Well… mostly free! The reason I say mostly free is that though the cost of the night or flight is covered, you are still responsible for paying the security costs and taxes (for flights), and resort fees and taxes (for hotels).
It’s no secret that I am a fan of responsible credit card use, and all the perks that come with them. One of the biggest perks offered by certain credit cards is that of free nights at certain hotels, or free flights for companions. Most of these are limited to once a year, with the coupon code reissued each cardholder anniversary.
I’ve broken down a few of the more common certificates, broken apart by hotel and airline. I have omitted the Companion Pass from Southwest as it is in a category of its own. After 100 one-way flights on Southwest, you get unlimited companion flights anywhere Southwest flies! You can also get it through credit card signup bonuses and creative spending. By timing when you get the Companion Pass, you can have it last for two years.
None of the credit card links below are affiliate links. Please check with the bank directly to see if you are eligible for a better promotional offer, though!
Bank of America offers both personal and business versions of the Alaska Airlines co-branded credit card. In addition to the 30,000 mile signup bonus after spending $1000 within the first 3 months, you get a coupon code for a companion ticket. The coupon code can be applied directly when booking online – you will see an icon next to the prices for eligible routes. Note that you can only apply this discount to flights on Alaska Airline metal, not code-shares or partner flights, and all seats must be in economy.
However, you don’t need to be the one flying, nor do you need to use this credit card for the flight purchase. I used this for my brother and his girlfriend last year, and further reduced the price by paying with my Citi Prestige card to apply the $250 airfare credit.
Before the merger between American Airlines and US Airways, BarclayCard offered a credit card for US Airways that had a companion fare offer. As these cards have been converted into American Airlines Aviator cards of varying tiers, many of their perks also translated. The companion fare is only available for the Silver Aviator card, though.
As with the British Airways card, below, the cardholder must spend $30,000 in a calendar year to earn this ticket, but unlike the other coupons in this category, you can apply this to two guests at $99 (plus taxes) each. This is only valid for economy class travel in the 48 contiguous States. You also earn 5,000 elite-qualifying miles for every $20,000 you spend annually, to 10,000 miles.
It is not currently possible to apply for this card, but there has been talk of BarclayCard being allowed to allow new applicants for credit cards starting January 2017. They are limited to advertising in airports and on flights, though.
Chase is no stranger to the co-branded credit card game, and I be going into their other offerings below. Their British Airways credit card has a standard signup bonus of 50,000 Avios for $3,000 spend in 3 months, and can easily peak to 75,000 or 100,000 Avios. If you collect Avios, you might want to hold off until one of those offers return.
The companion ticket offered with this card is known as a “Travel Together” ticket. Unlike other cards, this offer requires a hefty spend of $30,000 per calendar year, but the coupon code is offered for two years. The nice thing is you can apply this code for any cabin class: Economy, Business, or First, so long as you pay the associated fees. These associated fees can easily reach into the thousands of dollars when you look at fuel surcharges, though, so book carefully! Also note that this ticket applies specifically for reward tickets, not purchased tickets – you must use Avios to book your ticket, and your flight must originate from and return to the US.
American Express offers two credit cards that have companion ticket offerings with Delta, and they are slightly different from one another. The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card offers an economy class companion ticket, while the Delta Reserve SkyMiles card offers an economy or first class companion ticket (matching that of the paid flyer). Both flyers are denied upgrade opportunities when companion tickets are used, officially, though not always in practice according to FlyerTalk.
The Platinum SkyMiles card offers 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Of those, 5,000 are Medallion Qualifying Miles. You can also earn 10,000 MQMs every $25,000 you spend annually. There is currently an offer with a $100 statement credit, as well, which helps offset the annual fee of $195.
Similarly, the Delta Reserve card offers 10,000 miles after your initial purchase. All of these miles are also MQMs, which helps you maintain status. You also earn an extra 15,000 MQMs for every $30,000 you spend annually. Though this comes with a $450 annual fee, you get unlimited SkyClub access in addition to the companion ticket to help soften that blow.
The Miles and More credit card by BarclayCard was recently upgraded from a World MasterCard to a World Elite MasterCard, and given a visual makeover as well. In addition to the standard co-branded card perks (extra miles earned for related spend), you receive a companion ticket annually. There are quite a few restrictions associated with this application, unfortunately, specifically in the fares you can apply the ticket against. The good news is there is no minimum spend associated with this as with British Airways.
The Fairmont card from Chase has an introductory offer of two free nights after meeting the $3,000 spend, and follows up with an annual certificate for a night – every year you spend more than $12,000.
Citi offers two Hilton cards, though only one comes with free nights. The Hilton Reserve card starts with two weekend night certificates after spending only $2,500, and also has an annual weekend night certificate for years that you meet a spend of $10,000. Keep in mind that these are only for weekend nights. There are limitations where you can apply these nights.
Hyatt currently has a promotion where you can get two nights at any Hyatt, world-wide, once you meet the $1,000 minimum spend. You are also given a complimentary night on your cardholder anniversary for hotels that are categories 1 through 4. There is no minimum spend associated with this certificate.
International Hotel Group
Just like the Hyatt card, above, Chase has a credit card for the IHG family of hotels that offers an annual certificate that is good for a free night at any IHG property. Not bad at all for $49 a year!
Chase (told you they knew the co-branded game!) offers both personal and business variants of their Marriott credit card that will give you 80,000 points for meeting the minimum spend of $3,000. There is also an annual certificate that you receive after your first year as a cardholder that is good for a free night at any category 1 to 5 hotel.
The last card on my list is the newly upgraded Visa Infinite Ritz-Carlton from Chase. For completing the minimum spend of $5,000, you receive three nights at participating category 1-4 hotels. You do not receive an annual certificate with this card, however.