Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.
In my previous post, I showed you how it’s possible to earn the Southwest Companion Pass with only two credit card sign-ups. Next, I’ll show you how Taryn and I plan to utilize our recently earned Companion Pass in 2018.
We were in Chiang Mai, Thailand during Our Around-the-World Trip when we found out we officially earned the Companion Pass. This is the mandatory victory dance for all new Companion Pass holders.
Using the Companion Pass
Just earning the Companion Pass is already hard to beat. Who can complain about buy one, get one free airfare? But what’s really baller is that those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points that went toward earning the Companion Pass can also be redeemed for flights on Southwest Airlines using the Companion Pass. And better yet, the companion can ALSO fly for (almost) free on Southwest Airlines redemption flights. That’s like having 220,000 Rapid Rewards points, assuming your companion joins you on each flight. And since its (almost) free, why not bring your companion?
Generally speaking, the Southwest Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program itself isn’t super valuable. All award redemptions are based solely on the actual dollar cost of the ticket, so as the price (in dollars) for a flight increases, so does the cost for the award flight. Easy to understand, but there aren’t any super advantageous redemption options since award costs are tied to the actual dollar cost. However, this also means that there is always award availability. That’s a far cry from trying to use American Airlines miles. 🙄
About 78 Rapid Rewards points equate to one dollar towards airfare, which pales in comparison to other types of frequent flyer miles (How We Made It Happen). This fixed rate means that the typical sign-up bonus of 50,000 points is worth about $641. However, with 110,00 Rapid Rewards points (x2) from earning the Companion Pass, our “sign up bonuses” essentially amounted to $2,800 towards Southwest Airlines flights. And this is before we purchased a single flight with our buy one, get one free Companion Pass.
Another great aspect of using Rapid Rewards points is that you can cancel your reward flight with no change fees. We love to plan, so using points allows us to preemptively book reward flights that we might want to take. In case those dates don’t pan out, we receive a refund of the Rapid Rewards points we redeemed. The only sticking point is that you’ll receive a $5.60 “airline credit” for Southwest Airlines (because of the taxes), which you can immediately apply towards your next Southwest flight. So in a way, assuming flights are cheaper when you book further out (and that’s generally how Southwest Airlines operates), the earlier you book potential flights using Rapids Rewards and Companion Pass, the more potential (basically) free flights you can redeem.
Drawbacks of the Companion Pass
We are incredibly happy to have the companion pass through 2019, so these are minor complaints. But still worth “pointing” out. Sorry… lame points pun.
- Neither redemption flights using Rapid Rewards points nor flights taken by the companion count towards a flyer’s frequent flyer status. Unfortunately, all of our award flights don’t get us any closer to Southwest’s A-List status, which would give us a better boarding position for all of our Southwest flights. This means we’ll still need to check-in 24 hours prior to departure to secure the best boarding position. *sigh*
- You can only go where Southwest Airlines flies. This seems obvious, but in many cases, the award redemptions on airline partners are the best value for the points. Southwest doesn’t have any airline partners, so you’re limited to its current network of flights. It does include a few destinations in the Caribbean and they’ve hinted at expanding to Hawaii, but don’t expect the Companion Pass to fly you across the Atlantic.
- The Southwest Airlines experience is perfectly fine… but it’s no Emirates business class. #firstworldproblems, right?
Our Companion Pass Travel Schedule
Taryn and I have a goal to visit all 30 Major League Baseball ballparks together. We’ve gone to 15 so far, and we figured the Companion Pass provides a great opportunity to knock out a few more. Considering we just took three weeks off from work for our around the world trip, it’ll also be advantageous to take multiple weekend trips across the country rather than an extended vacation. Southwest Airlines has a hub at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), so traveling on nonstop flights to a variety of cities is super easy for us with the Companion Pass.
- Baltimore to/from Los Angeles: 27,186 Rapid Rewards Points
- Baltimore to Kansas City: 6,342 Rapid Rewards points
- St. Louis to Baltimore: 8,552 Rapid Rewards points
- Baltimore to/from Atlanta: 16,969 Rapid Rewards points
- Baltimore to/from Minneapolis: 18,176 Rapid Rewards points
- Baltimore to/from Detroit: 13,234 Rapid Rewards points
- Baltimore to/from Detroit: 22,211 Rapid Rewards points
Grand total: 112,670 Rapid Reward points and $134.40
Total roundtrips: 6
Total value of flights: $2,889
Again, this is before we even purchase a flight! Hopefully we’ll sprinkle in a few more weekend trips this summer.
And keep in mind… this is only through October 2018, and we have the Companion Pass through December 2019. SO MUCH MORE POTENTIAL TRAVEL. After this summer’s travel, we’ll have only nine MLB stadiums left to visit, and something tells me we’ll plan a few more trips for next season. ✈️⚾️
You can get the Southwest companion pass for free if you avail the Chase co-branded credit cards below.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
New to points? Check out Points for Beginners.
Need credit card or award booking assistance? Sign up for our travel concierge.
PointsPanda Deal of the Week!
Looking for the best flight deals? Each week we'll send you updates with the best deals on flights and hotels both using points and cash.
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.