13 Jan Earning The Southwest Companion Pass – Hotel Packages and Credit Cards

Our good friend Southwest Airlines has been at the forefront of some pretty big points and miles travel news lately!

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Southwest Airlines has been making some moves!

First…

Southwest Airlines suddenly (and without prior notice to frequent fliers) announced that Rapid Rewards earned through hotel packages would not count towards earning a Companion Pass.

Wait, what’s the Companion Pass?

The Companion Pass allows the holder (the “ CP Holder”) to designate an individual to fly with the CP Holder (such designated individual, the “Companion”) on Southwest Airlines flights purchased by the CP Holder (using cash or Rapid Rewards points) and booked through Southwest Airlines during the Companion Pass validity period.

Following the uproar…

Southwest then reversed course and is allowing RR points earned through hotel packages to count toward the CP through March 31st – just a couple months away!

Why is the announcement and subsequent backtrack a big deal? 

Because of Marriott Travel Packages!

What does Marriott have to do with the Companion Pass? Well, possibly EVERYTHING, if you have a stash of Marriott Rewards points! Marriott will allow you to exchange your points for either a week or 5 days’ worth of hotel accommodations AND, in addition, will provide you bonus airline miles… including Southwest Rapid Rewards points! Check out the redemption options:

7-Night Redemption Chart:

Hotel Plus Air Package

And the unadvertised 5-Night Redemption Chart:

Marriott Travel Package - 5 nights

Redeem 330,000 Marriott Rewards points for 7 Nights at a Category 7 Marriott – earning 120,000 Rapid Rewards points – more than enough needed for the Companion Pass!

Or, if you are short on Marriott Rewards points, you can go for a 5 Night Category 5 Marriott redemption – earning 50,000 Rapid Rewards, which you can combine with one of the 50,000 point credit card sign-ups to [almost] reach the 110,000 point threshold!

Need Marriott Rewards points? Well you can either check out the Chase Marriott personal and business credit cards, or now since the SPG and Marriott rewards programs are linked – you can instantly transfer Starpoints to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio!

WHEW! But that’s not all!

In Other News…

Southwest has also just increased the sign-up bonus on all 3 of their Chase Southwest credit cards – which DO count towards Companion Pass earning (for now)!

Earn the Companion Pass via Chase Southwest credit cards!

Earn the Companion Pass via Chase Southwest credit cards!

The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Visa and Plus Visa are at an increased 50,000 Rapid Rewards Points – which equates to about $700-$800 in Southwest flights – upon spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Though the annual fees are $99 (Premier) & $69 (Plus) – not waived the first year – the cards provide great upfront value, as well as a 9,000 (Premier) or 6,000 (Plus) Rapid Reward Point annual card member bonus (earned following payment of the 2nd year annual fee). Although we typically see this bonus a couple times a year, I suggest taking advantage of it now, just in case history stops repeating itself.

Own a business? Go for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business card and an all-time high 60k Rapid Rewards points to bring you across the Companion Pass threshold!

AYP Tip – The best and easiest method to achieve the Companion Pass remains the combination of personal and business Chase credit cards! But… always keep the Chase 5/24 rule in mind, as it will apply here!

Final Thought

Simple as 1-2-3!

1 – Southwest eliminated, then reinstated the points earned from hotel packages (including Marriott Travel Packages)

2 – In addition, Southwest increased the bonuses on their Chase co-branded credit cards!

3 – All the other Southwest Companion Pass earning methods remain unchanged… for now!

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Where is the LUV!?

It always scares me when rewards programs change without notice. I think Southwest learned from their mistake of making changes without warning, which is why they backtracked. But that doesn’t mean they won’t keep changing!

Honestly, with the value of the Companion Pass, I wouldn’t be surprised if SW did away with it altogether in the next couple years…

Happy Travels!

DW

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