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When we think of airline credit cards, we think of perks and benefits that come along. Airline credit cards are packed with various travel perks in order to attract new customers and keep existing ones. The cards may offer large sign-up bonuses, free checked bags, priority boarding or complimentary lounge access. Among all those benefits, there is probably the most undervalued airline credit card benefit - a companion ticket.
The reason why companion tickets are not as popular as they could be, is that only a few airline credit cards offer them. Consumers might not even know they exist. Another possible reason is the terms and conditions of getting and using a companion ticket may be too complicated and vary considerably from one card to another.
Also, there are limitations and restriction on companion tickets that may keep cardholders from taking advantage of them. Nevertheless, companion tickets remain a good deal if you can maximize your card's full potential and if you are aware of the fine print.
Companion ticket deals can be divided into several broad types. Below are some of the prominent deals:
- Sign-up bonuses with a companion fare: Companion deals can be offered either as a part of a sign-up bonus package or as an ongoing annual benefit, or even both. Credit cards that offer such a benefit are Alaska Airlines Visa® Signature Credit Card, Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®, AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® (Citi is a Credit-Land.com advertising partner).
- Automatic annual Companion pass: In this case, a companion ticket or certificate is given automatically each year. The cards that offer the benefit are Alaska Airlines Visa® Signature, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express.
- Companion tickets based on spending: Some airline credit cards offer companion tickets for hitting a spending threshold in a calendar year or a cardmember year. The examples are Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®, and AAdvantage® Aviator® Silver World Elite Mastercard®.
- Companion awards: this type of companion travel benefit is basically one award for two. The notable cards here are the British Airways Visa Signature® card and the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®.
A special attention should be given to the Southwest companion pass. Earning one companion pass allows the frequent flyer to bring a companion on both paid and award tickets during the calendar year the pass is earned and the following one.