February 23, 2024

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Want to fly two-for-one until next February? If so, there’s a brand new sign-up offer on all three Southwest Airlines personal credit cards that might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Right now, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card are each offering new card holders a Southwest Companion Pass valid through February 28, 2024, plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months of opening the account. But time is running out — these offers will end soon.

If you’re asking “What’s a Southwest Companion Pass?” we promise it’s not a gimmick. It truly is a no-strings-attached pass that allows a companion to fly with you on Southwest for free (plus taxes and fees) as long as there’s at least one seat left for sale on the plane. The taxes and fees are generally minimal, and you can use the perk an unlimited number of times during the life of the pass.

Plus, since Southwest points are worth about 1.4 cents per point when you redeem them for the airline’s cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares, the 30,000 bonus points you’ll also get with these offers are worth about $420 in travel.

The value of these entire offers depends on how much use you’ll get out of the Companion Pass. If you don’t think you’ll be traveling much in 2023, this probably isn’t the right card offer for you. But if you think you’ll find yourself flying a lot in the next year, then the value could be astronomically high — because the more you fly, the more your companion can also fly for free.

Aside from earning the Companion Pass and bonus points from the sign-up bonuses, these three credit cards also come with many other benefits for Southwest flyers. There are also two business credit cards — the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card and the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card — that come with their own set of perks (though not the current Companion Pass sign-up bonus). So if you expect to fly the airline regularly in the coming year, you may find some of them to be extremely useful.

With all of Southwest’s credit cards, you’ll get bonus points on a yearly basis, starting at your first anniversary (meaning one year from the date you originally get the card) and every year thereafter. These points help significantly offset the cost of each card’s annual fee.

With the Southwest Plus card, you’ll receive 3,000 bonus points at your anniversary, while the Southwest Premier and Southwest Premier Business cards come with 6,000 bonus points. The Southwest Priority card offers 7,500 bonus points at each account anniversary, while the Southwest Performance Business card will increase your balance the most with 9,000 bonus points each year.

With Southwest points worth approximately 1.4 cents per point when redeemed for “Wanna Get Away” fares, these 3,000, 6,000, 7,500 and 9,000 anniversary bonus points are worth $42, $84, $105 and $126 in value, respectively.

A benefit of just the Southwest Priority card is a $75 travel credit each account year (meaning you can utilize the first year’s credit any time you want after receiving the card). This travel credit can be used for essentially any Southwest purchases, including flights, taxes or even fees when using points, so long as you use your Southwest Priority card to pay for it.

Get a $75 annual travel credit with the Southwest Priority card.

Southwest has a different seat assignment policy than most other airlines — there are no assigned seats. Instead, the carrier has open seating, where you pick your preferred seat upon boarding the plane. Your boarding position — which you get when you check in for your flight — determines when you board. All passengers receive a boarding position between A1 and C60, with A1 being first to board and C60 being last.

With the Southwest Priority and Southwest Performance Business cards specifically, you get four upgraded boarding positions per year to use on Southwest flights. This means you can purchase an A1 through 15 boarding position at the gate (if available), giving you the opportunity to board the plane before most other passengers, and you’ll receive a statement credit for the amount charged.

Purchasing an upgraded boarding position normally costs between $30 and $50, so this benefit is worth $120 to $200 per year.

If you purchase the least expensive Southwest fare type, known as “Wanna Get Away” fares, you’ll need to check yourself in for your flight starting 24 hours in advance, and your check-in time will determine your boarding position. However, if you don’t want to have to worry about checking yourself in as close to 24 hours ahead as possible, Southwest allows you to purchase an add-on option called EarlyBird Check-In that automatically checks you in for your flight before the traditional 24-hour mark.

The Southwest PlusSouthwest Premier and Southwest Premier Business cards all come with two EarlyBird Check-In credits per year. EarlyBird Check-In typically costs between $15 and $25 one-way per passenger, so this benefit is worth $30 to $50 per year if you use it.

25% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi

All five Southwest credit cards offer 25% back on your inflight purchases, including Wi-Fi.

All five Southwest credit cards offer 25% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi purchases. While this isn’t a huge savings, it could save you a few bucks over time.

However, if you’re a small-business owner who flies on Southwest often and typically pays for Wi-Fi on your flights, you might want to consider the Southwest Performance Business card, since you can get complimentary Wi-Fi on essentially every Southwest flight you take with that card — up to 365 statement credits per year.

Get up to 365 statement credits for in-flight Wi-Fi with the Southwest Performance Business card.

Another perk available on the Southwest PremierSouthwest PrioritySouthwest Premier Business and Southwest Performance Business cards is the ability to earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend on a card. Since there’s no cap, you can theoretically earn A-List and A-List Preferred status solely by spending money on your Southwest credit card.

However, it’d be a lot of spending to make it all the way to the top without flying at all. Just to earn A-List status would require spending well over $200,000 on your credit card. That’s almost certainly not worth it unless you’re making those kind of purchases anyway, but it’s still a useful perk if you combine it with tier-qualifying points earned by doing some flying on Southwest as well.

On both the Southwest Premier Business and Southwest Performance Business cards, you can transfer Southwest points to another person and be reimbursed for up to $500 in fees for doing so each year. This can easily help you consolidate points between family members or gift Southwest points to business associates.

Southwest point transfers typically cost $5 for every 500 points transferred, so getting up to $500 in reimbursements each year means you can effectively transfer up to 50,000 points per year for free.

Like many other popular travel credit cards, the Southwest Performance Business card will reimburse you for either your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, up to $100 once every four years.

Just pay for your application using your Southwest Performance Business card, and if you’re approved, you’ll be on your way to receiving expedited access at TSA security checkpoints in the US and quicker reentry into the country with Global Entry after traveling abroad.

Even if you already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, you can use this benefit for a friend or family member who doesn’t have it. Just use your card to pay for their application fee — the names don’t have to match.

The best part of these offers is that all three Southwest personal credit cards (though not the business cards) come with a Southwest Companion Pass. Traditionally, you have to earn 135,000 tier-qualifying points in a calendar year to get the pass, but with these offers, you can bypass that requirement and earn the pass simply by getting approved for any of the three Southwest personal credit cards and meeting the $4,000 spending requirement in the first three months.

While the terms of the offer state that it can take up to eight weeks for the sign-up bonus to post to your Southwest account, in our experience, Southwest sign-up bonuses — including Companion Passes earned using credit card points — have typically appeared in your Southwest account within 2-5 days after the close of the credit card statement in which you meet the minimum spending requirement. So the goal is to meet the minimum spend as quickly as possible to earn the pass for as long as possible.

Now, when you earn the pass using the traditional method, it doesn’t expire until December 31 of the following calendar year. But the Companion Pass earned with these promotional offers expires on February 28, 2024, so it’s a much shorter amount of time — nearly a year, depending on when you apply and complete the spending requirement.

However, if you want to earn the pass for longer, you can still do it the traditional way, and these bonus offers can help with that too. Since the airline counts all Southwest credit card points toward the Companion Pass, the 30,000 points you earn as part of these sign-up offers will also count toward the 135,000 tier-qualifying points needed in this calendar year for a pass that lasts until the end of 2024.

Additionally, Southwest will credit your account with an additional 10,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points if you were a Southwest card holder on the first business day of the year. So if you already had a Southwest credit card on January 3, you should have 10,000 Companion Pass points already in your account. Keep in mind that if you’re just applying for your first Southwest card now, those 10,000 points won’t count towards your 2023 activity, as they won’t be awarded until January 2024, and all Companion Pass points must be earned within the same calendar year.

But even with just the 30,000 bonus points from these offers, you’d only need to earn 105,000 more points in the rest of 2023 to get a full-length pass. And there are many ways to earn those remaining Companion Pass points, such as using the Southwest shopping portal, crediting your hotel and car rentals to Southwest, ongoing usage of your Southwest credit card and simply flying Southwest on paid fares.

However, one of the easiest ways is to couple one of the personal Southwest credit cards with a Southwest business credit card. Although Southwest now limits you to having just one personal credit card at a time, there are no restrictions on having both a personal and business card.

Combining a personal Southwest credit card with a business one could earn you a Southwest Companion Pass.

Since you can currently earn 80,000 bonus points with the Southwest Performance Business card after spending $5,000 on the card within the first three months, if you add those 80,000 points to the 30,000 bonus points earned from any one of the three personal cards, you’ll end up with 110,000 bonus points. While this won’t immediately be enough to reach the Companion Pass threshold, you’ll only be 25,000 points shy.

And remember, points earned from meeting the minimum spend requirement also count — which is 9,000 total between the two cards — leaving you needing only 16,000 more points throughout the calendar year.

Although using this method requires paying an annual fee on two cards — and the Performance Business card is the most expensive Southwest credit card at $199 a year — the card comes with upgraded boardings, in-flight Wi-Fi credits, opportunity to earn A-List status and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit.

You also can apply for the personal card now and hold off on applying for the business card in the future (assuming the current offer or a similar one exists by then), so you don’t have to hit the minimum spending requirements on two cards at the same time.

Apply now for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card.

With three different Southwest personal credit cards on the table, it’s important to know which card is best for your individual needs. If your main goal is to increase your Southwest Rapid Rewards points balance and earn points toward the Southwest Companion Pass, then the Southwest Plus card is best. This card carries the lowest annual fee at just $69 per year but offers the same sign-up bonus.

Click here to earn the Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points with the Southwest Plus card.

The benefits of the Southwest Premier card are similar to those of the Southwest Plus card, but you’re paying a higher annual fee at $99. Although you’ll earn more bonus points on your card anniversaries, you don’t earn them until you complete your first year as a card holder and pay your second annual fee.

But you’ll earn 3 points per dollar on Southwest purchases with the Southwest Premier versus 2 points that you earn with the Southwest Plus. And the Southwest Premier also now allows you to earn more tier-qualifying points toward A-List status.

Click here to earn the Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points with the Southwest Premier card.

But if you fly Southwest a decent amount throughout the year and you want a card rich in benefits, then the Southwest Priority card is your best option. Although it has a significantly higher fee at $149, the benefits alone are easily worth it if you can use them.

The Southwest Priority card’s $75 travel credit brings the effective cost of the card down to just $74. On top of that, you’ll receive four upgraded boardings per year and a 25% statement credit on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi. If you can maximize those benefits, you can easily be ahead in your first year alone. And starting with your second year, you’ll always be ahead once you add in the 7,500 bonus points at each card anniversary, which are worth $105 in Southwest flights.

Click here to earn the Companion Pass plus 30,000 bonus points with the Southwest Priority card.

Finally, if you’re looking to combine two cards to extend the life on the pass to almost a full two years, and you have a small business, you can get the Southwest Premier Business card and only pay a $99 annual fee, or get the Southwest Performance Business card with all its perks and a higher $199 annual fee. The more expensive business card probably only makes sense if you’ll be able to take advantage of all its Southwest benefits, like the upgraded boarding positions, Wi-Fi statement credits and point transfer fee credit.

The current sign-up offers on all three Southwest personal credit cards can earn you the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.

Our general rule of thumb is if you’re planning on flying at least twice on Southwest in the next year, then yes, this is a great time to apply for one of the cards. Generally, one of the biggest perks of applying for a Southwest credit card is to get one step closer to earning the Companion Pass, and with this particular offer, you get it as soon as you meet the spending requirement. No hoops to jump through or extra points to earn.

However, if travel is truly not in your future in 2023, then we suggest holding off on applying for a Southwest credit card. While you’ll still earn 30,000 bonus points with these offers, the bigger draw is the Companion Pass, and it has an early 2024 expiration date tied to it.

That said, if you’re hoping to take to the skies on a regular basis over the next year and want to bring a friend or family member along for the ride, apply for a personal Southwest credit card today, and grab a Southwest Companion Pass that you can use all the way through next February.

But act quickly if you’re interested in these offers — they’re ending soon.

For personal cards:
Learn more and apply now for the Southwest Plus card.
Learn more and apply now for the Southwest Premier card.
Learn more and apply now for the Southwest Priority card.

For business cards:
Learn more and apply now for the Southwest Premier Business card.
Learn more and apply now for the Southwest Performance Business card.

Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards available right now.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.


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