The 5 Best Credit Cards With Airline Companion Tickets
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For as long as I can remember, the standard sign-up bonus for a rewards credit card has been a "free flight." Yet the truth is that these award flights are no longer free. Between reduced award availability and increased taxes and fees, this benefit has steadily become less valuable. Nevertheless, there is one credit card perk that, while not free, is actually gaining in value. The offer of a companion ticket — a free or discounted ticket for someone traveling with you on the same flight — will always be worth more as airline ticket prices rise. At the same time, it is important to note that all companion tickets are not created equal. Let's take a look at the top credit cards that feature an airline companion ticket offer. (See also: The Best Travel Rewards Cards)
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card does not offer companion passes directly; it just makes it faster to earn one. First, sign up for the card and enjoy a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Rapid Rewards® points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account. Also get 6,000 points after your Cardmember Anniversary. These points count toward the 110,000 points necessary to earn a companion pass that is valid until the end of the following year.
Unlike other passes that are only good for one ticket, once this Southwest pass is earned, travelers can use it for unlimited free travel for a companion on both paid and award flights. So if you buy a flight for yourself, or redeem points for an award, your companion flies free. Therefore, the value of this pass is limited only by the amount of traveling you do. There is a $99 annual fee.
British Airways Visa Signature Card
Not only did Chase make waves with the British Airways Visa Signature® Card by offering a big sign-up bonus (currently 50,000 Avios after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening, plus an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend $10,000 on purchases for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios), but they give you the opportunity to earn a free companion award they call their "Travel Together" ticket. Cardholders receive this when they spend $30,000 in purchases on their British Airways Visa card within a calendar year. When booking an award flight operated by British Airways, the Travel Together ticket can be redeemed for a second seat for no additional points and is good for two years. Unfortunately, the second person will have to pay additional taxes and fuel surcharges. Since these charges can equal the cost of a coach ticket, using this companion certificate only makes sense when flying in business or first class. Cardholders also earn 3 Avios for every dollar spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios on other purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee is $95.
Miles & More Premier World MasterCard
Barclay's Miles & More Premier World Mastercard offers an annual companion ticket after the first purchase, and each year after that. Cardholders earn two miles per $1 spent on airline partner tickets, and one mile per $1 spent on other purchases. Miles can be redeemed for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners. There are no foreign transaction fees and includes online FICO Credit Score Access. There is an annual fee of $79, waived for Senator and HON Circle Members.
Sign up offer: Earn 20,000 miles after your first purchase.
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card
Cardholders receive an annual $99 coach Companion Fare. The pass can be used on any paid flight in coach. Cardholders also earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets and Vacation Packages, as well as inflight purchases, and 1 mile for every $1 spent on other purchases. There is no mileage cap and miles won't expire. There is a $75 annual fee.
Sign up offer: Earn 25,000 miles upon approval.
Applying for a credit card with a companion ticket offers can be a great way to slash your travel costs nearly in half. By focusing on the best offers out there, and dismissing the ones of questionable value, you can ensure that you will not be disappointed when it comes time to book that half price vacation with your favorite travel companion.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.