I have completed the requirements to get the Southwest 2014 Companion Pass!
I have received my companion pass card in the mail and have already booked several trips including New York, NY, New Orleans, LA, and Jacksonville, FL. The value I have gotten from it so far is great as I have spent an average of 12000-15,000 points per round trip for 2 travelers. That is an astounding value! I still have 80,000 points left after my bookings!
I have also learned that you can use Southwest gift cards to pay the taxes and fees on the award tickets for both you and the companion. This is a great use of getting a gift card from an office supply store using a 5x earning card and then redeem for flights. I have done exactly this so I am maximizing my earning and burning at the same time. A $50 gift card will cover 20 one way domestic award ticket fees on Southwest ($2.50 per person one way).
Now that Southwest has international destinations and is adding more I will look at using the companion pass for that too! The value goes up more when you can go to places like Cancun, Montego Bay, and Aruba using the companion pass!
Here is the final summary of what I did to earn the Southwest Companion pass in under 3 months:
The following activity has posted to my account and has counted for Companion Pass qualification (110,000++):
- Transfered 50,000 Hyatt points to Southwest for 30,000 RR points
- Transfered 30,000 Choice Hotels Points to Southwest for 9,000 RR points
- Rapid Rewards Dining totaling 2,685 RR points year to date
- Rapid Rewards Shopping totaling 626 RR points year to date
- Hotel Stays totaling 2,400 RR points year to date
- 500 RR points transferred from E-miles surveys
- 600 RR points from an Alamo car rental
- 50,000 Southwest Visa sign up bonus
- 14,189 in Southwest Visa credit card spending
I have had some activity that did not count which I backed out of my calculations:
- Rapid Rewards Dining bonuses: 10 points per restaurant review — does not count for Companion Pass
- Rapid Rewards Dining bonuses: earning thresholds (earn 1,000 RR, get 300 RR) — does not count for Companion Pass
- Choice Hotels 300 RR bonus promo points offer above the normal 600 RR per stay credit — does not count for Companion Pass
The majority of the spending done on my Southwest Visa has been Vanilla Reload cards at C.V.S. and Amzn Payments. I also put all other no-bonus-category spend on the card as it comes up. I have used work-sponsored travel to help complete the companion pass and save me a few reload card fees as well.
Earning the pass was a good bit of work but the payoff is also big. I now have the rest of 2014 and all of 2015 to fly with my companion using buy one get one free with points and cash fares. It will take a while to deplete all of my points and I can always top off with Ultimate Rewards as needed. This will cover the majority of my domestic personal travels for sure!