The culmination of 7 months of pure dedication to the miles and points game paid off huge dividends this January. Sure, in half of 2012 I received 75K British Airways Miles, $400 Straight-Cash-Homey, 40K Ultimate Rewards (to be transferred into United, British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott or many other partners), $1,060 worth of hotel rooms at Hyatt, and 90K Hilton points. Not too shabby. However, my January credit card churn makes that look like child’s play. I’ll go into the 100K American Airlines miles in my next post (140K if American merges with US Airways since I also received 40K US Airways Miles). But today I am going to share what I think is one of the best deals out there: The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass (SWACP).
The SWACP allows your designated companion to fly with you for free on any paid or award trip. Going 322 miles to Chicago on a Wanna Get Away fare? 2 for the price of 1. Going 1,975 miles to San Diego on an Anytime fare? 2 for the price of 1. Going to Baltimore every other weekend so nspfiance can see first-hand the color of linens, flowers, and salt shakers? 2 for the price of 1.
How does one qualify for such an awesome item as the SWACP? You must earn 110,000 points in a calendar year. As you might have guessed by being the only italizied word in the previous sentence, the key word there is earn. What exactly does earn mean? Well, you can earn points by either flying or utilizing SWA partners. So, how did I earn 110,000 by February 2nd, only 32 days into the year?
- I transferred 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points (valued at $100 cash, or roughly $230 in travel) to Hyatt. The conversion rate meant that I received 4,800 Hyatt points (instant transfer). I then transferred the 4,800 Hyatt points to my SWA account. It took roughly 5 days, but I then earned 4,800 SWA points towards the Companion Pass. Phew, 4% of the way there.
- I signed up for a Southwest Airlines Personal Card through a link I found online. While this link is not directly from Southwest’s web site, it was a link that is still advertised throughout the web. The sign-up bonus for this card? 50K Points after $2K spend. While I needed to renew my car insurance (thank you for accepting credit cards) and had a few other expenses, I loaded up my Bluebird Prepaid Card with Vanilla Reloads from CVS, costing me $11.85 to pay my rent and monthly car payment, and BAM. Minimum spend hit. Not a bad way to earn 50K points. Phew, 51% of the way there
- I signed up for a Southwest Airlines Business Card through a link i found online. While this link is not directly from Southwest’s web site, it was a link that is still advertised throughout the web (sound familiar?). The sign-up bonus for this card? 50K points after $2K spend (sound familiar?). What is my business, you ask? Well, you are reading it. In full disclosure, I plan on touting credit cards through this web site and selling some adspace (for the 3+ people who read this blog). While I certainly don’t expect to quit my day-job, I do hope to make some side cash while living the dream and helping others to do so as well. What are my business expenses? Anything travel-related. I went to “that city down south” in ohio last weekend to watch Michigan play ohio in basketball. Gas/f&b/hotel, all blog-related expenses. My stay at the Hilton Garden Inn yielded me 2X points for registering for their 2X Promotion this quarter. Nice. Sorry, where was I. Oh ya, SWA Business card. After expenses from last weekend’s trip, this weekend’s trip to Ann Arbor and purchases for a trip to Tulum, Mexico, I picked up $800 in AMEX Pre-Paid cards that I can use at a later date for work-related-travel-expenses, and BAM. Minimum spend hit (sound familiar?). Not a bad way to earn 50K points. Phew, 100% of the way there.
After a couple hundred more dollars in spend on my Personal card, a quick call to Chase to ask them to move my statement dates up to the next possible date (so the points hit my SWA account sooner), and I’m at 110,070 points. Now, let’s examine this a little closer…
It is February 2nd, 2013. The Companion Pass is valid for the year you earn it AND the entire next year. So, as of February 2nd, 2013, nspfiance and I fly 2-for-1 until December 31, 2014 – 23 full months! The 110,070 points are enough for at least 4 round-trip tickets – and the SWACP can be used on Award Tickets!
That’s 8 round-trip tickets for a total of $368 (2 $69 Annual Fees + opportunity cost of transferring my Ultimate Rewards). I’m expecting to go on at least 10 additional Southwest trips over the next 23 months, and at an average price of $175, it’s looking like the $368 is going to net me about $3,150 in value.
If only United or American could let you earn elite status like that…