Travel has always been a passion for our family. Exploring new destinations, experiencing different cultures, and making memories together is at the top of our list. Of course, we especially love it when our travels involve a coastline! Because we love to travel often, we are always on the lookout for ways to maximize our travel experiences. I would often wonder about how to fly for free. In this post, I’m sharing our secret to flying for free – the companion pass.
This is NOT a sponsored post. I’ve just had so many people ask about how we travel BOGO, that I wanted to explain how we fly for free with our companion pass. We’re sort of obsessed with it!
I’m going to take this moment to say – I could dive a WHOLE lot deeper into travel rewards than I have so far. I’ll continue to update this post as I learn more! There are definitely strategies based on time of year and various promotions that are recommended (in order to maximize the sign up perks). I didn’t follow a specific strategy, I just happened to catch a great promo. I’ve continued to earn the companion pass each year since, based on our purchases and travel with Southwest Airlines.
Our Intro To Earning Travel Rewards
Our journey to enjoying travel rewards began when we discovered the power of travel credit cards. We started with the Chase Sapphire Visa, which I had read about being one of the best travel rewards program.
With our sign up bones and points from our first few months of purchases, we earned enough points for a FREE 5 night stay at the luxurious Grand Hyatt Kauai. It was such a dream! This was an experience that opened our eyes to the possibilities of free travel using rewards, we were sold.
We Love Southwest Airlines
Living in the US, Southwest Airlines quickly became our preferred airline over the years. We adore the conveniences they offer, from free baggage policies to hassle-free flight changes. We fly with them often enough that their convenience – and their fun spirited vibe – were what kept us loyal.
Traveling fairly often for work and personal trips with Southwest Airlines had us earning a fair amount of Rapid Rewards points just with flights alone. However, we realized that if we really wanted to maximize the money we were dedicating to travel, we could do more.
Earning The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass And Flying BOGO
According to the Southwest website in 2023, “A Member who earns 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points or who flies 100 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines per the calendar year will qualify for Companion Pass”.
In the spring of 2021, we stumbled upon a promotion that would change our travel game forever. Southwest Airlines was offering a Companion Pass if we signed up for their Southwest Rapids Rewards Visa and spent a certain minimum (I believe around $4000) on qualifying purchases within the first three months. We knew we had upcoming expenses that could meet this requirement, and decided to go for it.
Once we received the credit card, we were conscious about swiping it for our everyday purchases. The Southwest Rapid Rewards card also offers higher point earnings for a handful of brands and services. We made sure to use the card when it would earn bonus points.
How To Earn Rapid Rewards Points To Earn Your Companion Pass
Southwest changes their sign up offer from time to time, so be sure to check the current offer. There are various ways that you can earn Rapid Rewards to count towards your companion pass :
- Utilize your initial sign up bonus. Be sure to keep your eye on the date that you need to spend the minimum amount by in order to earn this.
- Spend with your Southwest Rapid Rewards card. You gain 1 point for every $1 spent (and 2 points for every $1 at Southwest!). There are great promotions from time to time, allowing you to earn extra points with various vendors.
- Share with a friend. You can earn 15,000 to 20,000 bonus points (up to 100,000 in a calendar year) when a friend signs up with your referral.
- Fly on Southwest. One of the quickest ways to earn more Rapid Rewards is to earn points during your flight!
- Book other parts of your travel through Southwest’s partners. Their site lists out a ton of partners that will help you earn bonus points.
Where We’ve Flown Bogo
Since earning the Companion Pass, we’ve been thrilled with what it’s offered us, and how much Walt has gotten to fly for free with me. While only paying taxes and fees (just $5.60 in the continental US!), we’ve jetted off to :
- island hop Hawaii (twice)
- explore the Yucatan Peninsula area in Mexico
- venture Belize (twice)
- catch a Coldplay concert in Texas on a whim
- roam all around the continental US
Smooth Skies And Flight Bookings
Earning the companion pass has been like having a golden ticket to adventure, and we’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. The companion pass is so easy to use and can all be managed in your account online :
- assign your companion (you can change who it’s assigned to up to 3 times in a calendar year)
- purchase your ticket (you can purchase a ticket using rewards and STILL use your companion pass – mind blown!)
- assign your companion to the flight (there are no restrictions to when or how many times your companion can fly with you as long as there is a seat available).
- pay the taxes and fees you would pay anyway (this is typically around $5, but we’ve paid up to $100 depending on international fees)
- manage your companion and A-List status towards next year
- enjoy your vacay extra hard because BOGO travel
Additional Perks We Love
The benefits of the Southwest Rapid Rewards card go beyond the Companion Pass. We love the extra Rapid Rewards points, priority boarding (we’ve also earned A-List!), complimentary drinks from time to time, complimentary wifi from time to time, special promotions, and more. To amplify our rewards, we even got the Southwest Business Card and use it for all our business expenses. It’s a win-win for our family!
Beyond the companion pass, we’ve been able to earn a lot more free travel because of the Rapid Rewards points we get by using use the card often. Most of the time when we fly with Southwest, our flights are booked using points, making them free for the three of us while only using points for 2 tickets (and the companion pass for the 3rd). Note : travel booked with Rapid Rewards points does NOT count towards earning or re-earning the companion pass.
Responsible Credit Card Usage
This paragraph feels important for me to write. We’ve been extremely conscious about how we use our travel credit cards, and I encourage this so strongly.
While we revel in the perks of our travel credit cards and are so grateful for them, it’s crucial to stress responsible usage. We pay off our balances in full each month on auto-pay and only charge what we can comfortably afford. This way, we continue to reap the benefits without accumulating debt.
See You In The Air – Hopefully You Fly For Free Too!
Flying BOGO is a game-changer, and the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass has been our passport to unforgettable adventures. I love this program so much, and am so grateful that they have a rewards program that allows a loved one to fly for free.
If you’re looking to earn travel rewards, want a free companion pass and travel where Southwest Airlines offers routes, definitely consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. Your next adventure awaits – and it could be a lot closer (and less expensive!) than you think!
Here is a link to the current Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card promotion!