The Southwest Companion Pass

Update: In January of 2017 we earned our 3rd Southwest Companion Pass. We had been accumulating points at Marriott for several years with hotel stays and a Marriott branded credit card. We also had some American Express points. I transferred the Amex points to SPG and then to Marriott. I finished off with a few Ultimate Rewards points to reach 270,000 Marriott points.

With these points I purchased a vacation package at Marriott. This gave me a week at a Marriott category 5 and under property along with 120,000 Southwest Points which triggers the Companion Pass at Southwest.

In January of 2017, Southwest decided to stop counting these points towards the Companion Pass. After many people complained, Southwest reversed this decision and extended the change date until March of 2017. I got lucky.

I had the points sitting there waiting to go and bought the package soon after the reversal. With the points we booked a hotel in Phoenix for one week during Spring Training. The hotels are inflated during that time of year and the value ended up being $3000.

I travel with my husband several times a month so the pass is a great value for us. The pass is good from Jan 2017-Dec 2018.

Update: In March of 2015 I earned a Southwest Companion Pass (last time Mike earned it-read below) . I did this by applying for two different Southwest credit cards that each earned 50,000 points.

I then purchased some additional points from Choice Hotels and transferred them to my Southwest Account to hit the required 110,000 points.

Mike will be able to fly free with me until December of 2016. (total cost from purchasing hotel points and the yearly fee for the credit cards $69+$79+$200)And I now have 110,000 points to use for my travel. You don't use those points to buy the pass-they are yours to use on travel.

(disclaimer-rules change all the time with these airline programs-double check before you decide to do this. I'm simply sharing what worked for me.)

I thought the whole airline points thing was a hoax to get you to be more brand loyal. But as of today, my views have changed.

This is the story of how my husband earned a Southwest Companion Pass without flying any flights.(You will see below that he redeemed some of his points for a guys trip to Spring Training!)

One of my friends asked me to share how I did it. We really wanted to travel more but it wasn't in the budget. I started reading some travel hacking blogs and came up with a plan to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to take a designated person with you whether you are redeeming miles or paying for your flight. So both of you can fly free.

There are no restrictions on the flights. There just needs to be an open seat. And it is good for the rest of the year in which you earn it in, plus the following year. Mike earned it in April of 2012 so it is good through December of 2013.

One final disclaimer. If you are tempted to overspend if you have credit cards in your pocket or you are going to be refinancing your home soon, do not apply for credit cards. They will cause a small dip in your credit rating and I don't want to encourage anyone to go into debt.

Here are the credit cards we used. I'm not sure which credit card deals are still available.

1.Southwest Visa-yearly fee is approx $85 but that got us 50,000 points after the first purchase and about $800 in free airfare. Well worth the $85 fee.

2.  Chase Sapphire Card 50,000 points after a spend of $3000 in the first 5 months. No annual fee the first year. We went from spending using an all cash budget to putting everything on the credit card.

important: In order for these points to count toward the Southwest Companion Pass we had to move them to Marriott and then to Southwest. If we moved them straight to Southwest, they would not have counted.

3. Marriott Visa card that is free for the first year. The bonus on this card was 40,000 points, one free night and a $75 credit after the first purchase.

What we already had:
-10,000 Mariott Points from previous vacations
-Some Misc Hyatt points that were about to expire so we transferred them to Southwest
-Some spending on the Southwest Credit Card

Please note-the Southwest Companion Pass requires 110,000 points. I had to transfer somewhere around 110,000 Mariott points to get only 45,000 Southwest points. But for me it was worth it.

So where should we go?
Please share your favorite spots on the West Coast.