Earning the SouthWest Companion Pass

Yes the Southwest Companion Pass is the MOST valuable flight reward available on any airline. Once you earn it your companion flies free with you anytime, anywhere Southwest flies. That is true whether you are paying for tickets with money or points. So think about that. You schedule a free roundtrip flight on Southwest with your points and your companion flies free with you………that’s two free flights anywhere Southwest flies………okay so how can you earn the Companion Pass.

You can earn the Southwest Companion Pass by flying 100 one-way segments. Okay, who does that? Anyone flying that much probably doesn’t want to fly on vacation. No, but thank goodness I don’t fly that much for business and probably most of you don’t either. So fortunately there is a much better way to earn the companion pass and that is by earning 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year. The easiest way isn’t by flying but rather by spending money on a Southwest credit card.

Now you are thinking who is going to spend $110,000 in one year on a credit card. Excellent question and certainly not me nor most of us. So here is the trick, when you sign up for a Southwest credit card they often offer 50,000 points for getting their new credit card. So let’s say you get a new card and spend $5,000 on it. Now you have a quick 55,000 Southwest points and you need 55,000 more and you will have the companion pass. Who spends $55,000 on a credit card in one year? My wife would like to, but that’s too steep for us and probably most people, so how about this. Southwest actually has 4 different credit cards, two personal cards and two business cards, all of which at times during the year have that 50,000 point bonus offers. So now the trick is just apply for and get your second Southwest card, spend $5,000 on it and you just earned the Southwest Companion Pass.

Now before you run off to apply for two cards let me give you a couple of other tricks to be aware of:

Rest of this year PLUS the next year
Once you earn the Companion Pass it is good for the rest of that year plus the entire next year. If you earn it in say December of 2016 it will be good for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017. While that is wonderful, what is even better is to earn the Companion Pass at the first of the year. Earn it in January of 2017 and the pass is good for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018. Now doing it all in one month might be difficult, but you get the idea. Do it early in the year so that you have the Companion Pass for as much of two years as possible.

Whose Points
Remember you and your spouse can both do this, but you probably don’t want to do it at the same time. You can do it personally and cover two years, then have your spouse do it to cover the next two years and so on.

Business Cards
Two of the four Southwest cards are business cards. This isn’t a bad thing and really anyone can qualify for a business card when your business is an official corporation, llc, or a sole proprietership OR even if you are just thinking about starting or having a little business on the side.

3x Spending
As with most credit cards you receive a point for every dollar spent and sometimes up to 3x points depending on what you are buying. Of course their incentive is for you to spend money with Southwest so that’s when you earn 3x points.

How I bought 6 round trip tickets to Kauai for $10/each

Too good to be true you think?  Well it’s not, I will show you the receipt and I will show you how to fly to Kauai for $10.  Yes, you can do it to.  If you don’t want to do it yourself I will be glad to help you do it!

Kauai

How it began:  Our family has been dreaming of an extended vacation (10 days) to Kauai  in 2013.  There could be as many as eight of us going.  As of now there are six going for sure. Accomplishing this is not an easy task and certainly not easy on the wallet.  When you consider that round trip tickets to Kauai during “non-school” times have reached the $600 – $800 level, it’s expensive.  The obvious math is 6 x $700 you’re at $4200 for

I began my search looking at flights to Kauai from Las Vegas, because Hawaiian Airlines flies out of Las Vegas.  What I discovered is that the best price/points for a round trip ticket to Kauai is 34,500 points.  That is not a lot of points when you compare similar round trips on airlines such as  Delta that can be 60,000 or more.  So the question became how do I get 34,500 points on Hawaiian Air when I’ve never even flown that airline before.

Hawaiian Air Credit Cards

My first 70,000 Hawaiian Air points came from applying for two Hawaiian Airline credit cards.  I applied for both on the same day and both cards offered a 35,000 point sign-up bonus.  One card is through Bank of America and the other card is through Hawaiian Bank.  These bonus awards are not short-term promotions, but rather standard point bonuses for these cards.  Each card required a minimum of $2,000 purchase in a four month period.  My wife and I simply put away our other credit cards and used these two cards.  It was easy to reach the qualified spending amount.

The second 70,000 Hawaiian Air points came thanks to American Express.  American Express ran a special offering 75,000 points to sign-up for their Gold Card.  I already had the card, but not my wife, so she signed up. We thought her being approved would be a long shot, but she was.  She received the 75,000 points after spending $10,000 over a four month period. Hawaiian Miles allows you to transfer American Express miles to your Hawaiian Miles account for a 1-to-1 exchange.  So, with my wife’s points we now had 145,000 Hawaiian Mile points.

American Express

The third 70,000 Hawaiian Air points came from my business American Express card that had over 100,000 points on it.  It’s a card I have used for years with my businesses and with those accumulated points I did a 1:1 transfer to Hawaiian Miles.

We now had 210,000 Hawaiian Miles are were able to purchase 6 round trip tickets to Kauai for $10 in travel fees………………you gotta love that.  Below you will find a copy of the six purchased tickets.  We are  looking forward to this trip to Kauai.  Be sure to sign-up for the blog so that you will be notified when additional details are available.

Six tickets to Kauai for $10 each

Roundtrip to Kauai for $10

Round trip to Kauai $10 a ticket

Travel Points through Credit Cards

The best way to acquire travel points toward your trip to Hawaii is through credit card sign-up bonuses and spending.  I’ve shared some tips already about how to do this and the cards that will get you the most travel points toward flights and lodging in Hawaii.  In many way I’m just a beginner is this area and there is so much to learn, and many people that have been doing this for years and “churn” many cards each year.

The basic strategy is this, sign-up for credit cards when they offer the most bonus points, typically from 25,000 to 75,000 points.  Usually the bonus points come with a requirement to spend on that card, which may be as simple as making at least one transaction on the card or spending a few thousand within 120 days.  Once that requirement is made the bonus points show up in your account.  Additional travel points can be earned by continuing to spend on that card.  You might receive one travel point for every dollar you spend or even more points for each dollar spent on certain items.

The advanced strategy is to take the basic strategy above, do it with many cards, collecting the points, the cancelling the card and repeating the process again.  Timing things of course in a way that allows you to do this.  There are those who do 20+ credit cards each year earning millions of miles.

Our family is taking it a bit slower, being careful to figure this out and not overdoing it to start with.  We each have applied for a few cards, and our older children have done a couple of cards.  All of them help us in some way or the other to travel to Hawaii, although we have benefited from the points in many other ways as well.  Just as one example, we were able to travel to Los Angeles to support our oldest son at his final MPSF conference swimming championship meet.

In February we were able to fly six of us, round trip, from SLC to LAX for free.  We then stayed three nights, two of which were free, at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles.  All of this made possible by the wonderful bonus points available though sign-up bonuses for South West credit cards and our regular spending habits and patronage of Marriott.

Yes, you do have to have good credit and yes you do have to keep a careful eye on the due dates and make sure you pay-off all your credit cards on time.  That’s why we only actively use a couple of credit cards and we always pay them off in full each month.

This is my new hobby and passion, figuring out how to travel for free or for little money by leveraging bonus points on credit cards and through other methods.  We want to make Hawaii an annual trip!

Aloha

Southwest Airlines and Hawaii

I love Southwest airlines for many reasons, and if you want to fly affordably you will too.  Southwest makes it easy to earn bonus points on credit cards as well as being generous with points earned for spending on the credit cards.  Unlike any other airline I am aware of Southwest allows you to change flights at no charge, they don’t provide a cash refund, but you have up to a year to use those funds on another Southwest flight.  Southwest also has no fees for your first two bags, something that is difficult to find on any other airline.  It is rumored that Southwest will be adding Hawaii to their route list at some point, and that will be exciting………………but it doesn’t appear that will happen in time for any of us to use for  trips to Hawaii this year.

Southwest however, will get you to the West Coast which then means lower cost and fewer points on another airline to Hawaii. Just looking real quick at Hawaiian Airlines for  August of this year, I’m seeing $222/one-way or 25,000 points from San Diego. Be sure to look at LAX, San Jose, Oakland, Seattle and Las Vegas. A couple months ago it was 17,400 points from Las Vegas to Kauai one-way.

The two Hawaiian Airline credit cards will get you 35,000 points each which is 70,000 points and if you and your spouse do it that will give you 140,000 points which is just about 3 tickets at this price. I checked prices real quick so I’m hoping with some effort you can find better as well.

I just looked at similar dates for round trip flights out of Salt Lake City and they are an unbelievable $800+ right now.  If nothing else use Southwest to get to the West Coast to save 50% of the cost of a ticket.

Affordable airfare to Hawaii – Round trip from San Diego for $328.99

Affordable airfare to Hawaii might sound impossible, but I’ve noticed this fall that it’s possible to find.  Of course the children are in school, but Fall Break is coming up and if you really want to go, this price is quite the deal from San Diego.  Yes, it is affordable airfare to Hawaii from San Diego, so if you don’t live in San Diego how do you get there?   Well you can drive or save your points and fly SouthWest.  If you’ve been saving SouthWest points you might be able to get there for free.  This is my strategy for this coming August when I take the entire family to Hawaii……..we plan to fly from San Diego or other West Coast City where there seems to be affordable airfare to Hawaii.


Select Your Travel Dates and find affordable airfare to Hawaii

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By setting up alerts with various airlines you be notified when their are affordable airfare to Hawaii.  This is how I was notified of this price from San Diego.

Families Fly Free to Hawaii

Does families fly free to Hawaii, sound impossible? By leveraging Hawaiian Miles, and new credit card sign-ups a family of eight can fly free to Hawaii.  As I have mentioned before I am working on a August 2013 two week trip to Hawaii from our family of 8.  One of the biggest potential costs of course is airfare.  During that prime time in the summer from Salt Lake City, round-trip flights can be$700+.  Well Hawaiian Airlines and Hawaiian Miles + Las Vegas may be the incredibly easy answer.

Checking my Hawaiian Miles account yesterday revealed that I have 36,000 miles, soon to 76,000 miles………………and I haven’t ever flown on Hawaiian Air.  I did though as I described in a previous post, sign-up for both the Bank of America and Hawaiian Bank airline credit cards which both offer a 35,000 point bonus.

So what does 75,000 miles in HawaiinMiles get you?  Well checking Las Vegas to Kauai (where we want to go), for next August shows roundtrip miles required 35,000.  That means I will soon have 2 round-trip tickets, at basically  no cost…………unbelievable and such a good deal that I am having my daughter (21), my wife and then my son (23) sign-up for those credit cards.  Assuming that all works out we will have our 8 free trickets from LV to Kauai………….Wow.

Even if that doesn’t all work for all four of us, as part of the first year sign-up, you are able to get 50% discount on a companion pass.  That means I could spend the $450 on one ticket and get the second for $225.00.  Not a bad deal either.  That option is available for both credit cards, meaning that I could get four people to Kauai for $1350 which is approximately $350/person.  That is Las Vegas to Kauai, not just Honolulu.

I am sooooo excited!



 

Why Southwest Airlines is my new favorite airline

Southwest Airlines is by far my new favorite airline.  Yes, I know you don’t get an assigned seat, but all the positives, especially the help it provides getting to Hawaii, is worth it.  Let’s talk other positives first:

  • No Change Fee – wow, only domestic airline I know that is like this.  You can change a flight for no cost, they don’t give you back your money, but you can change to another Southwest flight at no charge (up to a year)………..that rocks, you think you might want to fly somewhere, make a reservation at the best price and you can always change it later……………
  • Bags are Free – No cost for the first and second bags you check.
  • Low Prices – Southwest flights are typically the lowest fare between most of the cities I look at.  Not always, but usually it’s one of the lower fares which also means it takes fewer points to fly for free.
  • Website – I find their website easy to use, easy to book and easy to see how many points it will take to fly.  It’s a little annoying that most “combined” airfare watch programs don’t include Southwest, but I simply make it a habit to check their website after checking a consolidator.
Now let’s talk about how Southwest can help you get to Hawaii………
  • Hawaii – No direct service to Hawaii yet, but that is certainly in the rumor mill and appears to be just a matter of time.  Even without that service Southwest flies to most of the west coast cities that then provide killer deals to Hawaii.
  • Credit Card and Frequent Flyer Points – The Southwest credit card is well worth signing up for when you get 50,000 points.  When I signed up about 6 months ago, the only requirement was a single purchase.  My son received his card just this week and his requirement is $1,000 spend in four months…………my wife is taking care of that for him  Either way, it’s well worth it when round trip SLC to San Diego flights can be as low as 16,000 points…………..in fact less than that.  I just checked round-trip flights from SLC to San Diego on Southwest and each way the minimum points required is 6,840 for a total of 13,680 total points for a round trip ticket to San Diego.  That means will a single credit card sign-up bonus of 50,000 will get me 3 complete round-trip tickets and almost a fourth.
  • Earning Frequent Flyer Points – They also have a myriad of ways to accumulate points as you purchase other items and services.  I need to experiment here and see which items work best, but they are constantly pushing their shopping portal with specials for accumulating points.

Hawaiian Miles Frequent Flyer Program

HawaiianMiles can help your family travel for less to Hawaii.  HawaiinMileis is Hawaiian airlines frequent flyer program.  You might think that it’s not worth signing up for because you don’t live in Hawaii and don’t ever fly the airline, but that would be short sighted.  If you plan to travel to Hawaii and if you want to travel between islands while you are there, you should join Hawaiian Miles.

 Redeeming Miles

Inter-island travel can require as few as 7,500 miles for a one-way ticket.  That means if you fly into Honolulu and then want to take a jaunt to Kauai and back you could do so for as little as 15,000 miles.  So how do you earn HawaiianMiles without flying on Hawaii Airlines?

Earning Miles

The quickest and easiest way to earn HawaiianMiles is to sign-up for two Hawaiian Airline credit cards which can net you 70,000 points alone and 140,000 if two of you do it.  Just think, 70,000 points could equal as much as four round trip island tickets.  Not bad at all.  HawaiianMiles also gives you many other ways to earn miles, including spending on the visa card, searching online and of course traveling.

Share, Transfer or Purchase

A convenient feature of HawaiianMiles is the ability to share the miles with family and friends at no cost if you have the visa card.  This allows you to pool, or combine your miles to access you awards.

 

70,000 – 140,000 Hawaiian Airline Points

Without too much effort you can acquire 70,000 – 140,000 Hawaiian Airline points that will help you with travel between islands once you are in Hawaii, or between mainland U.S. and Hawaii.  In our upcoming trip to Hawaii, we plan to visit both Kauai and Maui as a family of 7, so that can be expensive even between islands.  I am planning on using Avios points to get from the mainland to Hawaii and then Hawaiian Airline points to get between islands.  Each credit card is similar, but from two different banks, Bank of Hawaii and Bank of America.  I would suggest doing them both at the same time like I did.  They have similar requirements to get your 70,000 points.  I am going to have my wife apply as well for the same two cards and see if we can get 140,000 points.

  • 20,000 bonus points with 1st purchase
  • 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within 4 months
The links for both cards are:
I found the application for these cards to be simple and straightforward to complete.  I sat down and completed both applications in the same night and received immediate approval  on one and had to wait a few days on the other.  Remember these are two distinct banks that both provide points to the same Hawaiian Miles account.  I know of no quicker way to generate Hawaiian Airline points than by collecting bonus points from these two credit cards.

Award Wallet

What are you going to do now that you have multiple credit cards and many frequent traveler accounts and award programs.  Add to that your wife and children who are signing up and now it’s a real chore to keep track of.

The first step to ensure you are maximizing your award points is using Award Wallet.  I came across Award Wallet a few months ago and it’s a time and point saver.  It connects to your travel and credit card award accounts, and helps you keep track of and manage your points in one place.  Just having all your points in one place is a benefit.  Many of the sites will let Award Wallet login automatically and keep it updated for you.  Others you will have to update manually which is a pain, but at least it’s doable.  Award Wallet provides a  dashboard that will help you manage your reward points better.

You can also connect and manage accounts for the others in your family, but wherever we travel I have my children track their points as well.  I used to lose their numbers and login inofrmation, but now I can keep it all in one place.  I have done the most traveling in our family, but I have had my wife and children sign up whenever we fly to make sure they are accumulating points.