Success: My Journey Towards 2 More Years of the Southwest Companion Pass & Random Takeaways

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Southwest Companion Pass 2017

Getting the Southwest Companion Pass 2017

During the Chicago Seminars this past October I lead a breakout session on Southwest Rapid Rewards. The big buzz was about Chase’s 5/24 rule and how it is now very hard to get the Companion Pass through credit cards. Then, the discussion turned to Marriott travel packages and the recently announced integration with SPG.

Specifically people were talking about transferring Marriott Rewards points to Southwest and getting a Companion Pass. Most people in that group were waiting for the new year since earning the Companion Pass in January would mean it didn’t expire until December, 2018. Everyone collectively said they would be holding their breath, because they felt the deal “could not last”.

As the holiday season rolled on, many of us thought that we had collectively dodged a bullet. No changes were made. Then, as we woke up on January 1 to transfer our points, the bad news was announced. Hotel points transfers would no longer count towards the Companion Pass! No notice. Ouch! Thankfully Southwest heard our complaints and temporarily re-opened a window for transfers to count

What Is The Companion Pass

For those who don’t know, Rapid Rewards members who earn 110,000 points in a calendar year earn a Companion Pass. This pass entitles a companion to travel for free (you just pay taxes), on any flight with the person who has the pass. The companion travels free on both cash and award tickets and the companion can be added as long as a single ticket is left for purchase on the plane. In other words it is very valuable.




Getting the Pass – My Journey

Given that we had a temporary reprieve, I decided to finally get my Companion Pass locked in. To start, I needed to find 90K Starpoints since I don’t have any Marriott Rewards points. My wife and I both had five figure SPG balances, but neither of us had 90K. Thankfully SPG allows you to transfer points between accounts if the address is the same. To do this, my wife called SPG and gave them my number. The transfer took five days total including a weekend. A long time!

Once I verified that the Starpoints had hit my account, it was go time. Immediately I logged into my SPG account and began the conversion to Marriott Rewards.

Southwest Companion Pass 2017

Southwest Companion Pass 2017

Thankfully the transfer was instant and I suddenly had 270,000 points, but not for long! I needed to book my travel package. Here are the Southwest packages available:Southwest Companion Pass 2017

First, I decided to go with a Category 1-5 package. You can pay the extra points later if you need a higher category, so there is no point in paying up now. Second, I needed 110,000 points for the Companion Pass so I chose the 120,000 points option. As you can see the 100,000 point option is only 20,000 Marriott Rewards points cheaper and would leave me short of what I needed. Basically I paid 20,000 low value Marriott points for 20,000 higher value Southwest points. 

To get my package booked, I called up Marriott Rewards and requested the package. Since I knew exactly what I wanted, the phone call took all of about 3 minutes. During the call the rep told me it could take 1-3 business days for the transfer to go through. The points were deducted from my account instantly.

Southwest Companion Pass 2017

As you can see, the travel package was ordered on Tuesday. Thankfully it didn’t take three days for the points to move over. A little less than 24 hours after I made the call I logged into Southwest and the points were sitting there. And so was my Companion Pass!

Southwest Companion Pass 2017

Hooray!

Random Thoughts

  • While hotel points transfers to Southwest will count until March 31, 2017 there is nothing keeping Marriott from changing their prices and/or policy on transfers to Southwest.
  • Since the expiration date is the same whether you do this now or in March, it probably makes sense to lock this in sooner rather than later.
  • In the past, 5 night hotel packages have been available for a cheaper price, however those are supposed to only be for timeshare owners. I was not able to get a 5 night package nor have many readers who have contacted me. I believe that option is dead.

Conclusion

The Southwest Companion Pass is a very valuable tool to save money since it can be used on both cash and award tickets. My household has had a Companion Pass for many years and I am glad that we were able to lock in another two years of this deal. While the future is uncertain for re-qualifying, I won’t have to worry about that for awhile.

What is your Southwest Companion Pass 2017 strategy? Are you going the Marriott route or getting one another way? Let’s discuss it in the comments!


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23 COMMENTS

  1. shawn or anyone, my wife & i both have 270k mr pts for the cp; at times will have 4 people travel, but most time will be only wife & me. what’s ur thoughts of us each gets a swa cp instead of another airlines like ua?

    • @dan my wife and I have to exact same situation, and decided to go for the companion pass for both of us. Obviously it depends on many factors. We like having the 120,000 SW miles, as we use them often. I also have around 500,000 UA miles and they just sit there because Singapore Air is usually cheaper to book, easy transfer from any of the major transfer banks. Basically it just depends on your situation. we fly a bunch with SW, and sometimes on my RTW trips I have to fly to LAX or SFO to get to my F class with Cathay, Singapore, or Eithad, so companion pass helps with that as I just switch to my father and then back again when trip is done…..Bottomline, no real answer, just based on circumstance. We decided it was best.

  2. I secured two SW Companion passes for my family using the Marriott Travel package. Will now have a 7 night vacation in Bath, Maine and two years of airline travel. A great deal and for me a fantastic value on points.

  3. Marriott told me there was a system change recently that now we can’t change the cert category after issue.

  4. Do you think it’s wise to wait until March 31st to do this, as the Marriott certificate value will be from March 31st to Aprip1st, if you don’t have plans to use it right now?

    • I certainly wouldn’t wait until the final day in case it takes a bit of time for the transfer. If you want to wait until the end of March it could make sense, however it is always possible that Marriott will end the deal as well.

  5. I did this 2 years ago and have been able to extend my 7 night voucher twice, from 2015 into 2016 and now into 2017. My question is: can I get another travel package? My SW Companion pass was from early 2015-end of 2016. Has anyone ever possessed 2 seven day Marriott vouchers at the same time?

  6. Two times I have extended my 7 night voucher. From 2015 to 2016 and then to 2017. I had the SW Companion Pass in 2015-16. Now I am wondering if I can get another travel package to get SW Companion Pass in 2017-18. Will Marriott let me possess 2 seven night vouchers…has anyone had that experience?

  7. You could’ve transferred the SPG points to your respective Marriott accounts and then combined Marriott points at the time of booking the travel package. That’s what I did and there is no 5 day waiting period.

  8. Hey Shawn. Congrats on your CP. I’m trying to decide my best avenue. I have 57000 Star points and 21000 Marriott points. Would my best route be the 80,000 point Marriott Card? I just got the Reserve card but I don’t think I’m 5/24 yet.

    • Hi Amy. You could certainy get the Marriott card, but if you are under 5/24 you might want to get a different Chase card instead. Instead of the Marriott card you could get an SPG Amex, although the current 25K offer isn’t the best we have seen.

  9. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on transfer American Express membership to SPG Star points and then Marriott points for Southwest Companion Pass and Marriot hotel package. Thanks!

  10. […] SPG points are extremely valuable, but they are NOT priceless. If you did the math and feel fairly confident that you will do well by trading them for Marriott travel package, go for it. Personally, I would do it sooner rather than later. After all, Marriott may devalue travel package redemption option without notice. Programs can do that, you know.  You may also want to read Milestomemories post for Shawn’s experience in transferring SPG points in order to take advant… […]

  11. Hello – I have been a Rapid Rewards member for many years, and almost exclusively fly Southwest for domestic travel. I am on my third Companion Pass, and unfortunately, I have had limited opportunities to use it. I believe that the current rules seem to favor families versus single working professionals like me. I would like to propose the the current Companion Pass rules be modified to allow for ANYONE to receive a ticket when travelling with the CP holder. The need to designate an individual for the year is not useful for someone in my position. I don’t have a specific individual that I travel with regularly. I may want to travel with a friend, a colleague, or perhaps my grandmother. What do you think about a campaign to have all CP users write a note to SW about this?

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