The Southwest Airlines Companion pass is awesome because you can use it for a free ticket when you buy a ticket or use an award ticket. Here are a couple of good ways to get the pass without having to spend a lot or fly a lot to accumulate SWA Rapid Rewards points. You will need 110,000 points for the pass, and it’s good to get those 110k points at the beginning of the year so that the pass will be good all that year and the following year.
Usually, there are several times each year that SWA offers 50k points credit cards- you will need to apply and be approved for a personal and business card in your name, spend $3000 on each card to complete the minimum spend (you will then have 106k points), and then you will need 4k more points (spending, online shopping, flying, etc.) to have enough points for the pass. You can designate a companion online or by phone and you can change your companion up to 3 times before it expires.
When using the pass, you can book an award ticket with your companion’s points or your companion can buy a ticket in your name, then you can add the companion for a free ticket for the companion. You can also use the pass with Air Tran flights if booked on SWA. You cannot use transferred points (from Ultimate Rewards, etc.) towards the companion pass though.
Another great way to get the pass is to wait until there is a Ritz Carlton Credit card offer for 140k points (usually there will be an annual fee $395 for this one, but with some good perks like a $200 airline incidentals credit). You will first need to change your Marriott Rewards membership to a Ritz Carlton Rewards membership by calling Marriott. You and a spouse can each change your Marriott Rewards to RC Rewards, then both apply for the RC credit card to accumulate 280k points. Then call Marriott to combine points. Do not transfer these points directly to SWA since the transfer ratio is not good. Then get a hotel and air package through Marriott (see options online). For example, for 280k points, you can get 7 nights at a category 6 hotel and 100k SWA Rapid Rewards points, which is almost enough for a companion pass. You can opt for a 7 night certificate which you can use within a year if you don’t want to reserve the hotel right away, but the points should transfer within a few days. These points do count towards the companion pass.
Another great way to leverage credit cards for travel!