A Trip Every Month for Two Years with the Southwest Companion Pass

I’ll just go ahead and give you my plans.  I used to be a little coy about all this incredible travel I’m able to do because I’ve spent the time to understand the frequent flyer programs and how to acquire points for them.  More often than not, people just adopt a “well that’s good for him” attitude, but my secret desire is for them to join in the fun.

Last week, I was incredibly pleased to see that the Chase Southwest Plus, Premier, and Business cards with 50k point bonuses have returned. “Pleased” because 50k is, like, double the 25k they were offering… and “incredibly” because it means getting the coveted Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is going to be so easy for me.

Southwest offers a unique bonus to frequent flyers who either fly 100 segments in a calendar year, or earn 110,000 Rapid Reward points in a calendar year.  They bestow a celestial Companion Pass… enabling the individual to invite a companion along for any flight they book with cash or points for the remainder of that year and the entirety of the next year. The companion pays nothing, save a $5 per segment fee.

Rapid RewardsThere’s obviously no way I could possibly fly 100 segments in the first month of the year, and earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards from flights only is also not an option.

How to get 100,000 Rapid Rewards

What is an option though, is for me to apply for the Southwest Premier Card in October of this year. I’ll need to pay the $99 annual fee, and then I’ll have to complete the minimum spending requirement of $2000 in December of this year, so that my 50k bonus points hit in my Rapid Rewards account in January of 2014.

I’ll also apply for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card, pay the $99 annual fee, and plan my spending so that I complete the $2000 in December. That way I’ll have 100k Rapid Rewards in the first month of 2014.

How to get 10,000 more Rapid Rewards

I’ll need 10k more in order to get the companion pass.  I could get those a few different ways – every $1 I spend on either card will give me a point, and I have some business expenses, but $10k in a month is hard for my budget alone.

It would be perfect if I could transfer some Ultimate Rewards, but doing that doesn’t give me companion pass qualifying points.

I could book some flights on SW and earn the points the old-fashioned way, but unless I pay big money for refundable anytime fares, it doesn’t earn me nearly enough.

I could transfer 30k Marriott points to Southwest at a 3:1 ratio and get my 10k, but I hate to use them like that because I’m going to need some free hotel nights for all these trips.

I could earn points through Southwest’s Shopping Portal, but then I’m just buying things I don’t want or need.

None of these options are super easy, but I do have one that’s going to work.  A friend of ours is building a house. They will have tens of thousands of dollars in expenses over the next few months. In January, I’ll charge two of his invoices to my Southwest card, each for over $5000. Voila! 110k points and the companion pass is on its way!

Planning 23 Months of Vacations with the Southwest Companion Pass

Now this is where it starts to get exciting. All of this could change at any moment, especially if or when Airtran flights get taken into the Southwest system and we are able to fly to Mexico.  I’d really like to sneak in a trip to Cabo San Lucas.

But just for the fun of it, I decided to layout a potential itinerary of the kind of trips I’d like to make over the next two years.  I’m sure some would get put off, too, because of those dang “responsibilities,” but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

Here’s what I came up with:

Month Depart Destination Activity/WW Post Estimated Points
Feb 2014 (SLC) Orlando (MCO) Orlando Area 15000
Mar 2014 (SLC) Burbank (BUR) Los Angeles 10000
Apr 2014 (SLC) Virginia Beach (ORF) Jefferson Tour 15000
May 2014 (SLC) New York (EWN) New York City 15000
Jun 2014 (SLC) Branson (BKG) Branson shows 12000
Jul 2014 (SLC) Providence (PVD) Rhode Island Area 15000
Aug 2014 (SLC) Seattle (SEA) Alaskan Cruise 9000
Sep 2014 (SLC) Charlotte (CLT) Carolinas 15000
Oct 2014 (SLC) Manchester NH (MHT) New England Fall Colors 15000
Nov 2014 (SLC) Los Angeles (LAX) Positioning for Thailand flight 9000
Dec 2014 (SLC) Phoenix (PHX) Dirtbiking with my brother 10000
Jan 2015 (SLC) San Antonio (SAT) San Antonio and Alamo 12000
Feb 2015 (SLC) Las Vegas (LAS) Las Vegas shows 9000
Mar 2015 (SLC) Nashville (BNA) Great Smoky Mountains 15000
Apr 2015 (SLC) Boston (BOS) Positioning for Ireland flight 18000
May 2015 (SLC) Philadelphia (PHL) American History Tour 15000
Jun 2015 (SLC) Rochester (NY) Niagara USA 15000
Jul 2015 (SLC) San Francisco (SFO) San Francisco Tour 9000
Aug 2015 (SLC) Grand Rapids (GRR) Michigan 12000
Sep 2015 (SLC) Baltimore (BWI) Washington DC 15000
Oct 2015 (SLC) Boston (BOS) New England Tour 18000
Nov 2015 (SLC) Tampa (TPA) Tampa Area 15000
Dec 2015 (SLC) Denver (DEN) Ski Trip 9000

Yes, epic, isn’t it?  You see that I don’t want all this domestic travel to hamstring my international travel plans, so on a couple of occasions I planned a domestic flight to make an international flight “cheaper” -pointswise.  My estimates come from the lowest available redemption rates I can find on those routes, and I won’t always be able to find them that good.  Assuming I did every one of these, I’d need to have a total of 302,000 Rapid Rewards points.

I already have about 2,000, and by the time I complete the Companion Pass requirements, I’ll have 110,000 more.  I have more than 100k Ultimate Rewards points that I can transfer to Southwest, so I’ll just need to figure out how to get 90k more Southwest points and I’ll have 2 RT tickets a month for 23 months for nothing more than the $5 per segment fee. (And the $198 in annual fees… but really, we are talking about $6000 in flights here!)

I have the option of changing my companion 3 times during the life of the pass, so I’m imagining having my wife as companion for most of the time, but also taking some trips with my brother, my dad, or a friend.

I know how surreal this all sounds, but the reality is that it’s no more difficult than following a simple recipe.  You just apply for the cards, meet the requirements, and start traveling!

Where would you go if you had a companion pass for 23 months?  Is there someplace I’m missing?

Disclaimer: Sheldon and I don’t get any commission if you apply for the Southwest Cards with our links.  We promote them because our interest is in showing you what incredible things you can do when you master the art of frequent flyer mile accumulation through responsible use of your credit purchases.  We’re after having you as a loyal visitor and sharing your successes with us. That’s how we get paid.

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18 Responses to A Trip Every Month for Two Years with the Southwest Companion Pass

  1. Ken says:

    I’ve already had the personal Plus card, what do you think are the odds of me getting a personal Premier and one of the Biz cards in October? I already have 6 personal and 1 biz Chase cards and I’m prepared to close some cards I don’t use anymore or don’t want to pay the AF for.

  2. S Chiu says:

    Thanks for the great article! My husband and I have just acquired a few different credit cards and we’re working on wracking up miles, so it’s nice to read about people who are already having success using this same method.

    Also, I noticed all of the flights in your itinerary originate in SLC. We live right in the same area:)

  3. Ken says:

    Now that Southwest is devaluing their redemptions it’ll cost more than it currently does. better book all your flights before the March 2014 deval.

    • bradleyjai says:

      Ugh, Good point, Ken. I got that notice the same day this went live. Bummer. It’s just a reality. We were interviewed in a Fox News article about mile and point devaluation. It will be more and more important to economize when it comes to using them.

  4. John says:

    Dope. Super dope

  5. Brady W says:

    I think I already know the answer to this question, otherwise you would have mentioned it…my wife already has this card and about 52,500 points. If I get the card and get the 50k bonus (plus the 2k for the minimum spend) can my wife transfer her points to me? That would just leave us about $5000 to spend to reach the 110k…

    • bradleyjai says:

      Brady- There are mixed reports on this. I have read of instances in which Southwest has allowed you to apply and funnel the points to your wife, and read of instances in which they don’t allow it. It’s definitely worth a shot, but one other idea is this: Does your wife have the Premier card or the Plus card? Technically they are two different cards. You could have her apply for the other one and that would get her closer to the 110,000 this year. Thanks for wanderlusting with us! Isn’t it dreamy?

    • Ashley Cook says:

      I e-mailed Southwest with this same question. They responded that transferred points don’t count towards the 110,000 needed for the companion pass. They also claimed that bonus points received do not count.

      • Sheldon says:

        @Ashley-This must either be a mistake or a new development. It wasn’t very long ago that people could count the bonus points toward the companion pass.

        Thanks for the heads up on the transferring. We weren’t sure about that one.

        Good luck on getting it either way. Maybe try another CSR.

      • Ken says:

        Just in case you didn’t know, the number one rule of price mistakes and things of this nature is Do Not Call. If they didn’t know about it before they certainly know about it now. This is one way deals are killed.

        The only transfers that count are ones to a hotel partner and then to Southwest, but you do lose a bunch in the transfers. Credit card signups currently count last I heard, so let’s keep it to ourselves and hopefully it will remain that way 😉

  6. Judd says:

    Not glad to hear about the devalue of points..you should keep that to yourself haha. Is that in reference to all point systems or just SouthWest? Have you applied for both plus and premiere at the same time?Just wondering how that went 🙂

  7. So happy to see you are planning on coming to Seattle and heading to my hometown of Philadelphia. And can I assume you are thinking Thailand next November for the lantern festival? May see you there! 😉

  8. Pingback: Long Weekend in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky | WorldWanderlusting.com

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