My favorite element of managing this site is learning of reader success stories. We’ve got another one of those at hand! Staci, a long-time reader, recently emailed me to let me know she earned the Southwest Companion Pass. She used a variety of tactics to do so and she volunteered to participate in a Q&A to share her experience, in the hopes it will benefit other readers.
When you’re done reading, leave your thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Also check out my previous posts which focused on the Southwest Companion Pass:
- Reader Request: Help Me Understand Southwest Companion Pass Before My Head Explodes
- Southwest Companion Pass – One of the Best Airline Perks Around
- Reader Request: Help us Get Southwest Companion Pass
The Honeymoon Guy (THG): Hi Staci! First off, what motivated you to go after a Southwest Companion Pass (CP)?
Staci: Honestly I never thought I’d have a chance at earning the companion pass until I realized I was two-thirds of the way there in July. I’m very competitive at heart, so I figured why not give it a try! My husband and I love to travel so I thought this might help us take a few more vacations.
THG: What was your first foray at racking up Southwest Rapid Rewards?
Staci: I signed up for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card in January of 2015 since I knew I would be traveling pretty frequently to a destination with a direct route from my home airport. Once I met the $2,000 spending requirement in 3 months I earned 50,000 points plus the points associated with the spending. I was almost halfway to the Companion Pass just from that.
THG: Did you apply for a second Southwest credit card to get an additional 50,000 Rapid Rewards points?
Staci: I decided against this option in case I wanted to utilize a second card at another time. Once I realized there are so many different ways to earn points, I started strategizing.
THG: What were those other approaches and how many points were you able to earn through them?
Staci: The very first thing I did was use the Southwest credit card for any and all of my spending, bill payment, etc., since each dollar spent earns a point. I also tried to take advantage of any Rapid Rewards offer available, both through Southwest directly and Chase Southwest credit card services (occasionally have 4x earning potential on flight purchases).
I also signed up as a member with all of the Southwest partners (car rental companies and hotels) and directed my rewards points to my Southwest account. There were decent standard offers and then some great limited-time promotions. With the special offers, I could sometimes earn up to 2,400 points for a car rental.
The Southwest shopping portal is full of earning potential. For example, one day there was a Kmart deal for 12 Rapid Rewards points for every dollar spent. I stocked up on household items and earned another 2,300 points. For those same purchases I was also earning additional points by using my Southwest credit card, so I was really double-dipping. 1-800-Flowers typically has an promotion where a $30 purchase earns 1,000 points, so I started sending gifts through their website.
I even switched our electric supplier for another 7,500 points.
(Note from THG: I published a post on this general topic a few weeks ago.)
But I have to say the BIGGIE was using Rocketmiles to book hotels, which pulled me in between 20,000 and 25,000 points. Depending on the hotel I was able to earn up to 10,000 points for a stay, though I would say 3-5,000 was average. If you sign up through this link you can get 1,000 bonus miles.
THG: That’s impressive! You really did use a lot of different methods to acquire points. Did you have any issues with points not posting in a timely manner?
Staci: Occasionally there were some issues with points posting, but Rapid Rewards customer service was very responsive. Usually a phone call or follow-up email got the situation corrected. Rocketmiles in particular was great at posting points quickly, always within a week after check-out. I do recommend holding on to your shopping receipts, as you will have to email them if your purchase does not get posted.
Get my free 9-page eBook on Planning an Epic Honeymoon or Unforgettable Vacation Without Breaking the Bank, when you sign up for my email newsletter!
THG: Did your husband enjoy watching this pursuit?
Staci: Ha! He and some of my friends thought I was a little crazy, especially when I switched our electric supplier. But now that we’ve already made a Companion Pass booking for holiday travel that saved us $400+, my husband is loving it! Funny how that works, huh? 😉
THG: Now that you have the Companion Pass, what are your plans to get good value out of it?
Staci: We’re going to use it for quite a few trips to Florida throughout the end of 2015 and 2016. With Southwest flying to some appealing Caribbean destinations we’ll consider a vacation to a place like Jamaica or Cancun, as you’ve mentioned in previous posts.
By the time the CP expires, I expect we’ll have used it for about 6 round-trip flights. Now that I’m hooked on earning points I will continue to do so and use those points and others I’ve already accumulated to book my flights and then of course use the CP to book the second ticket.
THG: Are you planning to use the option of switching your companion at all?
Staci: I don’t have any specific plans yet, but with the ability to switch my companion up to 3 times I may at some point change my companion to my Mom or sister for a trip and then switch it back to my husband.
THG: Now that you’ve acquired the Companion Pass, do you have your eye on any other travel perk or program?
Staci: I’d be lying if I said the thought of trying to maintain Companion Pass status hasn’t crossed my mind!
Thank you very much, Staci, for participating in the Q&A. I’m very impressed with your ability to leverage everyday purchases into boatloads of points!
One suggestion I have for Staci, and readers, is to also sign up for Rapid Rewards Dining. You can usually earn 3 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent at participating restaurants and as of writing there is a 750 bonus point promotion available. There are similar dining programs available for other frequent flyer programs as well. If you eat at restaurants often you can really rack up points without spending any additional money.
Do you have a comment or a question for Staci or me? Leave it below in the comments section.