How to earn Free Companion on Southwest Airlines.
Fly round trip for $11.20

Welcome to an interactive guide on how to earn cheap flights on Southwest Airlines. Below are the steps you need to take to join in on the fun. Be sure to visit the FAQ (link on the menu). It contains a lot of the details that will help you understand the process. If you have any questions click "Contact" on the menu and submit your questions. Hope to see you somewhere while on a cheap vacation. Visit the travel log if you want to see all of the vacations we have taken with points and free companion.

There are a lot of details to how this all works. It will require a little reading and a lot of planning. You need to be ready to do this which could take a few months or even a year of planning. If you are at the point in your life where you want to travel and you are okay with spending some money to travel this program is for you. If you are few years away from traveling you should approach this differently. Click here to read about it.

The mission is to earn 110,000 points in 1 calendar year. Okay, stop panicking! I know a 110,000 sounds like a lot but it's within reach if you are serious about earning it. The bad news is in April of 2018 Southwest made some changes that makes earning Free Companion a little tougher. You use to be able to sign up for 2 personal cards and get bonus points on each card. Southwest now made changes that you can only earn bonus points via the credit cards once every 24 months. This change makes it little tougher to earn the Free Companion but not impossible.

There are 2 ways to earn free companion.

The easier way is to sign up for the Premier Credit Card and earn 40K or 50K bonus points (the amount changes throughout the year). Then sign up for a Southwest Business Credit Card and earn an additional 60K bonus points. Between the 2 bonus points you should be close to earning the 110,000 points to earn free companion. Not everyone has a business. I know a few people who have signed up for a business account that were rejected because they didn't have a "legit" business information - meaning they didn't have a federal ID number. Two of those people called Southwest/Chase and argued they are a start up business and used their Social Security Numbers as the business ID... and it worked.

The second way is to sign up for the same Premier, Plus or Priority Credit Card and earn the 40K or 50K bonus points. From here on out it's going to require a lot of clever planning on your side. Below are the tasks you will have to perform in order to get the 110,000 points.

Important: Be sure to complete this process by Dec 31st of the year you start it. If you can't earn the 110,000 before Dec 31st of the year you start - wait until late December/early January to start the process. If you start late December make sure your billing cycle won't happen until January. View the FAQ for information how long it typically takes to earn free companion.

Important: When signing up for the credit cards only use your name for the cards. From what I understand you can get an additional card for your spouse but don't sign up your spouse under their own account because you can't blend your points together to earn free companion faster. At a later date (like 2 years from when you start) your spouse can sign up and do the process again. More information on this in the FAQ section of this website.

Free Companion: Free companion allows you to select someone to be your free companion. When you book a flight (using your credit card or your points) you can add your free companion to the flight and you only have to pay the federal fees. Currently that's $11.20 per round trip ticket ($5.60 for one-way flights).

Credit Card Requirements: The requirements to get the bonus points changes throughout the year so always come back to this site for to make sure you are getting the latest offer through the links listed below. Usually the requirements will be something like - you need to charge a certain amount on the card over a time period to earn some bonus points. The 2 cards do run different offers. Remember to pay off your cards each month if possible. Carrying a balance is not required to earn the bonus points. Read the steps below to learn more.

Step 1 - First Credit Card: Sign up for the following credit card in early January - like the 2nd of January would be a good date. This card is called the "Premier" card. It does have an annual fee ($99 per year at the time of writing this article). The link below is a special link that offers bonus points. Usually the offer will be to charge at least $2,000 to the card over the next 3 months to earn 50,000 bonus points. Be sure to read the offer after clicking the link because it might be different than what is indicated below. After clicking the link you need to make sure it says "You have been referred". If it doesn't say that please use the contact form and let me know that the link failed.

Let's say you sign up for this card in January. I suggest you sign up Jan 2nd.

Annual Fee: $99
(after the first year you earn 6,000 anniversary points for the annual fee)
You charge $2,000 to the card by March.
You earn 50,000 bonus points.
Plus you get 1 point for every dollar charged.
50,000 bonus points + 2,000 points for what you charged.

You are now at the end of March and you should have at least
52,000 points!

Step 1 is now complete.

There are other cards to choose from. Read the descriptions of each card by clicking the links. Maybe one of these makes more sense for you. Keep in mind the offers change all the time so what's written below are general guidelines.
Plus Credit Card $69 per year annual fee and only 3,000 anniversary points. 40,000 bonus points.
Priority Card Higher annual fee at $149 per year but it has 7,500 anniversary points. It does offer some travel credits. Sometimes they offer 65,000 bonus points.
Business Card $99 yearly fee and 60,000 bonus points. 6,000 anniversary points.

Step 2: Charge the required amount to earn the bonus... but don't stop there. Charge everything you can and pay off the card monthly. Gas, food, household items, hotels, traveling, home improvements, daycare, etc. Basically everything you can charge. You are looking to achieve at least 2,200 per month in charges/points. Remember you are trying to get to 110,000 points before December 31th. You will only get 11 or 12 billing cycles so if you are able to charge 2,200 per month for 11 months you will get 24,200 points plus the 50,000 bonus for a total of 74,200 - yup, you are short by 35,800. Where do you get these points? Clever spending and other programs. The following items will help you earn more points for every dollar you spend. The 2 biggest ones for earning points are online shopping and hotel stays. You can earn massive amounts of points for hotel stays. I strongly suggest you take some weekend get-a-ways to either local destinations or use some points and fly somewhere.


Buying Airline Tickets: By purchasing tickets on with your credit card you can earn anywhere from 6 to 13 times the purchase amount in points.

Rent a Car: By reserving a car via the website you can earn an additional 600 or more points. Plus if you reserve it with a Southwest Credit Card you get the points for the base cost of the rental. There are also some additional cost savings by using your Southwest Credit Card - see the FAQ for more details on renting a car.

Hotels: By reserving a hotel via the website you can earn a massive amount of points. Typically you can earn around 4,000 extra points but I've booked a 3 night stay in Boston and earned 16,000 extra points. This is one of the fastest ways to earn points and from what I've seen, the hotel prices are very competitive with other websites. Give yourself a little weekend get away to a local area and you could earn a lot of additional points for a few hundred dollars. We booked a little get away to Green Bay (about a 2 hour drive from our house) and stayed for 2 nights for about $380 but we earned 6,000 bonus points.

Dining: The points you are earning are part of the "Rapid Rewards" program. They have a dining website. Sign up at the website, register your credit card (it doesn't have to be a Southwest Card) and go eat at the restaurants in the program. Each restaurant has different amounts of points you can earn and sometimes it changes based on the day of the week. They usually have an offer running that if you sign up and spend at least $25 (including tip) 3 times in the first month of signing up they will give you 1,000 bonus points. I did that when I first signed up. I think I spent about $30 on each visit but it was 3 points per dollar so I got the 30 points for using my credit card, 90 points bonus (total 120 points), I filled out a review online and got an additional 10 points. I did this 3 times in the first month so I earn 130 points x 3 times = 390 points plus the 1,000 bonus points. So, when it was all done I spend $90 and got 1,390 points - not too shabby!

Shopping: Also part of the Rapid Rewards program is the shopping system. Visit the site here. This program only works when you shop online. You can order online and do an in store pick (that's what I usually do for Home Depot and Walmart). Once again, sign up and choose a store to shop at. These are big name stores so I'm sure you will find some stores you typically shop at. Each store has a different amount of bonus points so you will have to read the offer. Typically its 1 or 2 points for each dollar spent at their website. There is a program that you can install in the Chrome Browser that detects websites that are part of the program. If you arrive at a website that is part of the Rapid Rewards program it will pop up a message with a button that says "Activate", just click the button and after a few browser window changes (happens automatically) you will now earn extra points when you make your purchase at the website. That little pop-up has helped me earn a lot of extra points because I forget to look for stores at the website.

Surveys: You can fill out surveys to earn additional points. While you won't earn a huge amount doing this, it could add 500 to 1000 points to your account balance. Learn more about the program by clicking here.

Step 4: The day you earn the 110,000 points is the day you earn Free Companion. They usually let you know via email. From that day on until the end of the following year you will have free companion status. Any flights you book using points or by purchasing you can add your free companion by only paying the federal fees. View the FAQ for information on how to add a free companion to a flight. Remember you need to earn the 110,000 points before Dec 31st. If you don't make it you will not lose any of your points earned but your counter for points earned towards Free Companion will reset to 0 (zero) on Jan 1st.

Step 5: Go on vacations - as many as you can. If you running low on points there are some other things you can do to earn more. Click on the "More Points" link on the menu.

Step 6: As your free companion comes to end have your spouse sign up and following the steps on this website again. Cancel your cards, wait 2 years and then you can sign up again and follow the steps... again. Have your spouse cancel their cards - wait 2 years and run the program again. So, you should be able to carry free companion about every other year. During the years without, save up vacation time and money for the next free companion run.


Copyright 2015 - 2019 - Jerry Drescher