Breaking: Major Negative Changes to Earning a Southwest Companion Pass

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southwest companion pass transfers hotel partners

Southwest Companion Pass No More Hotel Transfers

One of the greatest deals in miles & points for many years has been the Southwest Companion Pass. With the pass, you can take a companion with you for free on both paid tickets and awards. Better yet the pass is good for the rest of the year in which you earn it plus the entire next year.

To get the pass you need to “earn” 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a year. Since credit card earnings and bonuses count, for years the optimum strategy was to get both a Chase personal and business card with 50K bonuses plus earn the other 10K through either spend or hotel transfers. Of course with Chase 5/24 seemingly in effect on those cards, that deal has dried up.

People hoping to get the companion pass though had a new hope emerge with the SPG/Marriott merger. Marriott charges 270,000 points to get a Flight & Hotel package including 7 nights in a category 1-5 property plus 120,000 Rapid Rewards points. Additionally SPG Starpoints transfer to Marriott 1:3 now, so 90K Starpoints = 7 free nights, a companion pass + 120K Rapid Rewards points. Or at least they did.

As of today, hotel transfers no longer count towards the companion pass. Per The Points Guy Southwest has changed their terms to prohibit transfers from hotel and car rental partners from counting towards the companion pass. They also released the following statement:

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.

As you can see, the statement above does confirm that credit card spend still counts and it seems bonuses from the cards will as well. For those who are under 5/24 there is still some hope, but for the rest of us it is going to take A LOT of spend to get there. I understand this rule change, but definitely feel like Southwest could have given at least some notice to customers, but then again they apparently saw this as a loophole.

What are your thoughts? Should Southwest have given notice? Are you still planning to pursue a companion pass? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


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17 COMMENTS

  1. I literally just transferred SPG points over to Marriott to do this for a spring break trip and nab the pass. This hurts. Can’t blame them however. Was a matter of time.

    • Hope the bloggers are happy.
      Lot less referrals from us trust me.
      By spoon feeding the masses you guys killed the goose that layers the golden egg.
      Also looks like the banks although many own you guys get the last laugh.

      Thanks for 5/24 and now this, go blog about SW at fault you whiners.

      We don’t need to be see you spoon feed the masses and screw the people who were discreet and learned on their own.

      SW hit your pocket book now after the banks did. Thanks hope you’re happy.

  2. I had transferred my SPG points to Marriott a week ago — 270,000 points waiting until Jan 1, 2017, to get the CPass for 2017 and 2018. At about 1am, I logged in to Marriott to buy the package, but the Marriott website gave an error. I planned to call this morning to buy it, but woke up to the news from the blog world… whoa… I just transferred my 270K Marriott points back into my SPG account.

    If they’d told us this was coming, I would have bought the package on Dec 31, 2016, to get the pass for 2017 (already had it for 2016). I would have needed far few points too, since I had about 60K toward the pass in 2016. I’m probably not the only one… If they’re really trying to protect the integrity of that product, they needed to do it this way, or there would have been a rush on 2017 passes in December.

    • Same here, was going to buy it 1st thing and would have gotten in 2016 if warned. We even have one ticket purchased for mid January at $108 and was planning to get the 2nd on companion pass. Now that ticket is $310!

      At least can cancel and refund since AA is $113 for that same route and can use Thank You points.

      They really should have given a warning. I hope people given them hell for it without notice!

  3. I had purchased the Marriott Hotel and Air for 235K on Dec 31 and now I am very upset as I end up with 120K SW points which is worthless to me without the CP. I am rather mad at SW for not providing an advance notice to its customers.

    I am going back to Delta airlines and not flying Southwest due to lack of customer care.

  4. Any time an airline makes a massive change without notice it makes them look bad. Even if the change makes sense or is understandable.

  5. So tired of people blaming bloggers. Very few souls “do it on their own”. In the end, all good things come to an end. I already had 130,000 SPG points and I was waiting till Jan 2018 to move on this as my SW Companion pass is still good thur 2017.

    I guess I will have to keep my wife “off the grid” except for business cards for a couple of years and then get back in the good graces of the 5/24 rule. I have had a companion pass for decades now and I certainly don’t feel cheated by SW. Still the most gracious of airlines.

  6. I had applied for Marriott and SPG cards to complete the mileage needed for the Marriott package. I was going to get the package and the necessary Southwest points, for a c.p.; today. No warning about the change. Not a happy camper here. 🙁

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