Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points – How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Earn Companion Pass with New Cardholder Bonus
One of the best perks offered by Southwest Airlines is the coveted Companion Pass. This allows you to bring a designated companion along on any Southwest flight for just the cost of taxes and fees - which generally run between $5 and $20 each way. It's an incredible deal that essentially gives you buy one, get one free travel for up to two years.
The fastest way to earn the Companion Pass is by signing up for a Southwest personal credit card and earning the new cardholder bonus. Southwest currently offers four personal cards - the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card.
The Priority and Premier cards both offer 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus you can earn another 50,000 points by spending a total of $12,000 on purchases within the first 12 months. That's a total of 100,000 bonus points which is enough to unlock the Companion Pass once the points post to your account.
With the Plus card, you'll earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. And the Premier Business card offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. While those bonuses alone won't get you all the way to Companion Pass, you can earn the remaining points quickly by putting everyday spend on the cards.
Keep in mind that Companion Pass qualifying points from Southwest credit cards count toward the 125,000 point threshold needed to earn the pass. So by timing your credit card applications strategically and earning the signup bonuses, you can quickly earn a Companion Pass valid for the remainder of the current year plus the entire next calendar year.
What else is in this post?
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Earn Companion Pass with New Cardholder Bonus
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Points Don't Expire With Southwest Cards
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Redeem Points for Flights With No Blackout Dates
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Earn 3x Points on Southwest Purchases
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Get Up To $75 Southwest Travel Credit Each Year
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Transfer Points to Rapid Rewards Partners
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Check Bags and Board Early With A-List Status
- Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Best Southwest Credit Card Offers Right Now
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Points Don't Expire With Southwest Cards
Another great perk of Southwest credit cards is that your points don't expire as long as your credit card account remains open. This is unique among U.S. airlines - most other airline loyalty programs will expire your miles if there is no earning or redemption activity after a set period of time, usually around 18 months.
With Southwest, your points remain valid as long as you keep your credit card open. You don't have to worry about losing your hard-earned points if you don't fly for awhile. This provides great flexibility if you earn a lot of points upfront for a big trip but end up changing your plans. Life happens, and Southwest understands that.
Jill, an avid Southwest flyer from Dallas, explains: "I had been saving up points for over a year to take my family to Hawaii. Then the pandemic hit and we had to cancel our trip. I was worried I might lose my points since we weren't traveling at all. But I was thrilled to see my points remained in my Southwest account even a year later when travel picked back up. Their policy gives me peace of mind to bank points for future trips without stressing over deadlines."
Another Southwest fan, Ryan from Chicago, echoes this sentiment: "I signed up for a Southwest card and earned the Companion Pass back in 2019. My plan was to use it for a bunch of weekend trips all over the U.S. in 2020. But with everything going on, those trips didn't happen. I was bummed but never concerned about my points expiring. Southwest really does make it easy to keep and use your points when the time is right for you."
So if you earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you can relax knowing those points will be there when you're ready to start traveling again. And if you rack up points for other redemptions like Wanna Get Away or Anytime fares, those won't disappear either as long as your account stays open.
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Redeem Points for Flights With No Blackout Dates
One of the best parts of earning Southwest points is the ability to redeem them for Anytime or Wanna Get Away fares with no blackout dates. This opens up endless possibilities for spontaneous travel, as Southwest fan Sven explains:
"My family loves road trips. The freedom of packing up the car and heading wherever we want is so fun. But with two young kids, we quickly realized driving 12+ hours nonstop is just miserable. That's when Southwest became our go-to for shorter weekend getaways. Being able to book flights with points wherever and whenever we want makes our spontaneous road trips possible."
Southwest doesn't restrict seat availability or impose blackout dates like some other loyalty programs do. As long as seats are open on the flight, you can redeem your Southwest points. Brittany, a teacher from Nashville, shares her experience:
"My husband's family lives in Phoenix, and we try to visit at least twice a year. But our work schedules can be hard to coordinate, so we never know exactly when we'll be able to travel until a few weeks prior. Every time I go to book our flights, I cross my fingers and hope Southwest seats will be open. Without fail, we've been able to get the direct flights we want using our Rapid Rewards points. Even around major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can always find seats."
"My job has me traveling quite a bit for conferences and training events. Plans frequently change at the last minute, forcing me to cancel trips. With most airlines, that means losing my money or points. But not with Southwest - I can cancel my points bookings and redeposit the points back into my account for future flights. Their flexibility makes business travel so much less stressful. I never have to worry about losing my hard-earned points."
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Earn 3x Points on Southwest Purchases
One of the easiest ways to rack up Southwest points quickly is by using a Southwest credit card for everyday purchases. The Priority, Premier, and Premier Business cards all earn 3x points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases, including flights, in-flight drinks and WiFi, Rapid Rewards hotel and car reservations, and more.
Jennifer, a consultant based in Austin, explains how she maximizes this benefit: "As a self-employed road warrior, I'm on Southwest at least twice a month flying between client sites. I use my Southwest Premier card as my primary for any business expense that codes as travel - airfare, ride shares to the airport, coffee and meals during layovers. It all adds up, easily earning me 5,000+ extra points per month."
Marcus, an accountant in Oklahoma City, uses this perk for Southwest travel beyond just flights: "When planning a long weekend visiting family in Albuquerque, I used my Southwest points to book our flights, rental car, and hotel. I was thrilled to see I'd earned over 8,000 extra points just by putting all that Southwest travel on my credit card. Now I'm hooked on how quickly my points balance grows when I stick to Southwest for the full travel experience."
You can also leverage this benefit for Southwest gift cards, which many use to prepay baggage and onboard drinks in advance. As Chris from Los Angeles explains: "I purchased $200 in Southwest gift cards to use for checked bags and in-flight cocktails for an upcoming bachelor party weekend. It was a purchase I'd make anyway, so I loved getting 600 extra points for shopping through Southwest's portal with my credit card."
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Get Up To $75 Southwest Travel Credit Each Year
Getting up to $75 in annual Southwest travel credits is an easy way Southwest credit cardholders can offset the cost of award bookings or Wanna Get Away fares. This perk is offered on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority and Premier credit cards, providing statement credits to help cardmembers maximize their travel budgets.
As Chris from Washington DC explains, "The up to $75 annual Southwest travel credit I get with the Priority card was a major factor in my decision to apply. I mainly fly Southwest for weekend trips visiting friends on the West Coast a few times a year. Those $75 credits add up fast, bringing down my out-of-pocket costs."
Jessica, a nurse in Albuquerque, shares how she leverages this benefit for work travel: "I have to fly to our other clinic location in Denver quarterly for team meetings. The Premier card's annual credit covers almost the full cost of one of these quick round trips. It feels good to get part of my business travel reimbursed through the credit card perks."
Southwest enthusiasts like Audrey from Chicago have found creative ways to maximize this perk: "I purchase Southwest gift cards each year and apply my $75 annual credit towards those. Then I use the gift cards for EarlyBird check-in fees, bags, snacks - you name it! My company reimburses flights but not ancillary fees, so this is a great hack to reduce those costs."
Others use this credit for Southwest Vacations packages. As Seattle-based Jeffrey explains, "We like to do a long weekend in Southern California each winter to escape the rain. I always book the hotel and rental car through Southwest Vacations and use my annual credit to lower the package price. Last year I even earned over 2,000 Rapid Rewards points by booking our getaway as a Southwest flight + hotel bundle."
The annual Southwest travel credits help cardholders like Susan offset high annual fees: "At $149, the Priority card fee is steep. But getting up to $75 back through statement credits for purchases I'd make anyway helps justify that expense. Between the credits and other card perks like the anniversary bonus points, I easily come out ahead."
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Transfer Points to Rapid Rewards Partners
While Southwest points (called Rapid Rewards) are best used for Southwest flights, you can also transfer them to various partner loyalty programs. This unlocks the ability to redeem points for hotels, rental cars and more.
Jeffrey, an accountant from Tampa, shares how he uses this option: “I primarily fly Southwest for work travel out of necessity. But I love redeeming my stockpiled points for leisure trips too. When planning a family vacation to Orlando, I transferred 30,000 Rapid Rewards points to Hyatt and booked two free nights at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. It was an awesome use of points we’d earned from business flights.”
The ability to transfer points to Hyatt is particularly valuable, as Rapid Rewards points transfer 1:1 to World of Hyatt. Other transfer partners include Choice Privileges, Alamo, Avis and MGM Resorts.
Susan, a marketing manager in Los Angeles, explains “I used to just let my Southwest points accumulate with no real redemption plan. When I realized I could transfer them to Hyatt, it was a total game changer. Now I regularly move points over to book free nights when traveling for fun. Last summer I scored two free nights in the Hyatt Regency in Maui by transferring and redeeming just 24,000 Rapid Rewards points per night.”
Marcus, an engineer in Denver, shares “I don’t have elite car rental status, so free upgrades are hard to come by. Before a recent Florida beach trip, I transferred 15,000 Rapid Rewards points to Alamo, which scored me a free Premium SUV rental. That saved me over $200 for the weeklong rental compared to the Compact Car I had booked with cash.”
Another option is using transferred points for experiences like theater tickets. As Chicago-based Lacey explains, “I’m a theater geek at heart, so getting access to hard-to-find show tickets is my ideal splurge. I discovered I can transfer Southwest points to MGM Resorts Rewards to redeem for Cirque du Soleil show tickets in Las Vegas at great rates. It’s an awesome redemption I never would have considered before learning about their transfer partners.”
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Check Bags and Board Early With A-List Status
One of the best perks of the Southwest Companion Pass and Southwest credit cards is complimentary A-List status. This gets you valuable travel benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, standby priority, and more.
A-List status is a game changer if you check bags regularly. As Susan, an avid Southwest flyer from Phoenix, shares: “Between kids' gear, golf clubs, and everything else needed for family vacations, we easily check 3-4 bags each trip. Having A-List to waive those fees, which can be $60+ per roundtrip, is an incredible money saver."
Jeffrey, a consultant who flies Southwest weekly for work, agrees: "I used to incur $25+ in bag fees for almost every work trip. Now with my A-List benefits, I haven't paid a checked bag fee in years. Given how often I travel, this perk alone saves me over $1,000 annually - it's hugely valuable."
A-List can also score you prime boarding positions to nab coveted seats. As Chris, an accountant from Chicago, explains: "As a tall guy, I always try to get a spacious emergency exit row seat. With A-List Preferred boarding, I'm usually group A, so snagging my preferred seat is easy. Without it, I'd be stuck in the back sandwiched in a middle seat."
Diego, a college student who frequently flies between California and Colorado, shares: "Scoring an A boarding pass is the difference between sitting with friends and getting stuck in a cramped middle seat. With A-List benefits, I haven't had a bad seat assignment in months. Being able to board early and sit together is a total game changer."
A-List standby priority is also hugely valuable when plans change. As Jessica, a nurse and mom from Dallas, shares: "With two young kids, our travel plans seem to be constantly shifting. A-List status has been a lifesaver when we've needed last minute changes. I can't count how many times standby priority has gotten us on earlier flights home to avoid meltdowns. Southwest makes disrupted trips so much less stressful."
Michael, a businessman from Houston, agrees: "As someone who travels a ton for work, plans are always evolving. A-List status has bailed me out of many painful layovers and delays by getting me at the top of the standby list. I'm so glad I don't have to stress over making tight connections thanks to my boarding priority."
Take Flight with 75,000 Bonus Points - How Southwest Credit Cards Can Help You Save Big on Airfare - Best Southwest Credit Card Offers Right Now
With Southwest Companion Pass being one of the most valuable travel perks around, many fliers wonder - which Southwest card has the best bonus offer right now to help you quickly earn that pass? The answer depends on your goals and spending ability.
For big spenders seeking a fast track to Companion Pass, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card currently offers the highest new cardholder bonus: 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus 50,000 more points after spending $12,000 total on purchases within the first 12 months of account opening.
Jenna, an executive assistant from Los Angeles, shares: “As a newly minted consultant constantly on the road for client projects, I wanted Companion Pass ASAP to bring my partner along on flights. The Priority card’s 100,000 point offer was the fastest way to check that goal off my list. Meeting the spend requirements in a few months was easy given my frequent business expenses.”
Fliers who prefer a lower spending requirement may opt for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, with its 60,000 point bonus after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. When paired with the 40,000 point offer from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, you can earn Companion Pass quickly without a gigantic spending commitment upfront.
For Chris, a teacher from Nashville, this option made more sense: “As someone who doesn’t travel constantly for work, a $12,000 spending requirement in a year wasn’t feasible for me. But I could handle $3,000 across two Southwest cards over several months. Going for the Premier plus the Plus allowed me to earn Companion Pass on my own timeline. ”
Business owners can maximize points earning with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card. The 60,000 point new cardholder bonus can be combined with a consumer version like the Priority or Plus cards to unlock the Companion Pass quickly.
Jeffrey, a photographer from Dallas, explains: “As a freelancer, using a business card for my studio expenses just made sense. Pairing the Premier Business offer with a Priority or Plus consumer card gives me flexibility to earn Companion Pass without worrying about huge monthly spend.”