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Rewards Programs

Southwest increases point requirement for earning Companion Pass

The coveted perk just got a little harder to reach

Summary

Starting this year, you’ll need to earn a few more points to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. On the bright side, the points you earn no longer expire.

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The Southwest Companion Pass is no doubt one of the most popular travel perks among rewards enthusiasts. For earning a certain number of points or flying enough in a year, qualifying Southwest Rapid Rewards members can designate a companion to fly for free (except taxes and fees) on any Southwest flight they purchase – whether with cash or points.

It’s easy to see how this perk can save you hundreds of dollars in a year, especially if you frequently travel with friends or family. The best part – once you earn the Companion Pass, you get to keep it for the rest of the year you earned it plus the full next year. That means you can get almost two years of free flights for your friend by earning it early.

See related: How to get the Southwest Companion Pass

Here’s the bad news – Southwest just announced a big change to Companion Pass requirements. Now, it just got a little harder to earn the coveted benefit.

Previous requirementsNew requirements (effective Jan. 1, 2020)
110,000 qualifying points or 100 one-way qualifying flights125,000 qualifying points or 100 one-way qualifying flights

Fortunately, you can still earn the companion pass by taking 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest.

Other changes to Southwest Rapid Rewards

Last year, Southwest also announced a more positive change to its Rapid Rewards program – points no longer expire. Previously, if your account was inactive (nothing spent or earned) for 24 months, you’d lose your balance. The shift away from expiration dates went into effect on Oct. 17, 2019.

Southwest seems to be following in the footsteps of other airline loyalty programs with this shift. Just a few months before the announcement, United announced a similar change to its MileagePlus program. Delta and JetBlue also have miles that don’t expire.

See related: United miles no longer expire from inactivity

For more casual flyers, this policy offers a new level of flexibility. You don’t need to feel pressured to book a Southwest flight or spend money you usually wouldn’t just to save a point balance.

Is the Companion Pass still worth it?

While the Southwest Companion Pass will be a little harder to earn in 2020, it still offers incredible potential value and is within reach for many spenders. Any one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, for example, can get you a big chunk of the qualifying points you need.

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