pass status
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Partners: base points you earn from Rapid Rewards Partners, like hotels, car rentals, Rapid Rewards Shopping, and Rapid Rewards Dining, are Companion Pass Qualifying. Points transferred in from hotel partners like Marriott will count only until March 31, 2017. After that, these transfers will not count.

What will NOT count

Points transferred directly from credit card rewards programs, like Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, won’t count toward Companion Pass.

Points you buy also don’t count.

As of March 31, 2017, transfers from hotel partners and car rental partners don’t count.

And bonus points from partners don’t count (though base points earned from partners do).

Here’s the official language:

“Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.”

Does Southwest match status?

Southwest generally won’t match your status from another airline program, but it may offer you a ‘challenge’ that asks you to complete some flights in a short period of time, and that can earn you status more quickly than completing a full year’s worth of requirements.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

Yes

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

55 thoughts on How to earn Southwest status: A-list and Companion Pass qualification

  1. Kent

    I am A – Listed and just used points for a roundtrip flight for the first time. Do I need to purchase “Early Bird” seating or does my status remain even though I am not actually purchasing the ticket?
    Thanks

    Reply
  2. Kevin

    From my understanding Southwest does not provide credit for connecting flights. For example, on American if you take a round trip and each way has a connection you will get credit for 4 segments. Southwest in the same situation would only provide you credit with two segments. Can you book two separate flights: round trip to your connection airport and round trip from connection to your final destination? I was trying to find a way to get credit for the connections to gain status faster. I understand if you checked a bag you would have to go pick it up and then recheck it but I generally dont check luggage.

    Reply
  3. Jim

    When and where do the 25% bonus points for a list show up? I just took an anytime flight and the points were posted. I do not see a 25% bonus in there.

    Thanks

    Reply
  4. LukeNtash

    ************ Please Help Us by using our link to get your 50,000 points*************** 🙂 🙂
    I have referrals available for the awesome Premier Card! We are trying to earn the companion pass so please help us by using our link to get an awesome 50,000 bonus points when signing up. And start earning towards your companion pass!! Thank You! Email me at Atashiawittwer @ Yahoo .com and ill email you the link for the card 🙂
    Or just tap on my name (LukeNTash) and it should take you to my link 🙂

    Reply
  5. Inquiring Minds

    If I book a round trip on Southwest with the outgoing leg in December and the returning flight in January, are the points split between the calendar years for each leg or all they all credited in January when the round trip is complete?

    Reply
  6. Tina

    Trying to reach the 6k to get my companion pass. If I bought SW gift cards with my SW credit card and then booked my flights using gift card would I earn points for both transactions. Points for purchasing cards with cc and points for booking flight using gift cards?

    Reply
  7. Kevin

    I posted referrals for both the personal plus and personal premier cards on my Facebook page.

    https [colon] // www [dot] facebook [dot] com/profile [dot] php?id=100015004831735

    Visit my profile for INSTANT access to both referrals. (50,000 points each)
    You can get 100,000 points for signing up for both cards.

    https : // www [dot] facebook [dot] com/profile [dot] php?id=100015004831735

    Or you can email me a kap20k4 [at] hotmail [dot] com
    Be advised it takes up to a week for chase to send emails.

    Happy Traveling

    Reply
  8. Cindy @ Smart Family Money

    In reading the fine print of the rapid rewards dining and shopping, it looks like bonus points from those do not count towards companion pass. Is this a new change? For the Rapid Rewards dining, I was counting on the new member bonus of 1,000 points counting towards the pass, but the fine print says it does not. Also, I was going to do the Turbo Tax offer through the shopping portal for 1,000 points, but it also says it doesn’t count towards companion pass. I was hoping to avoid spending another $6,000 on the cards, but I’m not seeing an alternative. Any advice?

    Reply
  9. Personal Plus and Premier

    I have referrals for both the personal plus as well as personal premier cards. Let me know if you’re interested.

    kap20k4 at hotmail dot com

    Kevin

    Reply
  10. Jason

    Hi,

    If my wife and I both sign up for the card (different accounts) and get our 50k point bonuses, can my wife then gift me all her points to count towards companion pass?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Brittany

    Does the companion pass count points earned or actual points had in one year? If I get two credit cards and earn the 104,000 sign on points then do some spending to get to the 110,000 can I book a flight with my points prior to reaching the 110,000 and still earn the companion pass? For example say I have 104,000 points today and book a flight with 50,000 points. Then next month I accrue 6,000 points. Do I get the companion pass because I earned 110,000 this year? Or no because I don’t currently have 110,000 points?

    Reply
    1. CJ

      Yes. The points needed for the companion pass is continuously accruing regardless of spending points. If you book a flight with points, I don’t think you get points added to your accrual for the companion (because you already accrued those if that makes sense). When you log into Southwest Rapid Rewards, you’ll see your current point balance on the left, and the balance that you’ve accrued for the companion pass on the right.

      Reply
  12. A-list quandary

    I know I’ll have a lot of flying in 2017 and am contemplating going for a-list status. However, that seems to mean i must purchase all my flights instead of using my 30k (and rising) reward points….which will be hard to swallow. So is a good plan to buy ALL 2017 tix, bank points frm flights and my SW cc, earn a-list status and then use pts and enjoy status in 2018? Or, forgo the delayed gratification and just purchase early bird chk in and go about my business?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @A-list quandaray – Well the 30k points can get you about $450 worth of flights. That’s probably 2 or 3 roundtrips at most. Question is how much flying do you plan to need to do beyond about $450 worth? Early bird checkin costs $30 roundtrip.

      Reply
  13. Ed

    My wife is A-List preferred and close to a companion pass. Since she gets double points for flights as A-list preferred, do all of those points count towards companion pass? Wondering if only half the points she earns would count towards companion even though southwest gives here 2x points.

    Reply
  14. Joe

    Recently heard there was a December 1st email from Southwest sent to those Rapid Reward members who are “close” to qualifying for A-List. The email contained a link that allows people to buy points that will qualify as Tier points toward the A-List. I confirmed this with two people at Southwest Customer Service today. They didn’t have the link but their reference materials say that anyone who has the link is welcome to share it with anyone else. CAN YOU SENT ME THE LINK? WHERE CAN I GET THE LINK?

    Reply
  15. Yue

    I just became a list, if I purchase ticket with southwest gift card, do I get 6 points (or 7.5 points for A list) for what I spend?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Yue – Yes the type of airfare will determine your earning, not whether you use cash, a credit card, or gift card.

      Reply
  16. Jason

    I do not understand how A list points are accumulated. I have over $380,000 in purchases this year, but only 37,000 A list points. I fly a fair amount, but use miles to purchase tickets.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jason – A list points are usually accumulated by buying tickets with cash. When you pay with miles you don’t earn points toward A list.

      Reply
  17. Kyle

    I am close to qualifying for the companion pass and have the Southwest card. My statement ends on the 12th of each month, which is when the points hit my points account. How are the points treated for the purchases made between December 13 and December 31? Do they count towards the statement date year or the year of the actual purchases?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kyle – It’s statement date year. So either change your statement date to be later in the month, or get it done by the 12th of December. “Each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date.”

      Reply
  18. Jen

    I am not going to qualify for A-List status. I need about 16K more points. Is there a way I can qualify before the year is up?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jen – Tough situation without some more flying. You could earn 15k via the Southwest Premier credit card, but would need to knock out $100k in card spending to get it done!

      $1,600 in ‘anytime’ fares would get you there as well.

      Reply
    2. Tonnea Williams

      Southwest.com/buytqp

      this link is good till midnight 12/31/16 , you can purchase TQP for AList and AList Prerferred

      Reply
  19. G Shea

    My husband and I have a Chase Premier card and have never heard about any A List status. How do we go about obtaining more information? We usually earn on average at least a minimum of 50,000 points per year?

    Maybe I am uncertain of what the true qualifications are.

    Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @G Shea – Earning 50k points on the Southwest card (which we’re guessing is from $50k in spending) would only get you 7,500 ‘tier points’ toward A List status. ‘Tier points’ are earned at a rate of 1,500 per $10,000 in spending, but there’s a cap of 15,000 tier points you can earn each year from credit card spending. You’d have to earn the rest via flying.

      Reply
  20. jayne Weiss

    Currently on a list and calculating out my a list points for 2017. I have 2 round trips scheduled but will still be short 500 points so trying to figure out how I could earn these.
    I have a nonstop to Chicago booked in next week, would I earn more points if I made this a connecting flight?
    Do flights taken over Christmas count for a list points?
    I know credit card points are only counted first week of every month after speaking with southwest
    Any other suggestions

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @jayne – Yes flights taken over Christmas will still count toward your A list status for the calendar year so that will work fine. A connecting flight wouldn’t earn you more points – it would count as a single one-way flight. If you upgrade to a Business Select fare you’ll earn twice the qualifying points of a Wanna Get Away fare.

      Reply
  21. Sally

    Who monitors the A-list status? My manager was A-listed and recently booked and was put in B status. Is it a self monitor thing or would it come up automatically when booking?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sally – The group numbers for A-list members get assigned 36 hours prior to departure. So if the flight was booked less than 36 hours before the departure time, it’s possible all the A group numbers were already taken. Another possibility is it was just a very A-list heavy flight.

      Reply
  22. Heather

    Hi,
    So I am planning on signing up for both the personal and business cards to get 100k to get as close as possible to the companion pass. My question is….Does the clock start ticking for your companion pass once you sign up for the credit cards and get the sign up bonus OR when you reach 110k? I am trying to do it so I can trying to get as close to two years as possible for the companion pass.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Heather – It’s based on when you first start earning points.

      So if you want to maximize you would get cards around October and put the last $ for the sign on bonus requirements in January, just before the 3 month deadline.

      The bad situation would be if you met one sign on bonus requirement this year, and then met the 2nd one next year, leaving you with 50k stranded on both sides.

      Reply
  23. John

    One of the benefits of A-List status is a 25% Earning Bonus. Do these bonus miles count toward Companion Pass status?

    Reply
  24. Marla

    Will this count towards 3 segments if I book as three separate tix
    sna to phoenix -am day 1
    phoenix to vegas-pm day 1
    vegas to sna-pm day 2

    I have a business trip and i want to maximize segments

    Reply
  25. Dan

    Does a “paid flight” which counts towards your tier status have to be paid in full? What if I use a $50 gift card towards a flight, and then the balance I pay for on a credit card. Would that flight count towards my A-list status for the year? Thanks!

    Reply
  26. gdonahue

    Quick question: Does the multiplier you achieve after A-List status (25%) also count toward your TQP?

    Thanks

    Reply
  27. Hassib

    On the flip side, do other programs often match Southwest status? Specifically if you’ve qualified for companion pass.

    Reply

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