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Because of the recent 100,000 Marriott offer, I’ve received a lot of questions about transferring Marriott points out to Southwest in order to get the Companion Pass. Let me break it down for you.
One of the best travel hacks in recent years has been earning a Southwest Companion Pass by purchasing a Marriott Hotel + Air Package that allowed you to stay 7 nights at a Marriott property & earn Southwest Rapid Reward points in the process. For 270,000 Marriott points, you would automatically meet Southwest’s requirement of 110,000 Rapid Rewards points allowing you & a traveling companion to fly for free for up to two years. After March 31, 2017, Southwest no longer allows you to get a Southwest Companion Pass with Marriott points if they are transferred after this date. But you can still earn the Companion Pass with the Rapid Rewards credit cards.
So, it still might be possible for you to earn a Companion Pass if you initiated the transfer in the first three months of 2017 from Marriott to Southwest.
The New Southwest Companion Pass Policy
Southwest recently updated the terms and conditions of the Companion Pass to read as follows regarding non-qualifying Rapid Reward points:
“Purchased points, points transferred between Members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions, and Diners Club, points earned from Rapid Rewards program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and Partner bonus points (excluding bonus points earned on the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass qualifying points.”
Until March 31, 2017, Southwest allowed points transferred from Marriott and other hotel loyalty programs to qualify for the Companion Pass. Now the only ways to earn it are through Southwest flight purchases, shopping or dining with a retail partner, or using your Rapid Rewards Credit Card. Points earned from spending and (currently) the sign-up bonus from the Southwest Rapid Rewards card still do count towards the Companion Pass.
TIP: Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred out to Southwest WILL NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
How Marriott Points Can Still Get a Southwest Companion Pass in 2017
If you transferred any Marriott points to Southwest between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017, those points will count toward earning a Companion Pass in the 2017 calendar year.
Any hotel points transferred by Marriott or any of the other Southwest hotel partners transferred April 1st or later, are as valid for earning a Companion Pass in 2017 as the points you transferred in 2016. They don’t count. Although, they are still valuable as you can still redeem them for reward flights.
Southwest may decide to reverse this policy in the future. They did put a temporary hold on transferring points from hotel programs earlier this year, but, then extended the deadline through March. For the foreseeable future, it appears as if Southwest won’t reverse course.
Earn Your Southwest Companion Pass ASAP
To get the most out of your Southwest Companion Pass, you need to earn 110,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points as soon as possible. This is because the Companion Pass you earn in 2017 is valid for the remaining months of this year and all of 2018. If you had transferred your Marriott points on January 1st, 2017, your pass would essentially have been valid for two full years.
Even if it takes you until December to accumulate 110,000 Rapid Rewards points, being able to fly for free in 2018 is still awesome.
How to Earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2017
You can still earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2017 without Marriott points, but, you will have to work a little harder at it.
You have three ways to earn qualifying Rapid Rewards points:
- Fly 100 paid one-way flights in 2017
- Earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in 2017
- Own a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card by Chase
- Shop on the Southwest shopping portal
The quickest way to earning the Southwest Companion Pass now is to apply for any of the three Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards and earn 50,000 bonus points that can be used for the Companion Pass in addition to the normal purchase rewards earned on every card transaction.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Don’t Qualify
Another clarification to make. Ultimate Rewards points that you earn through the Chase Sapphire Preferred do not qualify either even though you can transfer them directly to Southwest.
The only Chase credit card that earns Companion Pass qualifying points are the three Rapid Rewards Visas.
Marriott Hotel + Air Packages Are Still A Good Deal
Marriott’s Hotel & Air packages are still a good deal, even if the Southwest packages dropped significantly in value due to the recent changes. You can still get 7 Marriott nights at a Category 1-5 hotel & 50,000 Rapid Rewards points for 200,000 Marriott points. For 270,000 Marriott points, you can stay the same number of nights and earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points.
In addition to packages with Southwest, you can also earn miles with most of the other major airlines including JetBlue, Delta, and the ever luxurious Singapore Airlines.
Other Ways to Use Marriott Points
If you don’t want to transfer your Marriott points to Southwest or another Hotel + Night package, there are a couple other ways to use them instead.
Transfer to Starwood
Since Marriott & Starwood are merging their loyalty programs together. You can transfer your Marriott points to Starwood on a 3:1 transfer ratio and redeem them for Starwood stays. It might initially feel like you are losing points, but, most Starwood properties require fewer points for reward nights and you might be able to actually increase the current value of your Marriott points.
Redeem for Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Stays
The other obvious option is to redeem them for hotel stays at any Marriott or Ritz-Carlton property. Here are some ideas for Marriott Rewards Nights if you need some help deciding where to use them, domestically or internationally.
Plus, if you redeem 4 nights, you get the 5th night free!
Need More Marriott Points?
What if you don’t have enough Marriott points yet to redeem for a Hotel + Nights package or a nightly stay, you can always apply for the 100,000 point Chase Marriott.
In addition to earning 100,000 bonus Marriott points as a sign-up bonus after spending $5,000, you can also earn an additional 7,500 Marriott points by adding an authorized user. And, you can earn anywhere from 1-5 Marriott points for every $1 in purchases.
Along with the point boost, owning the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card gives you one free anniversary night stay and complimentary Marriott Silver Elite Status. Plus, you will pay zero transaction fees when you travel overseas.
A Second Option
If you want more flexible earning options, you can also opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred that earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to most major airline & hotel loyalty programs including Marriott on a 1:1 basis. The sign-up bonus for the Sapphire Preferred is only 50,000 points plus 5,000 for adding an authorized user, but, you get the flexibility of transferring the points directly to Marriott or another Ultimate Rewards travel partner.
There’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that you can still earn a Southwest Companion Pass.
The bad news is that you can no longer do so with Marriott points unless you transferred them to Southwest before 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2017. If you did, they will qualify towards the Companion Pass until December 31.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.