Traveling with kids gets more expensive when they grow out of being able to ride for free on your lap or stop qualifying for things like the Southwest Airlines child fares. Fortunately, there are always tricks to make traveling with kids cheaper. Thanks to a bonus offer last year for new Southwest credit card customers, we are getting a free Southwest Companion Pass to make traveling with children cheaper.
What Is the Southwest Free Companion Pass?
Southwest Airlines offers a companion pass that allows one person, your companion, to travel free with you. Unlike the other airlines that continuously use rules, fine print, and extra fees to squeeze money out of their customers like the cash pinatas they are, Southwest treats customers fairly in most cases. As such the companion pass really is as good of a deal as it sounds like.
With the Southwest companion pass you get to choose one person to be your companion. Unfortunately, you cannot change who the companion is. You can’t fly with your mom as your companion in March and then fly free with your dad as your companion in June. It’s one person. Fortunately, for our family, that works just fine. We either fly just one of us (business, conference, friends, etc.) or we fly all of us (Disneyland, Disney World, beaches, Japan, Europe). So, I set my spouse as my companion, and we’re all set.
The even better benefit of the Southwest free companion pass is that it is in effect for the year in which you earn it, AND the following year. So, here we are in January. You get the idea.
How To Qualify For the Southwest Free Companion Pass
Usually, qualifying for the free Southwest companion pass takes 125,000 points, or 100 one-way flight segments.
That’s a lot of flying.
But, thanks to an offer for new Southwest credit card customers last year, we can earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $2,000. Then, we can earn another 50,000 bonus points after spending $10,000. The base earning on Southwest credit card spending is 1 point per $1, so after spending the $12,000 we would have 112,000 Southwest airlines points. The free Southwest companion pass is just 13,000 points away at that point.
Basically we can earn a free companion pass with Southwest credit card before flying a single mile.
I know what you’re thinking, and no we are not rich but you can use your credit cards wisely in order to maximize spending and points without ever paying a dime in interest.
Maximize Southwest Credit Card Spending to Get Companion Pass
Like a lot of Americans, we don’t pay for much with cash or check anymore. It is just more convenient to use a card. From pay-at-the-pump gas, to self-checkout, to online shopping, paying with a credit card is just so much easier than using cash or check.
Of course, that convenience can cost you a lot of money if you aren’t smart with your credit cards. We pay our cards off every month, so we never pay interest, fees, or penalties. Typically, we have a few different cards we use. My Chase Premier Visa pays 2x points on restaurants for example, so I use it there. My Capital One Venture card pays 2x points on everything so I use it for most everything else. But, here in January, we will exclusively use the Southwest Visa to spend out $10,000.
Now, we don’t usually spend $10,000 each month. It happens, but it takes unusual circumstances, like buying furniture, travelling, or signing the kids up for camps or something.
It’s January, so I have medical expenses to pay before I clear my out-of-pocket maximum. That happens a lot faster for me than most people thanks to my cancer treatments. That would be $10K right there, but the bills don’t come in that fast, so we’ll use it for everything else.
Kids school fees and supplies? Check.
Booking flights for trips we have planned? Check. (3x points for those Southwest Airlines tickets that aren’t free)
Internet, cable, and streaming? Check (2x points for those)
Memberships? Might as well go annual this month…
Bills that I can charge to a card? Yep.
Mortgage? I wish. They won’t take a credit card.
I know some people pay their taxes with a credit card, but you’d have to check and make sure the fees don’t cost more than the benefit.
Heck. One could get creative with some low-tier, legal, money laundering. Paying expenses for Mom and Dad with our Southwest card and then having them pay us back…
Seriously. If you think about it, there are plenty of ways to spend money.
Free Southwest Companion Pass Earned in January
With virtually every expense we have for the month, plus some non-monthly expenses should add us up to $10,000 in January. If we’re lucky, with some bonuses and extra creativity we could earn the points we need for a free companion pass in January.
That would make our Southwest Companion Pass good for most of 2022, and all of 2023. By then, we’ll come up with some more tricks for cheaper travel with children.