Cashing In Q&A columns

Limited-time Southwest sign-up bonus, long-lasting perks

Sign-up bonuses were raised on Chase Southwest cards, putting a valuable perk within reach


Southwest upped its threshold for the Companion Pass and sign-up bonuses for three Southwest cards have followed suit. The new sign-up bonuses make it easier to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass – but they won’t be available for long.

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Dear Cashing In,

A friend of mine keeps talking about the Southwest Companion Pass she has and tells me I should get one. But I don’t know if I should. It seems like a lot of work. Is it worth it? – Jaime

Dear Jaime,

The beginning of the year is the best time to look into Southwest Airlines credit cards because one of the best perks in all of credit card rewards is the Southwest Companion Pass.

The pass allows you to bring a guest with you on any Southwest flight – from an award ticket or a paid ticket – for only the cost of the airport security fee.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts. 

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See related: Earn up to 75,000 bonus points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards

Blink and you’ll miss it

Once you receive the pass, it is valid for the rest of the year plus the following year. That means the earlier in the year you receive the pass, the longer you are enabled to use it.

If you travel a lot (or want to travel a lot), it can be worth hundreds of dollars. You can imagine the possibilities here – especially since Southwest started flying to Hawaii in 2019.

While Southwest recently raised the requirements for earning the pass – you now need 125,000 miles in one year, up from the 110,000 you needed in previous years – it has also raised the sign-up bonuses on its cards. This makes qualifying for the Companion Pass within reach.

Sign-up bonuses count toward the number of miles you need, so signing up for Southwest credit cards can be a simple way to earn the pass. But if you’re interested, you might want to move quickly because these spikes in bonuses don’t usually last for long.

Here are your options if you’re thinking of snatching up a higher bonus:

Annual feeSign-up bonusPerks
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card$69
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first three months
  • Additional 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in first six months
  • 3,000 bonus points each account anniversary
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card$99
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first three months
  • Additional 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in first six months
  • 6,000 bonus points each cardmember anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card$149
  • 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first three months
  • Additional 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in first six months
  • 7,500 points each card anniversary
  • A $75 annual travel credit
  • Four upgraded boardings per year
  • 20% off in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi

How the costs add up

Let’s total up how this might work for you financially. The current sign-up bonuses on the Chase Southwest credit cards give you up to 75,000 Southwest miles when you spend $5,000 or more in the first six months.

However, since you can’t apply for two consumer cards, you can apply for one consumer and one business credit card. So, if you applied for Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card ($99 annual fee) and the Rapid Rewards Plus Card ($69 annual fee), for instance, you’d have 135,000 points from sign-up bonuses (after spending a total $8,000 in the first six months; the Premier Business card offers 60,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months). That’s enough to qualify you for the Companion Pass – and you’d still have 10,000 points left over.

But what would your costs be? If we continue with the aforementioned combination, you’re looking at $168 in annual fees, plus $8,000 in credit card spending (that you would probably have done anyway), with a payout of at least 135,000 points – plus almost two years of somebody flying with you for close to free. That’s a good deal and one that you should strongly consider.

There are other ways to get to the 125,000-mile threshold, too. Referral bonuses give you the opportunity to earn 10,000 miles per referral and, of course, ordinary credit card spending and taking Southwest flights works, too.

This deal might not be for everyone: If you don’t plan to travel much, have existing credit card debt or you don’t like the idea of having too many credit cards, then sit this one out.

But there’s a lot of value to be wrung from the Southwest Companion Pass, and if you’re going to utilize those sign-up bonuses, you should do it now – before they’re gone.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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