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

You and your spouse could get round trip flights to Hawaii for as little as $22.40 for both tickets. Most couples will have to pay $44.80 (that's $22.40 each). Read below to learn how to earn free companion and book your trips to Hawaii or multiple other locations.

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 years 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 125,000 points in 1 calendar year. Okay, stop panicking! I know a 125,000 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 to the program. 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. The other change they made to the program started (starts) Jan 1st, 2020. In 2019 you only needed 110,000 points to earn free companion. Starting in 2020 you will need 125,000 points. The 15K increase and the inability to overlap 2 cards makes earning free companion a little tougher but not impossible.

To get started, you need to sign up for one of these credit cards - Premier, Plus or Priority and earn the 40K,50K or 60K 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 125,000 points.

Important: Be sure to complete this process by Dec 31st of the year you start it. If you can't earn the 125,000 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 credit 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 the 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.

Sign up for this card late December or early January to have your best chance at getting free companion.

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.
40K, 50K or 60K bonus points + 2,000 points for what you charged.

You are now at the end of March and you should have at least
42,000 points but could have as high as 62,000 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. 40K, 50K or 60K bonus points.
Priority Card Higher annual feed 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 try to 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 2,500 per month in charges/points. Remember you are trying to get to 125,000 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 30,000 points plus the 50,000 bonus for a total of 80,000 - yup, you are short by 45,000. 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 Southwest.com with your credit card you can earn anywhere from 6 to 13 times the purchase amount in points. Not the strongest way to earn points but it could help bring you a little closer. I suggest you use points to purchase airline tickets and use your credit card to purchase hotels with bonus points.

Rent a Car: By reserving a car via the Southwest.com 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. Depending on which rental company you rent from you could earn double the points for the charges. Visit Southwest.com and look for their "partners". 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 southwesthotels.com 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. There are usually 2 options when booking - the 1st is for a base line amount of bonus points and the 2nd is for more bonus points. Both options usually come with a "boost" option. If you are trying to get points - choose the 2nd option and click the boost button. Usually you will pay an extra $250 to get the hotel but you could get massive bonus points. Click "The Math" link to get an overview of the math behind earning free companion.

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! They usually have a standing offer that you get 300 bonus points for each 1000 points you earn. If you and your spouse go out to eat once per month and with tip your meal is $42, you would earn 42 points for the charge, 3 points per dollar from the program plus 10 points for doing a review. That's a total of 178 points total of which 136 points towards the program. 136 x 12 months = 1,632 points + 300 bonus points for getting 1,000 points = 1,932 points total. Not gonna get you free companion by itself but every little bit helps. If you want to make a few more points per visit order a second meal to take home.

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 but I have seen some stores offer up to 9 points per dollar. 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. One trick you can try to earn some additional points is to purchase Visa Gift Cards which offer .5 points per dollar. Purchase them with your Southwest credit card so you get 1 dollar point and then .5 for each dollar from the shopping website. Basically you are getting a total of 1.5 points per dollar spent. This works well if you purchase a $500 card and then use it for gas and groceries.

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 125,000 points is the day you start 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 125,000 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 - 2020 - Jerry Drescher