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The Southwest Companion Pass is treated by some as the holy grail of travel. The 2-for-1 deal is honestly one of the best travel deals out there. I’m not going to deny that.
But I have realized that it isn’t for everyone. After trying to come up with ways to earn it, and even starting to put spend on my wife’s Southwest card last year toward it, I ditched that plan. I’m over trying to earn the pass. Here’s why:
Having a large family dilutes the deal
If you are a couple, then any 2-for-1 deal is incredibly attractive. Even if you’re a single-child family, you’re still getting 3-for-2. Things start to look much less attractive with a four-person family, unless you’re able to get two companion passes.
With three kids, having a single companion pass isn’t that appealing. I’d rather focus my points earning elsewhere. Since I am waaaay over 5/24, and I recently had my wife start applying for card again (after taking a break for a while), neither of us would be able to pick up the cards needed until well over a year from now. She might be able to get the companion pass in 2019, and me in 2020. Yeah….I’m not going to try to plan that far ahead right now.
Is it worth leaving off other credit card applications in order to earn the pass via sign-up bonuses? Not to me. We earned a passel of points in 2017, and I wouldn’t give those up for a companion pass. If issuers keep getting more strict with approvals, though, I may rethink this plan.
Card spend is just too high
Last year I tried to concoct a plan where I would use manufactured spending, gift card reselling, and normal spend to reach $110,000 in spend on the card for a companion pass. But this proved to be a sufficient barrier to entry that I gave up a couple weeks after starting. We’d have to average $2115 per week on the card. Not really worth doing.
Via the manufactured spending route, there would be a cost. MS is also a pain where I live. It’s doable, but a pain. I’ve pretty much given it up. I used to have a fairly good system down where I could go through $2,000 per week of OneVanilla Visa cards from CVS, cashed out at the USPS. But that route has since died. The cost of the MS, plus the hassle, plus the fact that I didn’t know what our 2018 travel plans would include, killed the plan soon after it launched.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who could figure out a way to put $110,000 on a card in a year. I am not one of them.
I like having options besides flying Southwest
If we had earned the Companion Pass in 2017, especially if we had earned it at a cost, I would have felt compelled to use it enough to make it worth it in 2018. Right now, I’m glad I didn’t. We have a lot of other miles and points, and it is nice to feel like we can use whatever I want.
I enjoy flying Southwest over most other domestic carriers, but there is a barrier to entry to jumping on one of their planes: distance. We can fly United locally, or Alaska and American if we drive 3.5 hours. Flying Southwest means driving a solid 5 hours, something I wouldn’t want to do for every trip.
I’m sure the Southwest Companion pass is the best thing ever for some families. It’s definitely a great deal. But it is one that simply doesn’t fit our family’s needs and I am over it for the time being.