I have talked about the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass before and how it is currently one of the best available perks in the airline industry. The way it works is that the companion pass holder books one ticket on Southwest Airlines, and gets one free ticket for their companion. The booked ticket can be a revenue ticket or even better a ticket booked with Rapid Rewards points.
You need 110,000 qualifying points to get the companion pass. The 110,000 points are worth roughly $1833. The value doubles to $3,666 if you use all those points within the validity of the pass since your companion is flying free. I got my pass in 2012, so it is valid till the end of 2013. I have been using it extensively and have noticed how I am saving hundreds of dollars traveling with my wife. I wanted to lay out just how I got the 110,000 qualifying points
1. Converted hotel points (Choice Privileges points) to Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
One option is to convert hotel points to Rapid Rewards points. Generally, these transfer ratios are not favorable. However, if you can get hotel points cheap, then the transfer ratio can become better. An opportunity to buy certain hotel points for cheap appears every year from Daily Getaways sponsored by the US Travel Association. Hopefully, we will see it again this year.
Last year, I bought 176,000 Choice Privileges for a highly discounted price of $671.40 through this Daily Getaways deals. Normally, Choice hotels sells the points at $11 per 1000 points and you can only buy 20,000 points annually. To buy 176,000 Choice points would normally cost $1936.
6000 Choice Privileges points convert to 1800 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points. I converted 168,000 Choice points to 50,400 Rapid Rewards Points. Since each Rapid Reward is 1.67 cents each, 50,400 points are worth $841.68. So, I spent $671.40, but got $841.68 in value, and I still have 8,000 Choice hotels points left in my account which i decided to save for a different transfer promotion.
Rapid Rewards Points earned: 50,400
2. Applied for the Chase Rapid Rewards Premier Visa Credit Card
This one was easy. I applied for the Visa card which at the time offered 50,000 points after meeting minimum spend. I spent $3917 on the credit card and received the full 50,000 points.
The current bonus on the Premier Visa is still 50,000 points, although it comes a $99 fee which is actually worth it. Other versions of the visa card are currently offering the 50,000 points bonus as well. This can change anytime however.
Rapid Rewards Earned: 53,917
3. Flying Southwest Airlines
This one was easy as well. These are trips I had taken earlier in the year.
Rapid Rewards Points earned: 5784
Lets total it up: 50,400 + 53917 + 5784 = 110,101 Rapid Rewards Points
So, for $671.40 spent on buying hotel points, three paid roundtrip flights on Southwest, and spending money on my credit card, I achieved the companion pass. If I didn’t want to fly revenue tickets, I would have just spent another $6000 or so dollars on the credit card to qualify.
Do you have the Companion Pass? What do you think about it?