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Every two years (around the end of the year), my wife and I have the same credit card routine – one of us applies for two Southwest credit cards, typically a personal card and a business card. Who opens these cards alternates each time. The first time, I opened the cards. Then two years later, my wife opened them – and so on, and so on. This year, it’s my turn to open the two Southwest credit cards.
The reason I follow this routine is to get the Southwest Companion Pass, which – I think – is one of the best travel perks around for domestic travel. By opening these two cards and earning the signup bonuses, I’m able to earn enough points to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, which then allows me to designate a companion to fly with me for free for at least a year, but potentially as long as two years.
I recently went through the same credit card routine, opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, which, at the time I applied for it in December 2023, was offering 75,000 Southwest points. I’ll follow that up later by opening the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card, which should give me an additional 80,000 Southwest points once I open it. Put it all together, and that’ll be enough to get me the Southwest Companion Pass, continuing our household’s streak of having the Companion Pass.
In this post, I want to go over the newest credit card I opened, how I decided on it, and how (and most importantly, when) I will meet the minimum spend requirement on it.
How I Get The Southwest Companion Pass
I’ve gone into more detail about what the Southwest Companion Pass is and how to earn it in a previous post. I highly recommend reading it if you’d like to get a bit more detail about it. You can find the post here: Southwest Companion Pass – How To Fly For Free For Two Years.
The short of it is to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you need to earn 135,000 Southwest points in one calendar year. If you do this, you’ll get the Companion Pass for the remainder of the year in which you earned the pass, plus the next calendar year. If you’re strategic, you can earn the pass early in the year, potentially giving you the Southwest Companion Pass for close to two years.
This is exactly how I do it. I always try to time things out so I earn my Southwest points sometime around January or February. By doing that, I’m able to maximize how long I have my Companion Pass.
One quick note, while you need 135,000 Southwest points to earn the Companion Pass, Southwest credit card holders have that requirement reduced by 10,000 points. Since I always earn the Companion Pass by getting my points via the signup bonuses, in effect, it means I need 125,000 Southwest points to earn my Companion Pass.
Which Cards Do I Get?
The decision I always have to make is which Southwest credit cards to get. Southwest offers five credit cards – three personal cards and two business cards. To get my bonus, I always opt to get one personal card and one business card.
The five cards all vary slightly, with different benefits and annual fees. Here’s a table I put together with the different annual fees for each card:
On the personal card side, you can see the annual fees vary from $69 to $99 to $149. The difference between these cards is what benefits they offer. For our purposes, the thing you should know is that the more expensive cards offer more points each anniversary year, while the most expensive one also offers upgraded boardings and a Southwest travel credit. These benefits don’t matter to me, so I always opt for the cheapest card (i.e. the card_name). If the benefits do matter to you, then getting the more expensive cards can make more sense, but that’ll be based on what you value and care about.
Anyway, this time around, I opened the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, which will get me much of the way to my Southwest Companion Pass. I don’t value the benefits of the card because I just want to get the points for the Companion Pass, so getting the cheapest card I can get makes sense for my situation.
The Application Process
Applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card was an easy process. Before getting started, you always want to make sure you have a Southwest account already set up. That way, you can enter your Southwest account number into your application and make sure that your points are credited to your account.
To apply, I used my blog’s affiliate links so I could get myself a small commission. I then filled out the application. Since it’s a personal card, it’ll count toward my 5/24 status. After getting this card, I’m at 3/24, so I’m still okay for a while.
After submitting my application, I was approved instantly with an $8,000 credit limit.
How (And When) I Meet The Minimum Spend Requirements
Meeting the minimum spend requirement won’t be an issue for me. Indeed, I could pay my children’s daycare bill with it and hit the minimum spend in one charge. I also have some taxes I need to pay, so that’s another easy way for me to hit the minimum spend requirement quickly.
The important thing is when I’ll hit my minimum spend requirement. I want my signup bonus to post after January 1st so that my points be credited for 2024 (not 2023). That way, I’ll be able to earn the companion pass for the remainder of 2024 and all of 2025.
To ensure I never mess this up, I always make it so that I don’t hit the minimum spend requirement until after January 1st. To be technical, the points don’t post until after your first statement closes, so you could theoretically hit the minimum spend requirement in December, but then see your points post in January depending on when your statement close date is. However, I don’t like to take this risk, so I always make sure that I don’t hit the spending requirement until the New Year.
Every two years, my decision on which card to open next is easy since I know I want to renew my Southwest Companion Pass. With one kid over 2 years old, I’m now at a stage in life where I might have to consider getting two Southwest Companion Passes eventually. But for now, we’ve been getting one.
This time around, I’m going to put my son as my companion since my wife has a lot of Southwest travel credits in her name that she can use to book her flights. Since my son is now 3 years old, he has to have his own ticket to fly. My wife will then book her flights using her travel credits or the points she has in her account.
Anyway, that’s a look into another credit card I’ve opened this year. I’m in a really heavy spending stage of my life right now, but at least I can get something back for all that spending with all of these credit cards.
If you’re interested in the Southwest Companion Pass, right now is the perfect time to grab it. Go for a personal card right now. Then you can grab a business credit card later. For more information, check out my post that goes into the Companion Pass in much more detail: Southwest Companion Pass – How To Fly For Free For Two Years.