Point Me to First Class with Devon Gimbel MD | Unlimited Free Flights with the Southwest Companion Pass with Lyn Mettler (Part 2)

37. Unlimited Free Flights with the Southwest Companion Pass with Lyn Mettler (Part 2)

Nov 13, 2023

Today’s show is the second half of my conversation about Southwest’s Companion Pass with Lyn Mettler. Lyn has been writing about travel and interviewing experts for years. In 2015, she discovered how to fly her family of 4 free to all the places she'd written about, and Lyn now teaches hundreds of families this same simple system through her Families Fly Free membership.

Last week, Lyn shared how to earn your Southwest Companion Pass and how the pass works. We’re picking up right where we left off, discussing the specific points activities that do and don’t count toward qualifying for a Companion Pass, and Lyn is sharing a strategy you can use to make sure you qualify for a Companion Pass by early 2024.

Tune in this week to discover how to qualify for unlimited flights through the Southwest Companion Pass. You’ll also learn three common mistakes you need to avoid when working toward your own Companion Pass, so you don’t run into any surprises as you get your hands on your Southwest Companion Pass.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode: 

  • The points-earning activities that will help you qualify for a Southwest Companion Pass.
  • 3 common mistakes Lyn sees people making as they try to earn a Companion Pass.
  • Some extra tips for earning the points required to qualify for your Companion Pass.
  • The easiest, fastest, and cheapest strategy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
  • Why you need to be aware of Chase’s 5/24 rule when earning your Companion Pass.
  • How to make the Southwest Companion Pass part of your rewards-travel strategy.


Listen to the Full Episode:


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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Point Me to First Class, the only show for employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners who are looking to optimize their higher-than-average expenses to travel the world. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I believe that your expenses are your greatest untapped asset if you know how to leverage them. Ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? Let's get started.

Welcome back to the podcast everyone. Today's episode is the second half of my conversation with Lyn Mettler about how to earn a Southwest Companion Pass. So if you haven't already listened to the prior episode, episode number 36, you're going to want to pause this episode now and come back after you've listened to the first part of our conversation that was released last week. 

In today's episode, we are going to pick up right where we left off. Lyn is going to talk about what points earning activities do and do not count towards earning the 135,000 Southwest points necessary to qualify for a Companion Pass. Before we dive deeper into the details of how to use applying for new Southwest credit cards to earn your Companion Pass and what to avoid doing so that you don't accidentally mess up your chance to qualify for a Companion Pass early next year. Enjoy everyone. 

Devon: Can you spend a little bit of time and tell us what are some of the points earning activities that actually will count towards earning Companion Pass? What are some of the things that actually will earn you points but not the points you need towards that 135,000 limit? 

Lyn: Yeah, so let's start with three that don't because this is another big mistake area right? Like Devon’s saying here, recognize that not all points qualify for the Companion Pass. So you can still earn them and use them to book free flights, but they may just not qualify. 

So number one mistake, probably that I see ever, is people thinking that points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, because you can transfer their points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, over to Southwest and you can use them to book free flights. But when you transfer them over, they do not qualify for the Companion Pass. 

A lot of people just assume oh, I can get the bonus on this card. That's going to qualify. It did used to so that's why it's confusing. They changed that, I don't know, seven, eight years ago. Used to you could bring points over from other cards, and they would qualify. But no points from any other cards than Southwest qualify for the pass. So not Marriott, not Diners Club, nothing. Okay, that's one. 

Number two is you cannot transfer points from someone else. So like, I have a lot of people that are like oh, can my spouse and I, like he collects this many points, I collect this many points. Together we'll have 135,000. So no, you can't do that either. They have to all be earned in one Rapid Rewards account, again, between that January 1 to December 31. So. We never recommend, this is a sidenote, transferring points on Southwest because it's very costly to do that. You can book anyone with your points. So there's no reason to move points to somebody else. Just book them with your own points. Okay. 

All right, then the third one is buying points. So a lot of people think I'm very, very close. I just need 10,000 more points, I'm just gonna buy them, and then that'll push me over. That doesn't work either. So you can't transfer points from a person or a card or buy points to qualify for Companion Pass. So the points that do qualify are Southwest card bonuses, spending points that you earn by spending on a Southwest card. Again, that's not really how we recommend earning the pass either, the spending. The bonuses, yes, the spending, no. 

One of my favorite ways, if you just really just need 10 or 20,000 points, is southwesthotels.com. So you can book a hotel through Southwest. You have to look. You have to know where to find these things, but you can look for a hotel that's offering at least 10,000 points per night. Find the cheapest one you can come up with. You don't even have to stay in it because now you can check in online. You can check out online. Doesn't make any difference. As long as you pay for it.

Then rapid reward shopping is another one that we talk about. It's a great way to just, I look at it as icing on the cake. You can start your shopping in Southwest. Southwest has a site where most retailers are on there. You click through to the retailer, and then you just earn points for purchases you were making anyway. It can be half a point for dollar all the way up to 20 points per dollar. Then this would be on top of any points you'd earn by putting it on a particular credit card. 

But those are hard to accumulate. Like it would take you all year to try to accumulate enough points to get a Companion Pass and then you would have lost a year of eligibility of the pass. So I just, like do that. It's free points, but it's not a great strategy for trying to accumulate Companion Pass points. So anything that says it's a bonus point does not qualify for the Companion Pass. It's another thing you can look for, except for card bonuses. Super confusing, but that's what they say.

Devon: What do you think about referral bonuses? Let's say I hold a Southwest credit card, and I refer a friend or a family member to get their own version of the Southwest card, and they get approved. So I get bonus points for the referral. Do those bonus points count towards this 135,000 point threshold that we're really focused on earning? 

Lyn: Yes, that's a good one I missed. So definitely like in our membership, we always encourage our members to refer each other because spouses, traveling companions, whatever can refer one other. at the moment, you get 20,000 points for that referral. That changes over time. You're usually maxed out at 100,000 over a year. 

But if you have any kind of a platform, social media, podcast, or whatever, certainly put that out there because you could easily get five people to sign up. I guess you'd need more than that, but five or six people and get your Companion Pass that way. So yeah, that's a good option. 

We often tell people we don't recommend spending on the Southwest card. So a lot of people just end up closing it after they have the bonus, but we often recommend just hold on to it so that whoever you're traveling with can use your referral link, you get 20,000 points, and then you can close it. So yeah, that's a good one.

Devon: Yeah. So tell me a little bit more about, of these different options. You said theoretically, if you hold a Southwest credit card already, you could put $135,000 of just spend on that card.

Lyn: Please don’t do that.

Devon: Right or a business card. I love how emphatic you are about maybe that not being your number one recommendation. Just explain to me a little bit more why even if someone does have that amount of spend, like I'm thinking business owners, right, who maybe have multiple tens of thousands of dollars of spend where they think oh well, I already have these business expenses. I can just put this on a Southwest business credit card. Tell me why even if you do have access to that level of spend, you actually don't really recommend that people earn their Southwest Companion Pass that way. 

Lyn: Yes. The way Southwest words earning the Companion Pass, they kind of frame it as like you need to be re-earning it every year because every year will be like your this many points toward Companion Pass, even if you already have a pass. That's not the way to do it. You don't need to be trying to re-earn your pass every year. You need to hold it for two years, and then at the beginning of the year or whatever start re-earning it again. So that's one problem is people think oh, I just need to keep spending to get my pass again next year. 

So the reason why you don't want to do that is even if you have the money to spend on that is because the Southwest card is not a great card for spending because you're A, only earning a Southwest point which you can only use on Southwest. 

So I don't ever recommend putting your day to day spend for your business or personal on any airline card or any hotel card for that matter. I recommend a flexible card. So like a Capital One, or we like the Chase suite of cards or Amex, those types of flexible points systems. Because that point you can use in a variety of ways. Like if you're using a Chase point, you can move it to Southwest if you want to, but if you don't need it over there, you can book a free hotel, or you can book any airline in their portal, for example. So I like to just earn flexible points, let them sit in that pot, and then move them as I need them to wherever they need to go. 

The other thing is on most airline cards, you're only going to earn one point per dollar in most categories of spending, unless you're spending with them, which is what we're trying to not do. So that doesn't benefit us that whoop de doo, we get five miles per dollar on a Delta charge or whatever. We're not buying airfare from Delta or Southwest. So that's not helpful. 

You'll do much better on a Chase Sapphire Preferred, a Capital One Venture X, an Amex Platinum because you'll get more points per dollar in categories that you're going to be tending to spend on. Or if you have a business, like Chase Ink Business Preferred or the Chase Ink Business Cash, for example. Those give you more in categories of spending that you're likely to be doing as a business owner. 

The Southwest is not doing you any favors. So you're getting fewer points, and you're getting an inflexible point. You don't need to earn your pass that way. You can earn it through bonuses with Southwest, and then you can set those cards aside and shift over to your everyday flexible travel card. 

Devon: Yeah, so for so many people who, at least, are eligible to be approved for new Southwest credit cards, and we'll talk about how you know whether or not you're eligible for those cards. But assuming you are, most people who are eligible to get approved for new Southwest credit cards, the easiest, fastest and sort of least expensive way to be able to earn the Southwest Companion Pass in terms of the amount of spend that's required to get to that 135,000 points threshold is going to be through straight just applying for new Southwest credit cards and earning the welcome bonuses on those cards. 

Because as you'd mentioned before, if you sign up for a new Southwest credit card, and whether it's a personal card or a business card, and you meet the minimum spend requirements to earn those bonus points, the welcome bonus points count towards that 135,000 threshold. That is huge because, as we all know, welcome bonuses tend to be very generous in terms of the amount of points that you can earn at one time for a certain amount of spend, as opposed to what we were just talking about of earning one point for every dollar you're spending if you're just putting all of your regular expenses on a card that you already hold and have already earned the bonus on. 

So let's talking about what are some of the accommodations or what are some of the options for qualifying for a Southwest Companion Pass, earning those 135,000 Southwest qualifying points solely through opening up new credit cards. What are the different ways that we can do that with the Southwest credit cards that are currently available?

Lyn: Yes, and one other thing I just thought of as you were talking to you about not spending 135,000 is that probably will take you a while to do that, even if you can do it. There, again, you're halfway through the year, all the way through the year, and you've lost part of your time on your Companion Pass. 

So when it comes to the Southwest card bonuses, so Southwest has three personal cards. You can only hold one of those at a time. You can only get the bonus on any of the personal cards once every 24 months. But note, you can get the bonus again. It doesn't say in the fine print you can never get this bonus again. It says in fact, you can only get it once every 24 months. 

Now there are some cards like Amex where you only get the bonus once a lifetime, and that's what the fine print says. So then you know that going into it. But then they have two business cards. So the business cards are sort of independent of one another, unlike the personal cards. So you can have both business cards at the same time if you wanted, and you can earn the bonus on each of those cards once every 24 months. 

So we like to, like our system involves, and it gets different for each situation, but this would be the basic situation is open the Southwest personal card. Then there's rules you need to know like you have to wait 30 days between Chase Card applications, most of the time, because they will decline you if you apply for more than one of their cards every 30 days. 

So you wait 30 days, and then you open a Southwest business card. Then magically, depending on what the bonuses are at the time, but almost always there's a way to pick two cards, a personal and a business, and get all the points that you need for a Companion Pass. 

But you have the option of you could also get the two business cards, if you needed to. That's another option. You can mix a personal with the two different business cards. So I like to see people do one personal, one business, have it last for two years, then you can rotate with your spouse, have them do that for two years, and then it comes back to you and you can do one personal and the other business. 

Or because you would have been plenty of time, you had that 24 month restriction has, it's now been four years since you last got the bonus. So that 24 month restriction is you're past that. So you could close and reopen that personal card, and you could close and reopen the business card if you wanted. Or you could just open the other business card.

So this is my system of, you can see each person is having to close and open a card once every four years. Part of that is not putting your spend on the Southwest card because you're shorting yourself a bunch of points there. So if you pick the right card, you're getting more points, you can move them to Southwest if you want, you’ve got a Companion Pass. One of you is never paying anything. You've always got it. Like this is a big way you can fly a lot of people, a lot of places on fewer points. 

Then this is a whole other topic, but there's so many ways you can save points on Southwest on top of this compared to any other airline. That you're just kind of always going to pay fewer points than you would most of the time on a Delta or United or an American even. 

Devon: Yeah, those are such great points. So I think for people listening to this episode who have already decided that they really want to go ahead and qualify for a Companion Pass, I think one of the first steps in the process is to sit down and start thinking about well, what are the actual points earning strategies I want to employ so that I can get to that 135,000 point threshold in the 2024 calendar year? 

If you know that applying for and earning the welcome bonus on two Southwest credit cards is the strategy that you want to take because, again, that's probably the fastest, easiest, least complicated way to get to 135,000 points in a short amount of time, like you said, without having to spend for seven months or 10 months of the year to qualify for it. 

Then I think one of the things that you just have to be aware of, and Lyn has already mentioned a lot of these, is just the eligibility rules around those credit cards. So all five of those Southwest credit cards are issued by Chase. So, as she mentioned, there are three personal Southwest credit cards, and there's two business Southwest credit cards. While you can hold both versions of the Southwest business credit card, Chase will only allow you to hold one of the Southwest personal cards at a time. 

So if you currently have no Southwest cards at all then having that strategy of either picking one Southwest personal card and one Southwest business card to apply for and using those welcome bonuses to qualify you for the Companion Pass. Or, again, if you are a business owner, and you're preferring to sign up for business credit cards for any other reason, you could just apply for both of the Southwest business credit cards and earn your two welcome bonuses that way and qualify. 

So one of the things that you do want to make sure is that you understand those eligibility requirements. So if you currently hold a Southwest personal card, Chase will not approve you for a new Southwest personal card even if you've held the one that you have right now for 10 years. Right? So that doesn't matter. Having, right now, a Southwest personal card will disqualify you from getting approved for a new one. 

But Lyn, if someone wanted to be able to sign up and apply for a new Southwest personal card, would it work for them to cancel or close down their current Southwest personal credit card, wait a certain period of time, then would they be eligible to get approved for a new Southwest personal card as long as it's been over 24 months since they originally earned that welcome bonus? Is that a strategy someone can take into account? 

Lyn: Yes, absolutely. A lot of people just miss that. That can really simplify things. So you do want to wait a period there because you want to make sure that the credit bureaus have made the note that that card is closed, and it just takes them a minute to do that. So if you have the time, we recommend leaving 30 days between, if you can plan ahead and go ahead and do that. 

If not, your other option is to close it. Then you can get your credit report for free. As of this recording, you can still get it for free every week at annualcreditreport.com. That's the government site where they allow you to get your, you don't get your score, but you can look at your report. You can see if it's showing as closed yet. Once it shows up as closed, then you could go ahead and apply. 

Devon: All right, brilliant. So you can make that decision for your plan about whether or not you want to have one Southwest personal card and one Southwest business card be the two cards that you want to earn the welcome bonuses for in order to qualify for your Companion Pass. Or you can decide if you want to go after two of the Southwest business cards. 

But the other thing to kind of keep in mind because, as I mentioned, these are all Chase issued cards is that Chase’s infamous 5/24 rule will still apply to all of these credit card applications. So if you're bumping up against 5/24, if you're already over 5/24, you may not actually be eligible for these cards. So you do want to take into consideration what your current Chase 5/24 score is. 

If you're getting close to hitting 5/24, strategically, it oftentimes will make more sense for you to apply for the business Southwest credit card first specifically. Because, as many of you are familiar, you need to be under 5/24 in order for Chase to approve you for any of their personal or business cards. But if you get approved for a Chase business card, that will not actually add to your Chase 5/24 score. 

So if part of your strategy is getting the personal and the business Southwest card, you want to make sure just from timing that you're really aware of whether or not it makes more sense for you to apply for that business card first to preserve your Chase 5/24 score and then go ahead and apply for the personal card.

I think it'd be tremendously disappointing to go and get approved for the personal Southwest card assuming that then you were going to apply for the business card only to get denied because you'd started hitting up against your 5/24 score. So do your due diligence. Make sure that you do know what your Chase 5/24 score is, and don't let that be the thing that gets in the way of your being able to earn this Companion Pass.

Then I also wanted to reiterate that Lyn had mentioned this, but Chase also has beyond the Chase 5/24 rule, they also have some other kind of rules around the frequency that you can be approved for new cards. You want to take that into your time and consideration because Chase will typically approve you for, at most, two new Chase cards every 30 days, but only one business card every 30 days. 

So if your plan is that you want to apply for two Southwest business cards, please do not try to submit applications for both of those cards on the same day. I would anticipate that you would probably get denied from Chase for both of those business credit card applications. So you do want to take into account making sure that you're not applying for these cards in too close of proximity to one another just to maximize those chances, of course, that Chase is going to approve you for your new credit cards. 

So let's assume, Lyn, that up until this point, nothing has gone wrong. Someone's made their plan about which credit cards they want to apply for. Let's say you get approved for your two new Southwest credit cards. You know that once you earn those welcome bonuses, those are going to help count towards that 135,000 point threshold. 

This is where we can start to see some things go wrong in terms of the timing. So can you tell us a little bit more about even if you do apply for those Southwest credit cards, you get them in hand by the end of the calendar year this year, how should you go about actually putting the spend on those cards to make sure that you earn your welcome bonuses at the right time?

Lyn: Yeah, and I'm just gonna give a warning here that even if you think you know what you're doing here, you probably don't, or you may make a mistake. So we have hundreds of people in our membership. As long as I've been doing this every year, I get all these emergency emails at the end of the year about this. So like we just had a very detailed webinar, but we’ll still have people make the mistake. Last year, we did an emergency webinar because so many people had still made mistakes. So let's talk about what the mistakes are that you can make. 

Again, we're what we're doing is we're starting the process now to try to get our pass in hand for January. If you just want to make sure you don't make any mistakes, just start the process next year. Then you're good. As long as it's the year you want to earn the pass, it's not a problem. But as of our recording today, we have like a much better Southwest personal card offer. 

So it went from a 50,000 point bonus to a 75,000 point bonus. That's another reason to start now because we don't see that bonus very often, and that's 25,000 more points you could have to book free flight. So it makes sense to try to grab that. If we can make that bonus count towards next year. Awesome. 

So if you're trying for a pass that starts in 2024, you want to open a card, and you'll have three months to meet that minimum spend. So that's the first thing you need to be aware of that you need to meet that minimum spend within three months. When you open a Chase card, that's very clearly laid out for you in their app or online. You click on the card, it'll tell you when you're end date is for that and how close you are. So that's number one. 

Number two is we want the points to credit in January. So how do we make that happen? We have to make sure we don't trigger the bonus, which is triggered by a minimum spend. Let's say you have to meet a $3,000 minimum spend. You cannot, in any way, go over $3,000. It's the holidays coming up people. Last year, we had one, it was like $1,000. People were just left and right blowing through that by accident. They just didn't even realize. So just set that card aside. Don't give it to anyone else until you're free and clear to meet that minimum spend. 

What we want to do is we want to meet that minimum spend after our December close date. Your close date is different than your due date. That's when they close out your charges and say here's how much you owe us. Then your due date is when you have to pay them by. So in your Chase account when you click on the card, you can see the close date. That will be laid out for you. It's the same every month. 

So you can say okay, my close date is the 10th of December. So I need to make sure I do not cross over $3,000 until after December 10. If you do that, your next close date is going to be January 10. That's when they give you your points for any spending you've done in the period prior to the close date, and that's when your bonus would trigger. So if I finished the bonus on December 25, on January 10 my bonus is going to land in my account along with any points I got for spending from December 11 to January 10 or whatever. Those points are going to be in 2024, and they're going to qualify for a 2024/2025 Companion Pass. 

If you accidentally go over, it's you can't fix this, the bonus is going to trigger this year. Then you're going to have to try to figure out how to finish that off very quickly, or you just have to forego those points qualifying and find a different path to get the pass next year. 

But one thing I want to point out that that people don't realize is the annual fee that's charged to your card, that counts toward your minimum spend. Then also if these cards come with perks, like you can purchase early boarding orders on Southwest. The way that works, you charge it to the card and then they just credit you back. Those count toward the minimum spend. 

Don't forget about any recurring. I wouldn't put any recurring expenses on there, something that just charges automatically everything month because you can forget about that. I wouldn't give it to anyone else to spend on because they may not realize your plan to not cross over some amount by a certain date. So those are the kinds of things that we see a lot. I even see the flip side. Some people are trying to finish their Companion Pass this year. They'll think they've crossed over the threshold, and then they'll return something. That won't trigger the bonus this year. So you just have to be super careful. Again, if you want to be sure, you can just not meet your minimum spend until after January 1. 

Devon: Yeah, I think what it comes down to kind of all the reasons why someone thinks that they've done the right thing to qualify for a Companion Pass and they haven't, it always comes down to this issue of the timing of when was the minimum spend requirements for those new credit cards met such that the welcome bonus points were actually deposited. The thing that I just want everyone to walk away from this call learning. 

If you hear nothing else, here's what you need to know. You do not want those welcome bonus points for your new Southwest credit cards to post to your account until after January 1 of 2024. Under no circumstances do you want to meet that minimum spend and earn those bonus points at the end of 2023. So even though strategically, I think it does make sense to start applying for those Southwest credit cards now to have them in hand. 

What I think makes the most sense for a lot of people is to go ahead apply for your two Southwest credit cards, if that is the strategy that you want to take, or maybe you just want one new Southwest credit card. Whatever the case may be apply for that new card, get it in hand, and then literally do not touch it until January 1. 

Lyn: Lock it up.

Devon: Yeah, just plan to start spending on it on January 1 because honestly, the cards that we're talking about, any of those personal cards, as Lyn mentioned, they all have this amazing, elevated signup bonus right now of 75,000 welcome bonus points, but they do not require, in my opinion, a huge amount of spend. It's $3,000 total. 

I know for a lot of people, that's not going to take them six months to hit that minimum spend. Like Lyn mentioned, especially around the holiday period, you can hit that amount pretty darn quickly. Even with the business credit cards, one of the business cards has a higher welcome bonus than those personal ones do. 

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance business card has an 80,000 point welcome bonus, at least as of the time of this recording, does require a little bit higher spend to get there. You have to spend $5,000 over three months. But, again, especially if you have this card for business expenses, you can easily have a single business expense that exceeds $5,000. 

So for those of you who are thinking about getting either the personal or the business or two business credit cards from Southwest, apply for them this year. Get approved for them, make sure that you don't have any problems with the actual application part of this process, receive them, do not touch them until January 1. Just start putting the spend on them after January 1. You're still going to be able to meet those minimum spends probably in a relatively short period of time to get up to that 135,000 point threshold.

Because, as Lyn mentioned, if anything goes wrong with that timing, if you, through no fault of your own and very accidentally trigger that welcome bonus before December 31 of this year, you're going to earn the welcome bonus. Those points don't disappear. You'll have them in your account. As Lyn mentioned, you can use them to book flights on Southwest, but you will lose their ability to help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass as of January 1 because that's when that clock resets to zero. 

Lyn, again, I know you've been doing this a long time. You help so many members in your membership with this. So I'm sure you've seen this go sideways a thousand different ways. 

Devon: So many times.

Lyn: One of the things that I wanted to reiterate because in my community as well, a lot of people are interested in earning the Southwest Companion Pass. I see a lot of people who go ahead, apply for it. They understand the logistics that you and I are talking about, about when to apply, when to put the spend on the card ,when to earn the bonuses. Sometimes things still go wrong, which is why I wanted to talk about them so people are aware of it. 

I remember reading a story of someone who had applied and gotten approved for a new Southwest card. They were trying to time their spend. So they knew they did not want to trigger that welcome bonus to be earned in the calendar year they were currently in, in the December calendar year. 

They had put, they had intentionally decided to split up that minimum spend requirement in half. So spend half of it on the card in the current calendar year, I'm just gonna use 2023 as the example because this is how it’d worked out this year if you did that. So let's say you want to put $1,500 on that card in 2023, and then you deliberately know you don't want to put the other $1,500 of minimum spend on the card until January so that the entire welcome bonus gets triggered and deposited in your account in January.

This person had a great plan, right? They understood this is how I want to split up my spend. This is how it's going to work out. What happened was the $1,500 that they spent in the current calendar year was to a vendor for a service, and the vendor accidentally and very innocently submitted the charge twice. They noticed it immediately. The vendor saw when they had processed the charge what had happened, and they immediately rectified the situation on their end in terms of erasing that second charge. 

But as far as Chase was concerned, $3,000 of expenses had been charged to that card. So even though the vendor immediately refunded the second charge, the minimum spend requirement had been met. The person earned their entire you welcome bonus at the very end of the year. As we're talking about, January 1 came, and they had those points in their account to spend, but they were back at zero in terms of earning those qualifying points for the Companion Pass. 

I tell you this story not to terrify you by any means, but just to reiterate the point that even when you do have a plan in place and you understand exactly how you do want to go about earning the welcome bonuses for the cards so that you make sure they fall into your account after January 1, sometimes something completely out of your control happens. That is why I personally think the very best thing you can do is even if you do get approved for these credit cards this year, just do not put any spend on them until January 1. But Lyn, what do you think about that recommendation? 

Lyn: I agree because right. I mean, I agree. We teach everyone. They understand this. Yeah, that's a great example of it's out of your control. Sometimes to your best intentions, it just accidentally happens. It can't accidentally happen if you just don't even touch it until. Just be aware of your three month deadline there too. That's the only thing about holding it till January is maybe you only have till January 10 to finish that off. You just need to make sure you meet it by that deadline or you don't get your bonus points either. 

Even if like something like that happened, we can fix it. Maybe you're traveling companion, if you have one, they get it this time instead. Or maybe we have three cards we can choose from. So you've burned one, but maybe we can work with the other two. So it's not the end of the world, and usually it can be fixed. But it is extremely frustrating. I know. 

Devon: Yes. So, I think that's why I really wanted to spend time with Lyn and take our time walking through kind of what counts, what doesn't count, why is the timing so important because a lot of people do accidentally make mistakes around this area. As Lyn mentioned, there are often still additional avenues that you can pursue in order to earn a Companion Pass, even if you do make a mistake kind of your first time through. But it is so much easier if you can avoid those mistakes by knowing what they are to begin with. 

I really want to thank you, Lyn, for bringing up that point about we don't want to go so far to the end of the other spectrum of missing our opportunity to earn a welcome bonus because we don't put the qualified, the minimum amount of spend, on the card during that qualification period. Which for the Southwest cards, I believe all of them, the personal and the business cards, it's three months right now. But that's why I think the timing of this works out so well because this episode, by the time it airs, y'all are gonna hear this in November. 

So even if you went and you applied for your Southwest cards immediately, you would still have a month and a half into 2024 to qualify for your minimum spend requirements to earn your welcome bonus. So I don't think very many of you at this time of year would be in that position, but it is always a good thing to remember that when you do get approved for a new credit card, you want to make sure that you do meet the minimum spend requirement in the designated amount of time in order to earn those welcome bonus points. 

So Lyn, before we wrap up today, are there any other mistakes that really stand out to you that you have seen in terms of where earning this Companion Pass can kind of go sideways or go wrong that you can share with everyone just so they can put it on their list of things to make sure that they don't do? Or do you think that we've hit the main ones already? 

Lyn: Well, I think the other thing was just don't get caught in the trap of thinking you have to re-earn it every year. So like, let's say you get your pass for 2024 and 2025. In 2025, you don't need to be trying to accumulate 135,000 points for a pass because that pass would only be good through 2026. That's how Southwest phrases it because that's to their benefit. 

You can earn the pass by paying for flights, that's another way. You have to pay for flights, or you'd spend more on the card. Just recognize that your pass is good to the end of 2025. Then you can do what we're talking about and get it early 2026 and have it last through 2027. So I just see an awful lot of people that are like oh, my pass expires this year. So I've got to work on re-earning it next year. That's a big mistake that's making things a lot harder it shortens your pass by half.

Devon: Yeah, that's a great thing to keep in mind because I don't think that credit card companies or airline companies intentionally mislead us about things, but I do find that sometimes the way that they word certain things can be very misleading or can be confusing to understand.

Especially when we're talking about something like the Companion Pass where if you do time it really strategically and correctly, you can hold it for literally like 23 months, right? If you qualify for a Companion Pass in January of 2024, it will be valid for you for 23 months. So you don't have to worry that entire second year that it's entirely valid. Like you don't have to do anything extra that second year in order to be able to maintain it.

Lyn: Well, just don't try to earn your next one that last year. Like, that's a lot of people say okay 2025, I need to re-earn it for 2026, but then that's only a one year pass.

Devon: Yes, exactly. So if you've taken anything away from this episode is that when it comes to the Southwest Companion Pass, timing matters and strategy matters. So I hope that this has helped you all sort of understand what the value of the Companion Pass is. If it is something that you know that you want to qualify for, I hope we've started to make it a little bit easier to understand how exactly to set yourself up to do that and things to keep in mind that you don't want to do so that you accidentally make a mistake in this area. 

Lyn, I want to thank you so much for joining me today, sharing all of your expertise about Southwest and the Companion Pass. For those who are listening and want to learn more about you, what you do, how they can potentially work with you, how can people find you?

Lyn: Sure. So we are at familiestravelfree.com. So we have a lot of good free content on there. Also information about my memberships on there, if you would like help working through this process. Then on social media Families Fly Free. So primarily Instagram and YouTube and then I have a podcast too. That might be the best place to start. That gives you a little bit better sense of my style and the way we approach travel rewards. 

Devon: All right, everybody, and we'll include all of that information, all of those links in the episode show notes so that it'll be very easy for you to find those. Lyn, thank you once again for joining me today. I had so much fun talking to you, so much fun sharing your wisdom, your expertise with everybody. I really appreciate your time. 

Lyn: Yes, so fun. I love talking about this. It's amazing. If you can get this to work, it's truly phenomenal. So.

Devon: All right everybody, you have your marching orders. Go out there and earn your Southwest Companion Passes and have a wonderful time traveling. I'll see you all back here again next week.

Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Point Me to First Class. If you want more tips on turning your expenses into travel, visit pointmetofirstclass.com to learn more. See you next week.

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