Southwest Companion Pass: Best travel options using sign-up bonus miles

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    Travel and cards writer
    Travel expert who writes the “Have Cards, Will Travel” column for CreditCards.com

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    The Southwest Companion Pass has long been one of the best values in reward travel, and it has never been easier to get than right now.

    Why? Because the coveted perk is now included in
    the sign-up bonus on the Southwest
    Rapids Rewards Plus Credit Card
    , the Southwest
    Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
    and the Southwest
    Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
    .

    You can’t beat bringing along a friend for free
    anywhere you fly, but to really get value from this benefit you’ll want to
    understand where the Southwest Companion Pass can actually take you.

    See related: Southwest cards’ new sign-up bonuses offer a fast track to the Companion Pass

    How to leverage Southwest’s Companion Pass

    While Southwest has routes across 40 states to
    get you and your plus-one anywhere domestically, the real value of the Companion
    Pass comes from leveraging the further-afield sweet spots on their route map.

    Southwest flies to 13 of what I’d consider to be aspirational
    destinations worth putting on your Companion Pass bucket list.


    You’ll also want to remember that the “buy one
    get one” deal works with both points and paid tickets.

    If you’re good at earning
    and redeeming Rapid Rewards points
    , essentially two people get to fly for
    just a handful of miles plus the out-of-pocket cost of the taxes!

    5 international destinations to visit using the Southwest Companion Pass

    Here are five amazing low-cost international trips you and a
    friend could take this year by leveraging your companion pass with Rapid
    Rewards points:

    1. Experience all-inclusive Mexico

    Southwest
    flies to three of Mexico’s most popular
    all-inclusive destinations
    . With Cabo, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta on the
    route map, Mexico is a convenient getaway no matter in which part of the states
    your travel originates.

    • A three-day getaway from my home in Portland to
      Cabo (SJC) currently prices out for as low as 16,380 Rapid Rewards points.
    • This includes a return trip on Southwest’s low
      cost “Wanna Get Away” fares, plus $90.15 in international taxes.
    • The points cover both tickets, and you’ll pay
      the taxes for each person.

    Pair
    your flights with points
    from any of the IHG Rewards credit cards
    to stay at one of the
    all-inclusive Holiday Inn resort properties, or use World
    of Hyatt points
    for a visit to the Hyatt
    Ziva Los Cabos
    or adults-only Hyatt Zilhara properties.

    2. Check off a new Caribbean country

    Nip
    away for a quick trip to a Caribbean island. Discover the beaches of Punta Cana
    in the Dominican Republic, rent a motorbike to zip around Nassau in the Bahamas,
    or go for a snorkel in the Montego Bay Marine Park in Jamaica.

    From
    the East Coast, the Caribbean is a cheap and easy destination to hit with Rapid
    Rewards points.

    3. Go Dutch on two flights to Aruba

    Still
    considered the Caribbean but nearly all the way to South America, the island of
    Aruba is a great Dutch colonial getaway and outdoor wonderland for watersports,
    hiking and hanging out on a beach with pink flamingos.

    • Flights from Chicago, Midway to Aruba (AUA) go
      as low as 14,508 points and $90.43/per person in taxes.
    • Compare that to the “Wanna Get Away” cash rate
      of $514 for the same flight, or $1028 for two, and you’ll easily see why the Companion
      Pass can make international travel for two a steal even at Southwest’s already
      low prices.

    Accommodation
    with points is easy to come by in Aruba since the island hosts over a million
    visitors a year.


    4. Live the ‘pura vida’
    in Costa Rica

    With
    flights to both San Jose and Liberia, Southwest
    has both coasts of Costa Rica covered. Take your pick of volcanos, cloud
    forests, rainforests, or hit la playa for surf and sun.

    • Traveling from the Southwest hub at Dallas, Love
      Field (DAL), the best fares on flights to Liberia (LIR) go as low as 20,280
      points round trip with taxes of $81.10.
    • If you had to pay for these flights, they would cost
      $392 per person.

    There’s
    plenty of options to use your reward points to cover your accommodation in
    Costa Rica.

    • The Andaz
      Papagayo
      is a favorite on the Pacific side at just 15,000 World of Hyatt
      Points a night.
    • Remember that you can stay three free nights on
      the World
      of Hyatt Credit Card
      sign-up bonus – including minimum spend – alone.

    5. Dive into the Blue
    Hole of Belize

    If you’re into the underwater world, Belize is probably
    already on your bucket list.

    Southwest flies into Belize City which is just a quick and
    cheap (90 minutes/$18) water taxi to Ambergris Caye, your base to dive or
    snorkel the famous Blue Hole or the Belize Great Barrier
    Reef
    .

    • “Want to Get Away” points rates for March are
      currently 17,628 points with taxes of $83.43 per person ($167 for two).
    • Compare this with the cheapest available cash
      rate on the same day of $361 per person or ($722 for two­) – you’ll be saving
      $555 with the Companion Pass.


    Mahogany
    Bay Resort and Beach Club
    , a part of the Hilton Curio Collection, is a
    great place to sleep on Ambergris Caye. Use the points you’ve racked up with 6x
    grocery shopping on your Hilton
    Honors American Express Ascend Card
    .

    More travel options with Southwest Companion Pass

    Want to squeeze even more travel value from the Companion Pass?
    Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman, and Havana are all options to
    add to your list too.

    Plus, Southwest is in the process of adding flights to four
    Hawaiian Islands as soon as they get FAA approval.

    While the Companion Pass is always available as a reward for
    any Southwest flyer who earns 110,000 Rapid Rewards points per year, you need
    to hurry if you want the fast track option. The Companion Pass sign-up bonus offer
    on Southwest cards ends Feb 11.



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