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.
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.
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!
- 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.
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!