A lot of people know me as a fan of airline/hotel loyalty programs, and some have even gone so far as nicknaming me “Points”. And while it’s easy to tease someone with this sort of obsessive hobby, I estimate we’ve done roughly $15,000 in travel completely free over the past 2.5 years because of this hobby, with another $5,000 or so in freebies already booked for later this year.
I bring this up, not to brag, but to alert my readers (do I have readers? No idea…) that one of the absolute best deals in travel is within easy grasp again: the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.
The Companion Pass works like this: you earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year, and then they give you the pass. From there, you name a companion and for the entire rest of that calendar year, plus the entire NEXT calendar year, your companion can get a free flight anytime you have a ticket on Southwest – and it doesn’t even matter if your ticket is paid or points, either. Even better, those 110,000 points you earned to get the Companion Pass stay in your account, meaning you have a good bank of points ready to redeem.
In 2012, we earned the companion pass in November of that year mainly through my work travel – meaning that we were able to use it through the rest of 2012 and all of 2013. In that time, we managed to score 15 round-trip flights through use of our Southwest points and the Companion Pass. That’s pretty unbeatable.
Of course, what I didn’t know then that I know now is that there’s an easier way. You can earn 94% of your way to the Companion Pass quite easily by applying for 2 of the Southwest credit cards that are currently offering 50,000 points bonuses and doing the requisite spending ($2,000 in three months for each card). Then, you’re left with just needing to earn 6,000 points (either through spending on the cards, flying Southwest, the Southwest shopping portal, or transferring points from another program) in order to get 2-for-1 travel for essentially two years.
We’re working towards getting the pass this way, and already have several trips planned for the rest of this year and next (Nashville, Maine, Seattle, Cancun!) that we hope to do as a result. The bottom line is: if you have any desire to do domestic travel around the US, especially if you live near a Southwest hub, this is the absolute best deal in air/hotel loyalty points going. Enjoy!