Here are a couple questions I am getting a lot:

  • When is it too late in the year to start earning the Southwest Companion Pass?
  • Do you have enough time to finish earning your Rapid Rewards points before year’s end?

All good questions that come up now that we are headed into the fall season.

Southwest Companion Pass
I earned my Companion Pass last December (see the Christmas tree behind me :))!

Why the Question?

So why is this even an issue? Because in order to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, a pass that lets one person fly free with you for up to two years, you must accumulate 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within ONE CALENDAR YEAR (Currently 125,000 points).

The longer the year goes on, the less time you have to finish earning those 125,000 points. That’s where the concern comes in.

Download my free guide on how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass before you continue! 

Also, the Companion Pass is good for the year in which you earn it through the following year. So the later you earn it, the less time you will have to use it. However, earning it now is better than not earning it at all in my book.

I Got a Late Start in 2015

I started earning the Companion Pass largely in September of 2015 because we were in the process of purchasing a home and I did not want to take any risk of a credit pull dropping my credit score. So I waited until the process was finished in early September to finish earning my points. My pass arrived at Christmas time and will be good through the end of 2016.

So When is it Too Late?

I would say start no later than October if you are just beginning the process. You are going to need to apply for TWO credit cards and spend a minimum of $4000 total to earn 104,000 Rapid Rewards points from those cards. It can take up to 30 days from the credit card monthly closing date after you complete the minimum spend for those points to show up.

You’ll need to apply for two of the three below cards:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Premier
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus

To apply for any of the credit cards in this post, please start at TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS in the main menu above. This allows me to earn a commission — at no cost to you — to help pay the blogging the bills and allow me to continue to bring you great information FREE! Thank you for taking this step!

Then, you’ll need to earn the remaining 6000 points through spending on your card, Rapid Rewards Shopping, Rapid Rewards Dining or referral points (though these take a while to appear and are really to risky to count on this late in the year).

The quickest way to achieve the remaining points is through responsible spending on your card. Use a service like Plastiq to pay for big expenses like rent, a mortgage or car payment that you typically cannot pay with a credit card; Plastiq charges a 2.5% fee of the amount. If you are purchasing something online, be sure to start at the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal to earn points both through the portal AND on your card.

If you haven’t gotten started, now is the time to get going. Southwest STILL has 50,000-point offers on all of its cards. Good luck!

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  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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