Jake and I didn’t pay for a domestic flight in 2017 – and we don’t plan to pay for one in 2018 either. It didn’t take any magic, extra spending, or questionable ethics. It only took understanding how a system works and using it to our advantage.
Southwest Airlines has always been one of our favorites – great customer service, no bag fees, and plenty of flights out of Kansas City. But the deal got even sweeter when we realized just how easy it was to get the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is a pass that allows a “companion” of your designation to fly with you for free on any flight you book. Your companion is also allowed to be changed up to 3 times per year. Once you’ve earned the Companion Pass, you get to keep it for the rest of the calendar year in which you earned it, plus the entire next calendar year.
The traditional way of obtaining a Companion Pass is to take 100 flights with Southwest in a year – so in reality only very frequent and loyal business travelers can earn it in this way. However, the other way to earn the pass is to accumulate 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in one calendar year.
Southwest offers two personal credit cards through Chase – the Southwest Plus and the Southwest Premier. The only real difference between the two cards is the annual fee – $79 for the Plus and $99 for the Premier. For people who don’t typically use annual fee credit cards, I could see how this might scare you off. However, hear me out. This hack could literally save you THOUSANDS of dollars. What’s a couple hundred in the grand scheme of things? You can always cancel the cards after the first year if you don’t want to continue paying the annual fees (Side note: This does not ruin your credit the way you most people think it does).
The Plus and Premier typically have a 40,000 point bonus after hitting a certain spend limit in the first 3 months of using the card. However, a few times a year the bonus is increased to either 50,000 or 60,000 points. What does this mean? It means at a 60,000 point bonus on two cards, you would automatically earn a Companion Pass after meeting the spend limit. At 50,000 point bonuses, you would only have to spend an additional $6,000 to earn the pass. When we are going after credit card rewards, we typically put all of our spending for the month on the credit cards and then pay them off as soon as the statements come out. This is really pretty easy spending to hit for most people. We earned the CP at the 50k bonus point level and still were able to obtain it for 20 months.
This year, we’ve flown to Austin, New York (x2), and Dallas on the CP. Next year, we already have trips planned for Orlando, Chicago, and Hawaii. All FOR FREE. You see, the great thing about the CP is that you don’t have to “use” up your 110,000 points to get it. You still have all of those points to your name. If you book flights a couple of months in advance, 110,000 points will get you a whole lot of free flights (along with your free companion).
This is the best deal out there in travel, period. If you would like more information or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below and I will answer as soon as possible.
As a disclaimer, credit card hacking and travel rewards ONLY work if you pay off your balance in full every month. If you are the type of person who carries balances month to month, I would not suggest jumping into this just yet.
To get started, here is a link to apply for the Southwest Plus Card:
And the Premier:
Right now, both cards have 40k point bonuses. However, if you follow the referral links above, you will get the 50k bonus offer on both cards. This is as good a time as ever to utilize this amazing travel hack!
Happy flying (hopefully for free with the CP!)