Best places to travel using Southwest's Companion Pass sign-up offer
An unforgettable 2x1 getaway to Cabo, Belize, Aruba or Punta Cana is within reach by leveraging Southwest's current promotion ? here's how
Travel expert who writes the "Have Cards, Will Travel" column for CreditCards.com
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The Southwest Companion Pass has long been one of the best values in reward travel, and it has never been easier to get than right now.
Why? Because the coveted perk is now included in the sign-up bonus on the Southwest Rapids Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.
You can’t beat bringing along a friend for free anywhere you fly, but to really get value from this benefit you’ll want to understand where the Southwest Companion Pass can actually take you.
How to leverage Southwest's Companion Pass
While Southwest has routes across 40 states to get you and your plus-one anywhere domestically, the real value of the Companion Pass comes from leveraging the further-afield sweet spots on their route map.
Southwest flies to 13 of what I’d consider to be aspirational destinations worth putting on your Companion Pass bucket list.
You’ll also want to remember that the “buy one get one” deal works with both points and paid tickets.
If you’re good at earning and redeeming Rapid Rewards points, essentially two people get to fly for just a handful of miles plus the out-of-pocket cost of the taxes!
5 international destinations to visit using the Southwest Companion Pass
Here are five amazing low-cost international trips you and a friend could take this year by leveraging your companion pass with Rapid Rewards points:
1. Experience all-inclusive Mexico
Southwest flies to three of Mexico’s most popular all-inclusive destinations. With Cabo, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta on the route map, Mexico is a convenient getaway no matter in which part of the states your travel originates.
- A three-day getaway from my home in Portland to Cabo (SJC) currently prices out for as low as 16,380 Rapid Rewards points.
- This includes a return trip on Southwest’s low cost “Wanna Get Away” fares, plus $90.15 in international taxes.
- The points cover both tickets, and you’ll pay the taxes for each person.
Pair your flights with points from any of the IHG Rewards credit cards to stay at one of the all-inclusive Holiday Inn resort properties, or use World of Hyatt points for a visit to the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos or adults-only Hyatt Zilhara properties.
2. Check off a new Caribbean country
Nip away for a quick trip to a Caribbean island. Discover the beaches of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, rent a motorbike to zip around Nassau in the Bahamas, or go for a snorkel in the Montego Bay Marine Park in Jamaica.
From the East Coast, the Caribbean is a cheap and easy destination to hit with Rapid Rewards points.
- A roundtrip flight from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to Montego Bay Jamaica (MBJ) for a weekend goes as low as 6,240 points and $136 international taxes.
- Points you’ve earned in the newly renamed Marriott Bonvoy program from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card or the upcoming Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card are great to use in the Caribbean.
- Redeem them for seaside accommodation at The Westin Punta Cana for the Dominican, or any of the five different Autograph Collection by Marriott Properties at the Atlantis in Nassau.
3. Go Dutch on two flights to Aruba
Still considered the Caribbean but nearly all the way to South America, the island of Aruba is a great Dutch colonial getaway and outdoor wonderland for watersports, hiking and hanging out on a beach with pink flamingos.
- Flights from Chicago, Midway to Aruba (AUA) go as low as 14,508 points and $90.43/per person in taxes.
- Compare that to the “Wanna Get Away” cash rate of $514 for the same flight, or $1028 for two, and you’ll easily see why the Companion Pass can make international travel for two a steal even at Southwest’s already low prices.
Accommodation with points is easy to come by in Aruba since the island hosts over a million visitors a year.
- One good rewards option is the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba Beach.
- At 40,000 points per night, you can use points you’ve earned on your IHG Rewards credit card or redeem your free anniversary night certificate.
- This might even be a time when using your credit card to buy points may be a good value.
Tip: Learn when you should pay for your hotel with cash and when with points before heading out to your international getaways. You don't want to make any of these seven hotel rewards mistakes.
4. Live the ‘pura vida’ in Costa Rica
With flights to both San Jose and Liberia, Southwest has both coasts of Costa Rica covered. Take your pick of volcanos, cloud forests, rainforests, or hit la playa for surf and sun.
- Traveling from the Southwest hub at Dallas, Love Field (DAL), the best fares on flights to Liberia (LIR) go as low as 20,280 points round trip with taxes of $81.10.
- If you had to pay for these flights, they would cost $392 per person.
There’s plenty of options to use your reward points to cover your accommodation in Costa Rica.
- The Andaz Papagayo is a favorite on the Pacific side at just 15,000 World of Hyatt Points a night.
- Remember that you can stay three free nights on the World of Hyatt Credit Card sign-up bonus – including minimum spend – alone.
5. Dive into the Blue Hole of Belize
If you’re into the underwater world, Belize is probably already on your bucket list.
Southwest flies into Belize City which is just a quick and cheap (90 minutes/$18) water taxi to Ambergris Caye, your base to dive or snorkel the famous Blue Hole or the Belize Great Barrier Reef.
- “Want to Get Away” points rates for March are currently 17,628 points with taxes of $83.43 per person ($167 for two).
- Compare this with the cheapest available cash rate on the same day of $361 per person or ($722 for two) – you’ll be saving $555 with the Companion Pass.
Mahogany Bay Resort and Beach Club, a part of the Hilton Curio Collection, is a great place to sleep on Ambergris Caye. Use what you’ve racked up with 6x bonus points at U.S. supermarkets on your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card.
More travel options with Southwest Companion Pass
Want to squeeze even more travel value from the Companion Pass? Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman, and Havana are all options to add to your list too.
Plus, Southwest is in the process of adding flights to four Hawaiian Islands as soon as they get FAA approval.
While the Companion Pass is always available as a reward for any Southwest flyer who earns 110,000 Rapid Rewards points per year, you need to hurry if you want the fast track option. The Companion Pass sign-up bonus offer on Southwest cards ends Feb 11.
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