The Southwest Companion Go — the important thing to buy-one-get-one airline tickets for you and a cherished one — is the stuff of vacationers’ desires. And mine got here true in early 2020, after I lastly earned one in all my very own. But my journey aspirations had been shortly dashed when COVID-19 took journey largely off the desk in 2020.
The Southwest Companion Pass is a much-coveted perk. Each time you ebook a flight with money or factors whereas holding the move, you possibly can select a companion to fly with you for almost free (simply pay the price of taxes and charges, which begin at simply $5.60 a technique). The problem is incomes it.
There are two methods to earn the Southwest Companion Go:
Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar yr.
These appeared like lofty objectives. In actual fact, many individuals in the end earn it by a mixture of frequent flying and thru a Southwest credit card sign-up bonus, reminiscent of for the Southwest Speedy Rewards® Plus Credit score Card: Earn as much as 80,000 factors. Earn 50,000 factors after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Earn a further 30,000 factors after you spend $10,000 on purchases within the first 9 months.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t assured I’d spend sufficient on Southwest airfare — even with the assistance of the welcome bonus.
However a golden alternative got here in early 2020, when Southwest introduced a brand new intro supply on its Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 70,000 factors after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn a further 30,000 factors after you spend $25,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.
How I bought the large sign-up bonus
There’s little question $25,000 is a big amount of cash to spend, however — for higher or for worse — I used to be set to spend it. Individually from my job at NerdWallet, I run a small enterprise. My drone enterprise referred to as for bills together with new drones to assessment, annual skilled membership renewals, hosting charges and an enormous tax invoice.
Opposite to most traditional recommendation, I went forward and racked up $306.29 in bank card processing charges between Pay1040 and Plastiq en path to assembly the $25,000 spending requirement. Couple that with the $199 annual charge, and I used to be successfully paying about $500 to earn the Southwest Companion Go.
Projected worth of my $500 Companion Go ($4,350)
Would you pay $500 for a Southwest Companion Go? On the time, it appeared like a no brainer. Right here’s how the numbers shook out:
Estimated worth earned from Companion Go airfare ($2,700)
2020 was set to be a busy yr of flying for me and my boyfriend (who can be my companion). Amongst our journey plans:
Spherical-trip flights for a pal’s marriage ceremony in Malibu, California, in July (estimated worth: $150).
Spherical-trip flights for a pal’s marriage ceremony in Temecula, California, in September ($150).
Spherical-trip flights to Orange County, California, to go to household for the vacations ($200).
These had been my solely set-in-stone plans. Then I calculated the price of hypothetical journey primarily based on tough estimations:
A visit to St. Louis to go to my mother (estimated worth: $250).
A summer time trip to Hawaii ($300).
A piece journey to New York, the place my boyfriend would tag alongside ($300).
Whole estimated worth of Companion Go airfare in 2020: $1,350.
And that’s solely accounting for 2020; the Companion Go is nice for the rest of the yr during which you earned it plus the next full calendar yr (in my case, that’s by 2021). I’ll estimate my airfare prices can be roughly related in 2021.
Whole estimated worth of Companion Go airfare in 2021: $1,350.
Whole estimated mixed worth of Companion Go airfare in 2020 and 2021: $2,700.
Worth of sign-up bonus ($1,600)
The sign-up bonus on the Southwest Speedy Rewards® Efficiency Enterprise Credit score Card is as follows: Earn 70,000 factors after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn a further 30,000 factors after you spend $25,000 on purchases within the first 6 months. Based mostly on NerdWallet estimates, the sign-up bonus is price $1,600.
Worth of different cardholder advantages ($50)
I’m in all probability going to lowball this one in comparison with most individuals, however I don’t discover the extra advantages on the Southwest Speedy Rewards® Efficiency Enterprise Credit score Card to be that compelling.
There’s a International Entry or TSA Precheck charge credit score (price $100), although I have already got that. You’re entitled to 4 upgraded boardings yearly (when out there), however I desire being the final to board anyway. You get 365 annual in-flight Wi-Fi credit, however sluggish airplane web makes me really feel extra anxious than productive, so I often don’t find yourself signing in anyway.
I’ll peg the cardholder advantages at $50, for the couple instances I muster up the braveness to log in to airplane Wi-Fi.
Precise worth of my Companion Go, to this point ($1,807)
As early-2020 me debated whether or not it was price incomes the Southwest Companion Go, the reply appeared apparent. In change for $500 in charges, I’d obtain about $4,350 within the type of almost free airfare, Speedy Rewards factors and different cardholder extras.
But in April, my Companion Go arrived — simply in regards to the time we realized that momentary lockdowns initiated in March wouldn’t finish anytime quickly.
By Might, the primary marriage ceremony on my schedule was canceled utterly. In June, the second marriage ceremony was postponed indefinitely. I by no means visited my mother in Missouri, and we by no means took that journey to Hawaii.
Worth earned from Companion Go airfare ($199)
My boyfriend and I did use the Companion Go as soon as — we flew to Salt Lake Metropolis over the summer time to discover Utah and Arizona’s national parks. His airfare would have in any other case value $199.
We’ve no different plans to journey and don’t know once we’ll use the Companion Go once more.
Worth of sign-up bonus ($1,600)
I now have a tidy stash of Southwest Speedy Rewards factors, although. Assuming that Speedy Rewards factors aren’t topic to devaluation within the quick future, that’s financial savings within the rewards financial institution. When journey resumes, I’ll use my factors to pay for my airfare.
Worth of different cardholder advantages ($8)
I took one different flight: an emergency journey to go to a member of the family (my boyfriend didn’t be a part of). I didn’t use the upgraded boarding, as middle seats were blocked anyway. I did go surfing to the Wi-Fi, which usually prices $8, to ship some Slacks to my editor.
Was my quest to earn the Companion Go price it?
I’ve nonetheless netted about $1,300 in worth after accounting for all of the charges I paid to get the Companion Go, regardless of my boyfriend utilizing it solely as soon as this yr.
Fortunately my effort clearly wasn’t as a lot of a waste of money and time because it might have been, however the entire ordeal continues to be a reminder that no bank card profit is a assure — as is the case with nearly another membership program.
At the least one of these annual move has me hopeful I’ll use it once more. When secure journey resumes, you possibly can wager we’ll attempt to take all these journeys we misplaced out on in 2020. COVID-19 may need ruined my Companion Go in 2020, however I’ll greater than make up for it in 2021.
The way to Maximize Your Rewards
You need a journey bank card that prioritizes what’s vital to you. Listed here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, together with these finest for: