For Christmas this year, we are taking a family vacation to Vieques, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. AND we all four (husband + two grown sons) are flying there for $500 on Southwest Airlines. How can we do that, you ask? Ta da ~ the companion pass from Southwest Airlines, where your companion flies with you FREE (well actually $10 for taxes/fees)! You can pay for flights with either points or money, and I chose to pay money for some of our flights because it was too many points for the schedule I wanted. So I essentially could have gotten these round trip tickets for $40 plus points. Points vary per ticket according to the schedule and the base price of the ticket.
In order to qualify for a companion pass, you need 110,000 SW points in a calendar year. The Chase SW credit card had an offer earlier this year for 50,000 bonus points and I got two cards. (Southwest is allowing bonus points from a credit card sign up to count for the companion pass). Since I had to charge $2,000 within three months on each card in order to get the bonus, all I needed were 6,000 more points. (52,000+52,000=104,000). Per the blog, Million Mile Secrets, I then bought 18,000 Choice hotel points, which transferred to 5,400 SW points. It might sound complicated, but it was simple and worked great! The beauty of this little known perk is that after you have accrued all these points, you can now use them for travel, and the companion pass is good for two years after you first qualify, so my husband’s is good until the end of 2014.
Unfortunately, the Chase card offer for 50,000 points is no longer available. But don’t despair, it will be back and I will alert you when it does return!
Sorry, I won’t have internet on this trip, but I will give you a full trip report when I return. So have a wonderful, restful, safe, and happy holiday with your family and loved ones!