This year, Erik and I each had a Companion Pass for Southwest Airlines. Now that most of our travel is scheduled through the end of 2022, I can assess how much value we got out of these passes this year.
I travel more than Erik, since he’s stuck going to his job and I work for myself. However, he tends to take more expensive flights than me, for the same reason. I was surprised when I added up our flights and found that we both got about the same dollar amount of free tickets for our companions in 2022: $1,700 each, or $3,400 for our family. That’s very similar to the $3,300 we saved last year. We are flying more this year, but getting better deals on flights, which surprised me since in general flights got more expensive in 2022.
Here’s how that shook out:
Trips on Carrie’s Pass: 10 one-way trips for a total value of about $1,700
This year due to unusual circumstances I ended up flying quite a few segments on my own. But I was able to bring a companion along to Hawaii, New York City and multiple trips back home to Wisconsin (via O’Hare). Before December, I still have two round trips to Wisconsin planned and will bring a companion on both.
For all these trips, the Companion Pass saved us 93,648 points (about $1,300 worth) and $385 cash.
Trips on Erik’s pass: 12 one-way trips for a total of 97,571 points (worth about $1,460) + $250 cash = $1,710
Erik came with me on some of the trips, and went on his own with a kid for several flights as well. Before the end of the year, he’ll be flying to Southern California and back. He’ll accompany me on both trips back to Wisconsin this fall, but he’s only bringing a companion on one of them.
Chicago-Oakland 12,700 miles
Kona-Oakland $112 cash
Oakland-Ontario (California) 8,446
Oakland-Ontario RT $138
So, if you’re wondering what a Southwest Companion Pass is worth, of course it will vary based on how often you fly with your companion. But for us, flying 10-12 trips this year, it was worth about $1,700.
Is it worth it to spend all that money on a specific credit card in order to get the Companion Pass? That depends. To get one for 2023, you’ll have to accumulate 125,000 Southwest points from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 of this year.
I already did that for myself, mainly by spending on my Southwest Visa but with a little help from shopping through the Southwest store. I didn’t buy anything I wouldn’t have bought anyway, but I negotiatied with the company that replaced our roof to allow us to charge that $16,000 expense, which certainly helped. Also keep in mind that all that credit card spending also gave me at least one mile per dollar. So in 2023, when I fly I will be getting my own ticket free with miles, plus my free companion ticket.
Since we just finished getting my companion pass in July, we started working in earnest on getting one for Erik in 2023. Without a major expense like a new roof on the horizon, we’ve had to get more creative to get his. We switched all our household spending to his Southwest Visa card, but that will probably only total about 40,000 points by the end of the year
So I decided to spend some money now to save money later. I spent $199 getting a Performance Business Southwest Visa in his name, which promises an 80,000-point bonus after spending $5,000. I also paid fees of just below 3% to charge several large expenses: our $6,000 estimated tax payment and $4,500 of our daughter’s college tuition. Altogether, the new credit card and the extra fees cost about $500.
So, we spent $500 in the hopes of securing another year of free companion fares, and hopefully we will get at least $1,700 value out of it again. Preferably more! I’d prefer to earn the companion pass without any extra spending, but considering that the investment also should net us a lot of miles, it’s not too bad a deal.