Southwest Airlines just announced some big changes to their Rapid Rewards program. One of the most notable changes is the new change to the Southwest Companion Pass, and it is definitely a negative change. Keep reading below for details of the new changes.
Points won’t expire
The first Southwest change is that your Rapid Rewards will never expire.
More and more airlines are moving to allowing your points to never expire so it is nice to see Southwest get on board with this.
Hopefully this trend will continue and eventually it will be an anomaly for you to have to track your expiring miles.
Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!
Companion Pass change
The Southwest Companion Pass is a pass that allows a companion to fly for free with you on Southwest flights for up to two calendar years — it’s generally considered one of the most valuable travel perks available.
Beginning in 2020, you will need to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. That is a 15,000 point increase from the current requirement of 110,000.
While this increase is unfortunate it won’t be impossible to get the Companion Pass with credit cards when the time is right. The reason is that we have seen the credit card welcome bonuses for the Chase cards range from 60,000 to 80,000 points at their highest.
So earning 125,000 Points via credit cards is not going to be that much more difficult than earning 110,000 points when earning the best welcome bonuses.
With that said if you are not able to catch the bonuses at their peak then it just got a lot harder to get to the Companion Pass with credit cards.
Right now you could jump on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, which offers 70,000 Rapid Rewards after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open and then wait about a month to get the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card which earns 40,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
Update: the 80K business card is still out! This link doesn’t earn me commission but of course I’m always looking out for you readers!
Those cards (80K + 40K) would set you up to earn the Companion Pass in 2020 (after hitting minimum spend).
You need to make sure you don’t hit your minimum spend until after your December 2019 statement closes because you need your Rapid Rewards to hit for 2020. Some people get confused about closing dates, due dates, etc., so I usually recommend for people to go the safe route.
The safe route is to wait until January 1, 2020 to hit your minimum spend for these cards. You could meet some of your minimum spend before that but just don’t hit 100% of it before then if you want to be 1,000% sure you’re timing this right.
Southwest will also be adding taxes and fees for same-day standbys beginning January 1, 2021.
If I was interested in the Companion Pass, I would jump on these offers (80K + 40K) ASAP to more easily hit the requirement of 125,000 Rapid Rewards in 2020 which will only be obtainable in the future when the best bonuses return.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.