Southwest kills best option for earning Companion Pass [Update: Death delayed until April 1!]

UPDATE: Points transferred from hotel & car rental programs, and from Diners Club, WILL count towards the Companion Pass through March 31 2017.

While I was obliviously enjoying a fantastic vacation in Costa Rica, The Points Guy yesterday broke the news that points transferred from hotel and car rental programs to Southwest will no long count towards the Companion Pass.  This is big and unfortunate news for those who were planning to take advantage of Marriott’s Travel Package in order to earn a Companion Pass.

For review, if you earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, you will earn a Southwest Companion Pass that is good for an unlimited number of flights for the rest of that year and all of the next.  It is one of the best travel deals available today and it just became harder to get.

SouthwestCompanionPass.png

One great option for getting a Companion Pass was to transfer 90,000 SPG points to 270,000 Marriott points, and then redeem the Marriott points for a 7 night hotel certificate plus 120,000 Rapid Rewards points. That approach will no longer result in a Companion Pass.  I’m truly very sorry if anyone bought a vacation package yesterday or today with the hope of getting a Companion Pass! 

Thankfully points earned from their co-branded credit cards, and base points earned from partners such as the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal will still count towards earning a Companion Pass.

Here is an update that was provided to The Points Guy by Southwest:

We’re working to protect the integrity and value of Southwest’s industry-unique Rapid Rewards® Companion Pass by closing a loophole that previously allowed Members to transfer mileage and points from other partner loyalty programs toward qualification for a Companion Pass. As we closed this loophole, we also updated our terms and conditions which now clarifies that points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.

For more information on these changes, see: this The Points Guy post.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] Sadly, some of the best options for earning the Southwest Companion Pass recently went away.  It used to be possible to earn Companion Pass qualifying points simply by transferring points from hotel programs.  Transferring Marriott, Hyatt, and Choice hotel points were all good options for some.  But that all changed on January 1 2017.  Now, points transferred from hotel and car rental programs do not count towards the Companion Pass. Please see: Southwest kills best option for earning Companion Pass. […]

Comments

  1. In my opinion it wasn’t the BEST option.
    C.C. signups are the best.
    The transfer options works for those who have a lot of “spare” hotel points to use.

  2. Where in Costa Rica, Greg? My wife and I just landed on Southwest using the companion pass and a week at the Marriott Los Suenos that we got from transferring points Marriott to SW using the air+travel program last Jan 3. Thankfully we have another year, but this is bad news…

  3. So I just have to open a credit card (50K bonus) and then spend $7500 at 1-800-Flowers (7×7500 SWA shopping portal + 1×7500 in spend on the SWA card). I wonder if I can find 250 people who need Peruvian lilies this year..

    • Seriously, I appreciate everything you do. You helped me get my last companion pass, which just expired. Used it to fly the family to Costa Rica, my happy place. Stayed at the Los Suenos at a Marriott Gold. I promised the family we would go back again. My 270K Marriott + husbands 270K Marriott should cover the hotel nicely. 🙂

  4. So I am one of the many who got burned by this. I have 290k Marriott points now that I need to use for something else. I was thinking nights/flights with Alaska may be the next best option. I’m based in SF Bay Area, so AS has pretty coverage. What do people think?

    Thanks you.

  5. Though I just kicked my dog in frustration… Thank you so much for posting during your vacation. Just booked my SW flight for a Feb. flight for my son who will not be my Companion in the near team.

    • I don’t understand this criticism. It’s considered best practice to link to a story’s source. I don’t get anything from linking to TPG nor was I in any way trying to”sell” TPG. Why in the world would I do that?

      • There’s always an idiot (or two) in the crowd. lol Thanks for posting the story and citing the original source. Its the right thing to do.

      • At the end of the day it’s your blog and you can do whatever you want. But, for new or unsuspecting readers being linked to tpg is like leading them into a mouse trap.
        I was just a bit shocked that is all. You, Shawn, and Scott are the only 3 blogs worth a click on snoringarea. Then I saw this. And who knows how Scott will be with all the new changes over at Travel Codex. And then Shawn posts about how bloggers aren’t responsible for killing SW hotel transfers. Now I’m starting to question humanity lol

  6. Just did yesterday my 270K purchase of 7 day travel reward and 120k SW points! Really irked that SW did not give any advance notice!

  7. Can you at least still get the 120,000 southwest points, even though no longer the cp. 120,000 points would still fly my family of 6 to Florida..

  8. Greg –

    Thanks for the post (and the update)…. Been a long time lurker.

    I’m wondering if there’s a way to do this hotel transfer through Amex Points in a way that is efficient?

    Also does anyone know if the 5/24 rule counts for Chase business cards tied to a business with its own TIN even if the SSN may have already hit?

    Cheers

    • Not really. I think the best is 3 MR -> 1 SPG -> 3 Marriott. e.g. MR to MR 1 to 1. Not great, but may be worth it if you value the 7 night stay.

      I don’t understand the 5/24 question. If you’re asking if using a business tax ID gets around 5/24 for Chase business cards, the answer is no.

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