No Holy Grail: Chase’s Southwest Companion Pass Offer Proves It (Again!)

by joeheg

Very few topics get the attention afforded to the Southwest Companion Pass. You could spend a lifetime reading all the posts about it that are on the internet. a screenshot of a website

I used to read posts claiming that the Companion Pass offered the ultimate travel savings. With this pass, you can fly on Southwest for half the price, allowing you to take twice as many trips without spending more money. Alternatively, if you have Southwest Rapid Rewards points, you can pay for one ticket with points and receive the other one for free.

I fell for this and decided that I would do whatever I needed to get one of these passes. After six months of trying and some false starts, I finally had the pass and 14 months to use it.

While it did save me some points, I found out that I didn’t save all that much because we didn’t often fly with Southwest, even though I tried to use them for every trip.

My experience with the Southwest Companion Pass is actually one thing that convinced me to start writing Your Mileage May Vary. Although having the Southwest Companion Pass can potentially save you a lot of money, it’s also possible that you may not really save that much. It all depends on how frequently you fly with Southwest. For a moderate traveler, you may be looking at two or three trips per year, assuming that Southwest flies to your destination, with a convenient schedule.

In 2019, Chase did something that was thought to be impossible. They made the Companion Pass a reward for signing up for a Southwest co-brand credit card.

This tells me that Chase and Southwest knew that:

  1. The Companion Pass is a coveted item, and people will jump at the chance to get one.
  2. Most people overestimate how much value they’ll get from the pass.
  3. Chase and Southwest are going to come out ahead by giving a companion pass instead of extra points.

Current Offer For A Companion Pass

Since then Chase and Southwest have run several offers with the Companion Pass as a sign-up bonus for their line of personal co-brand credit cards. In fact, they just launched an offer for 2024:

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If you sign up for one of their cards and spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, you’ll earn 30,000 Rapid Rewards points and a Companion Pass that’s good until 2/28/2025.

Let’s realize that the power Companion Pass users have already locked in their passes for all of 2024 and 2025. In order to be eligible for the Companion Pass sign-up bonus, you must not currently have a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card and cannot have received a Southwest bonus in the last 24 months. Additionally, you must be under the Chase “5/24” rule.

This offer is intended for those who are aware of the Companion Pass but haven’t attempted to obtain one earlier due to the complexity involved. They may not even be aware of what the Companion Pass is. Such people are likely to use it only a few times in 2024, at best. However, for both Chase and Southwest, this promotion generates a lot of publicity for their credit cards. They may break even or even save some money if these new customers don’t use the pass as frequently as they had anticipated by the end of the year.

The Companion Pass offer is good for all three of the Southwest Rapid Rewards personal cards. If you want to sign up for one of the Southwest personal cards, we’d appreciate it if you use our referral link (for which we receive a bonus of Southwest points).

Should You Take Advantage Of This Offer?

Why do people want the Companion Pass so badly that they’re willing to waste a credit card approval to get one? I guess it’s because it has a certain mystique. After all, it’s not easy to get, and you can’t put a price on its value. You hear stories about how people save THOUSANDS of dollars a year with the Companion Pass. While I don’t doubt these stories are true, there are plenty more people out there who did the work to get a companion pass and ended up using it two or three times and saved maybe $400.

I never claimed that the Southwest Companion Pass is the holy grail of the travel universe. Its value depends on your personal travel habits and preferences. Even after getting the pass, you need to consider if flying with Southwest for all your trips is feasible. Will you pay more money for a flight on Southwest just because you’ll get a free companion ticket? How about taking a flight with inconvenient timings or a layover? Are you okay with flying on a less comfortable plane? These are choices you’ll have to make when using your pass, so be prepared

I hope this posting gives you some reason to pause whenever you come across an article proclaiming any “must-have” item. There is no such thing. Examine what is being discussed and see if it aligns with the way you enjoy traveling. If it makes sense, go for it. If not, let it go without any regrets.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian February 12, 2021 - 12:58 pm

Very insightful piece. Thanks for not following the herd and providing some independent perspective. Whether due to contractual obligations or financial considerations, lots of travel bloggers will cheerfully wax poetic about how amazing a credit card is but you don’t see a lot of them advising against getting one. Well done.

patrick February 12, 2021 - 1:47 pm

So your advice is don’t do what you did? 😉

Even if you only fly SWA 2 or 3 times that’s still a considerable savings. And if you get the one that’s good for 2 years there’s even more potential for savings.
Of course, as you said, people need to weigh the value they’d get but it would be hard to go wrong being able to fly 2 for 1 for possible close to 2 years..

Earl B. February 12, 2021 - 2:52 pm

Your point that the Companion Pass isn’t necessarily a great deal for everyone is spot on. But when it DOES work for you, it is amazing. I had the Companion Pass for 2018 after signing up for a SW Chase card, and my wife and I had a wonderful year using it as much as we could. We live in Orange County, California, which gives us ready access to SNA, LAX, SAN, and ONT (Ontario is useless). At that time, our two kids were living in Chicago (MDW) and Milwaukee (MKE). My Mom is in the Sacramento area (SMF), and my Dad near Reno (RNO). All places in Southwest’s network. We used the Pass to visit our kids, visit my parents, and just take some fun weekends (Phoenix, Colorado, New Orleans, Oklahoma, Kansas City, Detroit) seeing the country and checking off the last of the states we needed so that we can say we have visited all 50 states in the USA. The kicker is that by being careful we were able to stretch the 50,000-point welcome bonus to cover many of the flights we took in 2018 so that much of our travel was completely free. It was a great year of travel for us, made possible (or inspired by) the Companion Pass.

We’re now more focused on overseas travel, and our daughter has moved to Boston, which doesn’t have great Southwest service, so the Companion Pass isn’t as desirable for us as it once was. But for the right person at the right time, it is amazing.

ACinCLT February 8, 2024 - 2:05 pm

The downside is you have to fly Southwest. Nothing against them in principle but the lack of assigned seating and people gaming the system w preboards and seat saving is something frankly I prefer not to do. I’m lifetime elite on DL, AA and UA so have plenty of miles for “free” travel. Also I can easily afford any ticket I want so why would I want to subject myself to Southwest. Not to act elites (and I know this comment is) but frankly I view most SW passenger differently than AA, UA or DL passengers. Frankly they are closer to Spirit and Frontier than the 3 legacy carriers with respect to the quality of most of their passengers. No thanks!

David Miller February 8, 2024 - 2:51 pm

Regarding the current offer – anyone who flys Southwest destinations would be a fool NOT to take advantage of this offer. One year of a FREE pass to fly as often as one wishes to any Southwest destination PLUS 30,000 points worth almost $400 – all for $ 69.00 yearly card fee. One can apply for any of the 3 Cards available for this offer – the $69.00 card being the least expensive. This IS a great offer.


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