So what does this mean? A Southwest companion pass allows you to designate a companion that can always fly with you for free, whether you paid cash for a ticket or you used miles/points. Since my husband and I both have a companion pass for this year, it means that two of our kids will fly for free on Southwest. And that's huge for a family of 5!
How did I get this companion pass? I applied for 2 Chase Southwest Rapid Reward Premier credit cards (a business and a personal card). Through our regular spending, I met the minimum spending on each card to earn 50,000 bonus miles (100,000 total). We kept charging our monthly bills on these cards (and paying off the balances each month) until my miles totaled 110,000 (the threshold for the companion pass). Each credit card has a $99 annual fee, so technically the companion pass and the 110,000 miles cost me $198. But I plan on using the pass and miles for 4 to 5 trips before the end of 2016, so I think the cost is more than worth it.
|A few days at this beach in Florida|
This summer, we are flying to Colorado and Florida on two separate trips. We only need to use our miles for 3 tickets since 2 of our kids now travel free. Our Colorado trip only cost us 18,345 miles for 5 round-trip tickets because of our companion passes. To put that in perspective, the same trip on American Airlines miles would cost us 125,000 miles.
We plan to fly 2 or 3 domestic trips on Southwest in 2016, but we haven't yet solidified our plans.
If you think that Southwest miles and a companion pass could be useful to your family, make sure you wait to apply for the credit card when the bonus is at 50,000 miles. Currently, the bonus is 25,000 miles, but it fluctuates throughout the year. I also recommend cancelling the card after the first year to avoid paying another year of the annual fee. Flyertalk reports that you can apply for the same card again 24 months after receiving the bonus miles.