New Southwest card bonus can get you 90% of the way to companion pass

For those who prefer Southwest Airlines and their Chase line-up of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, exciting updates and enhanced benefits are here. Additional benefits are slated to provide an elevated travel experience along with in-flight savings—all with no increase to annual fees.

One of the most notable benefits is the chance for new consumer cardholders to earn up to 100,000 Rapid Reward points (50,000 after spending $2,000 in the first three months, plus an additional 50,000 if you spend $12,000 in the first 12 months) through Dec. 21, 2021.

If you’ve always wanted a Companion Pass, a coveted perk that lets you bring a friend or family member on any Southwest flight for just the cost of taxes and fees, this sign-up offer could help you earn the 125,000-point requirement for the pass much quicker.

In addition to the boosted sign-up bonus, the Southwest cards are also debuting changes to their rewards structures, including new bonus categories for local transit, commuting purchases, rideshares, plus select streaming, internet, phone and cable services. Of course, as travel credit cards, rewards are still in place for Southwest purchases, too.

What is new on the Southwest card lineup?

Not only can you earn up to 100,000 bonus points (50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 50,000 more bonus points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months), there’s also more in terms of rewards and perks:

  • Receive 6,000 anniversary points each year- depending on which card you have
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest purchases- depending on which card you have
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services
  • Two EarlyBird Check-In each year
  • All points count toward Companion Pass

Changes to Southwest business cards include rewards for hotel and car partners, social media and search engine advertising, upgraded boardings per year when available, up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and more.

As you can see, this rewards structure is much friendlier to those who aren’t yet traveling as much but still makes room for the ones who have plans to travel in the near future or a little beyond.

How can I earn the 100,000-point sign-up bonus?

If you apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Priority or Premier card, you’ll be able to earn 50,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open, plus 50,000 points after spending $12,000 total on purchases in the first 12 months of opening your account.

How can I earn the Southwest Companion Pass?

Right now, you have to either take 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a year to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

When you factor in up to 100,000 points from the cards’ sign-up bonus, plus the $12,000 in purchases you have to spend to earn them (worth at least 12,000 points, or more if you spend in eligible bonus categories), the introductory offer alone can get you 90 percent of the way toward this coveted perk.

You can also take advantage of referrals or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program to quickly earn the rest of the points you need.

Once you hit the 125,000-point threshold, you’ll earn a Companion pass for the remainder of the year in which you earned it plus the entire following year—allowing you to bring a friend or family member for just the cost of taxes on every Southwest flight you take. That can add up to a whole lot of savings.

Our take

Southwest’s co-branded cards are following other issuers now and catering to a diverging set of spending habits by offering rewards structures for those staying put and those still traveling.

The good news is that whichever group you fall into, you’ve now got more ways to earn Rapid Rewards points that you can redeem for Southwest purchases—whether they’re for now or later.