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As you likely already know, one of the very best deals in family travel is the Southwest Companion Pass as it allows a designated companion to fly with you on Southwest paid or award flights for the calendar year you earn it, and the following calendar year for just the price of taxes/fees on the second ticket. However, as I have shared a couple of times, the hard deadline for using hotel points to help get you to the 110,000 needed Rapid Reward points to earn the Companion Pass is March 31, 2017. After that time, hotel points transferred into Rapid Rewards will no longer count towards earning the Companion Pass. Also note that the transfers must be received by that date by Southwest and they aren’t instant transfers, so we are already in somewhat risky territory if you haven’t initiated the transfers you need.
Remember that when doing your math, be sure to not count the Southwest points already in your Rapid Rewards account unless they were earned this calendar year. There is a handy Companion Pass tracker available when you log in your Rapid Rewards account so you can see how many Companion Pass eligible points you have earned so far in 2017. You aren’t trying to get to 110,000 total points in your Rapid Rewards account, you are trying to get to 110,000 Companion Pass eligible points earned this calendar year.
Hotel Point Transfers That Count Towards the Southwest Rapid Rewards Companion Pass
As a final reminder, here are the types of hotel points that count towards earning the Companion Pass as long as Southwest receives the points by 3/31/17.
- 5,000 Best Western Rewards points = 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points.
- 6,000 Choice points = 1,800 Rapid Rewards points
- 2,000 Gold Points = 200 Rapid Rewards Points
- 50,000 Gold Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 100,000 Gold Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport = 2,400 Rapid Rewards Points
- 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points = 30,000 Rapid Rewards Points
You can also go from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio
- 6,000 La Quinta Returns points for 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points
- 10,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 2,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 20,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 30,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 70,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 25,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 140,000 Marriott Rewards Points = 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 200,000 Marriott Reward points = 7 nights in a Category 1-5 hotel + 50,000 Rapid Reward points
- 250,000 Marriott Reward points = 7 nights in a Category 1-5 hotel + 100,000 Rapid Reward points
- 270,000 Marriott Rewards points = 7 nights in a Category 1-5 hotel + 120,000 Rapid Reward points
You can also go from Starwood Preferred Guest to Marriott on a 1:3 points ratio.
The popular way to do this in recent months has been to go from Starwood to Marriott to Southwest as 1 SPG point becomes 3 Marriott points, and you can then get a Marriott Hotel + Air package as outlined below. SPG members in the same household can pool points into one SPG account, and then transfer them to Marriott to get a Hotel + Air package.
The other relatively common transfer for those in need of a few more points is to go from Chase Ultimate Rewards – Hyatt Gold Passport – Southwest. You lose points in the process due to the ratios, but 50,000 Chase/Hyatt points can become 30,000 Rapid Reward points in a pinch. Ultimate Rewards transferred directly to Southwest do not count towards the Companion Pass.
Earn Southwest Companion Pass and Hotel Nights for 90,000 SPG Points
Because of the 1:3 transfer ratio, it takes just 90,000 SPG points to obtain the 270,000 Marriott points needed for 120,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points and 7 nights in a Category 1-5 Marriott Hotel via their Hotel and Air packages.
These packages must be booked over the phone with Marriott at 1-800-321-7396, they take a few days to post, and you have a year to use the hotel award (though I have even heard of getting that extended a year). You can also spend more points to stay in a higher category Marriott property if nothing you like is in the Category 1-5 range. You can upgrade your certificate at a later time and just pay for the 1-5 certificate now.
New Category 5 Marriott Properties
The annual Marriott category changes took effect earlier this month, and while some properties went up in category and out of the Category 5 range (like the Curacao property), some others went down and became new Category 5 Marriott properties that are eligible for the Category 1-5 certificate you can get with the basic Marriott Hotel + Air packages. Here are some Marriott properties that just dropped into the Category 5 group:
- Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel
- Delta St. John’s
- Renaissance Santiago
- Santiago Marriott Hotel
- Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande
- Canyon Lodge, Autograph Collection
- Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove
- Fort Lauderdale Marriott North
- Renaissance Austin Hotel
- Stone Mountain Inn
- Gaylord National
- Marriott Plaza San Antonio
- Palm Beach Gardens Marriott
- SpringHill Suites Scottsdale North
- TownePlace Suites Galveston Island
- Renaissance Paris Hotel La Defense
- Gewandhaus Dresden, Autograph Collection
No matter how you plan to get your 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass eligible Rapid Reward points, the clock is running out of time if you want some hotel points to help you get all the way to that total. You don’t have to hit 110,000 points by 3/31/17 as you technically have all year to do so, but you do have to have any hotel points you want to count towards that total in your Rapid Rewards account by that date. After 3/31/17 the Rapid Reward points earned via your Rapid Rewards credit card(s), paid Southwest flights, the Rapid Reward shopping portal, etc. will still count towards earning the Companion Pass, just not hotel points.
Are you still waiting for some hotel points to transfer and count towards earning the Southwest Companion Pass, or are you all set for 2017?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.