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.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals out there for air travel if you frequently travel domestically with another person.
In order to get the pass, you must first earn 110,000 Qualifying Points with Southwest Airlines. The first 104,000 of those points are easy to earn through applying for the Southwest Premier and Plus credit cards during the occasional times they’re both offering 50,000 point bonuses, but earning the last 6,000 points can be a little bit more challenging, especially since many ways of earning bonus points don’t count toward Companion Pass.
Here is a detailed guide on how to earn the first 104,000 points for the Southwest Companion Pass as well as the benefits of having and using the pass.
And here are ways to earn the last 6,000 points without booking flights you aren’t yet planning…
Depending on what other points you have, transferring hotel points to Southwest might be a good option. Different hotel points transfer at different transfer rates to Southwest. If you are transferring all of the points needed for the companion pass, a Marriott Hotel + Air Package presents the best value because Marriott Points are generally considered to be less valuable than Hyatt Points and you can get a hotel stay out of the transfer too.
If you are just needing to transfer the 6,000 points needed to meet the requirement for the pass, none of the options available present great value. At that point, it depends what points and how many of them you have as well as how you typically use them. In general, our first choice would be to transfer Hyatt Points, followed by Marriott and Choice Privileges. Club Carlson is by far the worst redemption option, unless you were never going to use the points anyway or it’s your only option.
When you’re shopping online you should always go through a shopping portal when available. A shopping portal will offer you additional points or cash back for shopping you are planning on doing anyway. Different stores through different portals pay out at different rates, but it can be a way to earn an additional mile or more per dollar spent.
RocketMiles is a hotel booking engine that offers some pretty good bonus miles offering depending on the hotel you are looking to book. Be warned: RocketMiles doesn’t always offer the best price, so you should definitely compare to other booking engines and booking directly with the hotel. If the price difference is small, and the miles bonus is large, making a booking with RocketMiles could quickly get you the last 6,000 points you need.
The Southwest Companion Pass is very valuable for domestic travel, and quite easy to get after a couple of credit card signups with a little bit of creativity needed to earn the last 6,000 points needed. There are a lot of ways to earn those 6,000 points depending on your travel needs and spending patterns. How did you earn the 6,000 additional points needed to achieve the Southwest Companion Pass?
You’ll earn 3 points for every dollar you spend, so $1,000 in dining at Rapid Rewards Dining partners will get you 3,000 points.
The dining program offers a new member bonus, and bonuses after you reach thresholds of restaurant reviews, but those do *not* count toward Companion Pass qualification. Only the points you earn form restaurant spending count.
There are thousands of restaurants in the network (almost 500 near Los Angeles alone) so it’s not hard to find one near you.
Any points you earn via your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card count toward Companion Pass. And many retailers like drug stores and grocery stores sell gift cards for a variety of uses. You’ll pay a small fee for some of these cards, so it’s not truly ‘free,’ but buying some for things you plan to purchase in the future or as gifts for friends can be a good way to boost your qualifying points.
You can even buy gift cards for future Southwest travel, and if you use your Rapid Rewards credit card, the points you earn from the purchase will count toward Companion Pass qualification.
Business Select fares cost more than ‘Wanna Get Away’ fares, but the points earning is also at a higher rate of 12 points per dollar spent, double the 6 points per dollar you get on Wanna Get Away fares. This is rarely the most efficient way to earn points, but let’s say the trip you want costs $190 as a Wanna Get Away fare, but the Business Select fare is $310. You’ll earn over 3,500 points from the Business Select fare compared to around 1,100 for the Wanna Get Away fare, netting you 2,400 extra points for $120.
Those points are worth about $30-$40 in reward travel, so you’re definitely not coming out ahead there. But it’s like buying the 2,400 points for about $90, which works out to a not great 3 cents a point, but considering buying points without flying won’t count toward Companion Pass qualification, upgrading to a Business Select fare can be a reasonable way to earn if you’re in a pinch.
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