Oh, the places I can go. . . (with my companion!) - Smart Money Seed

6/29/18

Oh, the places I can go. . . (with my companion!)

I don't normally brag, but if bragging means I might be able to motivate you to go out and get a companion pass, then I'm going to brag! I've already shared how I went about earning the pass, but now I'm going to show you how I plan on using it!

The Investment

First things first, let's talk about the initial investment. Earning the companion pass isn't free, so I want to be fair and recap the costs I've incurred.

  • Card fees - both the Southwest Plus card and the Southwest Business card come with annual fees ($69 and $99) that can't be avoided. The natural instinct is to avoid credit cards with annual fees, but I think you'll soon see the value that these cards bring.
  • Gift card fees - each gift card used for the manufactured spending comes with $4.95 activation fee. I ended up needing 10 cards (4 @ $500 for the Plus card and 6 @ $500 for the Business card), so the total fees tally up to $49.50.
  • Money order fees - I purchased my money orders at Giant Eagle for $0.79 each, totaling $7.90.
This brings me to a grand total of a $225.40 investment - certainly a little bit of cash to spend! But don't worry, you can get a pretty nice ROI on this investment.

The Reward

Let's recap what this $225.40 investment got me.

  • Southwest Points - Meeting the minimum spend gave me bonus' of 50,000 and 60,000 points, plus I earned 1 point for every dollar spent. For simplicities sake lets call it 115,000 (the bonus' plus the $5,000 I spent on gift cards).
  • The Companion Pass - by now we all know what this is. It's a pass that allows me to take a designated companion on any flight I take for free!

The ROI

Now comes the fun part. Let's talk about how I plan on utilizing this perk see how it stacks up versus the investment.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. . . including all of Fields' money!

Vegas
As I shared last week the first trip I'm taking is to Las Vegas. I'm headed out for a friends bachelor party, but I decided to go a couple days earlier and fly my friend Jordan out with me. I purchased my roundtrip tickets by using a little over 20,000 of my Southwest points and a whopping $11.20 ($5.60 each way) for a security fee that cannot be waived. I added Fields as my companion for the trip out for another $5.60. Current flights from Columbus are about $220 each way, and since I got 3 flights (roundtrip for me and one way for Fields), that's a $660 value. It doesn't take a financial analyst to see that the investment is quickly paying for itself!

Note: SMS is not factoring any money that I lose in Vegas into this equation!


I'm ready for some drinks on the beach!

Aruba
We don't have it set in stone, but Rosie and I are seriously considering Aruba as potential honeymoon destination. We only have two main criteria that need to be met:

1. Nice beaches for lounging
2. A place we haven't been before

I think Aruba definitely checks the box for both of those! A roundtrip flight will be somewhere in the ballpark of 50,000 Southwest Points and will have about $90 in fees per person. Yes, that means we can get roundtrip flights for only $180 out of pocket! Typically roundtrip flights from Columbus are $500-800 (depending on seasonality) per person. That's a lot of cash.

Let's recap where we're at after those trips. I'm getting somewhere near a $1,660 value ($660 for Vegas, $500x2 for Aruba) and only spending $400-500! And oh by the way, I'll still have roughly 45,000 Southwest points to use.

Oh, the places I can go. . .

Let's Talk Travel

So now I now I need your help! Where else should I go with my Companion Pass? Should Rosie and I go to Aruba for our honeymoon? What other honeymoon destinations should we consider? Let me know what the Smart Money Squad thinks!




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