I know this isn’t RV related, but it was a fairly adventurous thing we did and right now is the time to get your own pass. I’ll also admit that we’re probably not going to be flying as much once we’re in the RV so we want all of our friends and family to fly free to come see us!
So in case you didn’t know, we flew a lot in the past 2 years. We went to Puerto Rico, Maine, Rochester, Nashville, Dallas, Vegas, Baltimore, Boston, Atlanta and Maine, Rochester, Nashville again. I’ll let you in on a secret, our total cost for ALL of those round trip flights for 2 people was less than $250. That’s over 40 flights for less than $250 total! The trick was combining credit card offers to get the Southwest Companion Pass. It’s awesome, and now is the time of year to do it yourself if you want to fly for super cheap.
First off, if you don’t keep a $0 balance on your credit cards every single month, please don’t do this. I would feel really bad if I was the reason you started down the slippery slope of credit card debt. The interest you pay each month will severely cut into any gains you get out of the cheap flights.
I learned about this deal from the blog Million Mile Secrets. It is run by a guy who spends his time flying first class around the world staying in hotels with his wife all the time. Here is the post where he describes the wonderfulness that is the Southwest Companion Pass. I can’t get a referral bonus with the good credit card deals so I’ll just use his referral links. Thanks Million Mile Secrets!
But now on to the good stuff.
Basically the way it works is that with Southwest Rapid Rewards Points, if you acquire 110,000 points you get to keep those points and as a thank you for being an awesome customer, you get a Companion Pass. You can give the companion pass to one person and one person only (you can transfer it a couple times a year but it is a pain to transfer) so lets say you give it to your spouse. Now any time you fly, your spouse flies free ($6 September 11th fee not included, that’s where the $250 above comes from). This instantly doubles the value of all of those 110,000 points you’ve acquired. Instead of being worth about 1.6 cents each, they are worth 3.2 cents each because you get two flights for the price of one. That’s $3520 in flights. The pass is good until December 31st of the calendar year after you earn your 110,000th point. So if you time it perfectly and get all 110,000 points in January 2016, you’ll get to keep the companion pass until December 31st 2017 (almost 2 full years).
“But wait!” you say, “how in the world does anyone get 110,000 points? That would require paying full price for like 200 flights!” Normally you’d be right, but this is where the credit card offers come in. Right now Southwest has upped the sign up bonus with their credit cards to 50,000 points each. You need to either sign up using one the super special links (like this one for the personal Premier Card or this one for the Business Premier Card) or you need to sign up at in the airport terminal at one of the little kiosks that Southwest sets up.
If you sign up for one business card and one personal card and spend $2000 on each of them within 3 months, you get 50,000 points with each for a total of 100,000 points. You also get an extra 4000 points for the $4000 of spending you did to get there. (Here are a bunch of ways to fake your spending to $4000 in 3 months if you don’t usually do that) Now getting the last 6000 points is a little harder (I bought flowers through 1-800-flowers for people for mothers day and then rented a car for the Puerto Rico trip to get that last 6000 points) but 6000 points is much more doable than 110,000 points.
“But wait!” you say again, “I don’t have a business, how do I get a business card?” It’s pretty easy, you apply and say “its for my Etsy/blog/tutoring/baking/whatever-you-do-that-someone-theoretically-could-pay-you-money-for business” or even, “I travel a lot for work and I want a separate card for my work related expenses to better track reimbursements I’m owed.” Those are both perfectly acceptable reasons to need a business card. For me, the now mostly defunct http://whitewatermap.com “needed” a business card so it got one that came with Southwest points 🙂
You can also combine it with other credit card offers to get even more Southwest points once you have your Companion Pass. We picked up another 70,000 points through a well timed Chase Business card promotion (it’s only 60,000 right now) and another 55,000 through the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with an authorized signer. For us, those 4 cards got us 235,000 points worth double because of the companion pass. Those points ended up being worth over $7500 in flights.
If you have any questions let me know or check out that summary page over at Million Mile Secrets. I can attest that it absolutely works and is awesome and isn’t that much effort. So when you’re in the airport this season and the representative at the Southwest kiosk is calling out to get you to sign up for their card, give it a second look. The two free round trip flights are pretty nice by themselves honestly.