Southwest Airlines Credit Cards and the Companion Pass

A few days ago I posted that the Southwest Airlines credit card is the best credit card out there for domestic travel. Given that Southwest will soon be operating out of Air Tran markets (namely PWM), I have spent a little more time focusing on the Southwest program and the best use of Southwest points. I have learned that you can apply for both the personal version of the Southwest credit card and the business version to get a combined total of 100,000 points without stepping on a Southwest flight.

 Now you may be wondering how you can qualify for a business credit card if you do not have a business. Keep in mind that if you sell anything (have a rental property, sell old baby items on Ebay, etc.) you qualify for a business credit card. The application requires an EIN number (SSN number for businesses) but if you are a sole proprietor, you simply fill in your social security number.

100,000 points (worth $1,667 in travel) on Southwest is a great benefit in and of itself, but it gets better. You qualify for a companion pass good for free travel for a companion on every Southwest flight you take until December 31, 2013 with 110,000 points accrued this year. So, if you accrue an additional 10,000 points, your companion can fly with you for free, even on flights where you use your Southwest points. This is a lot of free travel for two people!

The best way to accrue the additional 10,000 points is through transferring points from a hotel program to Southwest. If you do not have hotel points, you can buy 30,000 Marriott points for $375 and then transfer them to your Southwest account. This will achieve the additional 10,000 points you need for the companion pass. The 10,000 Southwest points you buy convert to $167 worth of travel on Southwest so really the final expense for buying the Companion Pass only comes to $208. If you have any plans to fly on Southwest before December 31, 2013, instead of paying the $208 for airfare, you can spend that on the additional points and get the companion pass which will cover your planned travel. You could also sign up for the Marriott credit card which will get you 50,000 Marriott points (there have been confirmations that the 70,000 point link still works). However, both the Southwest credit card and the Marriott credit card are issued by Chase and you can only sign up for one Chase card at a time (you should leave at least 91 days between applications).

Other ways to acquire the additional 10,000 points are to:

  1. Put $10,000 in spending on the Southwest credit card
  2. Teleflora offers 1,000 Southwest points per $29.99 of flowers (delivery costs do not receive points)
  3. Use your Southwest frequent flyer number on car rentals
  4. Transfer hotel points from Choice, Wyndham, Hyatt, and Best Western programs (and Marriott) to Southwest
  5. Or simply fly enough on Southwest to earn the 10,000 points the old fashion way

As you can see, pursuing the companion pass is a great idea for those who plan on significant domestic travel through December 31, 2013, especially since Southwest will soon be operating flights out of Air Tran markets (like PWM, Caribbean, and Mexican destinations). And if you are a family of four, you can multiply this strategy by two and get free travel for all four of you!

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