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Million Mile Secrets reader, Mark, emailed:
A few months ago, I applied for the Chase Southwest personal and small business credit cards to get the Southwest Companion Pass. I was only approved for the Chase Southwest personal card, so I’ve only earned 55,000 Southwest points this year.
I do not have any Starwood points, but I DO have 80,000 Marriott Rewards points. Can I transfer 55,000 Marriott Rewards points to my Southwest mileage account to get a total of 110,000 Southwest points and earn a Southwest Companion Pass?
Thanks for reaching out, Mark!
Marriott points do not transfer to Southwest at a ratio of 1:1, so you’ll need more Marriott points to get the additional 55,000 Southwest points for a Companion Pass. And because it’s later in the year, you’ll have to earn the remaining Southwest points fast!
I’ll explain some options for how to get the Southwest Companion Pass quickly!
Need Southwest Points in a Hurry? Marriott to the Rescue!
Link: Southwest Companion Pass
With the Southwest Companion Pass, you can bring along a travel partner for (almost!) free whenever you travel on Southwest. Even if you book your flight with points, your companion can travel with you for only the cost of taxes and fees, as long as Southwest is selling seats on that flight. If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, this perk can save you thousands!
Here’s what you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass:
- You’ll need to earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year (January to December).
- Your Companion Pass is valid from the date you earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points up to the end of the next calendar year.
- If you earn the Companion Pass on October 25, 2016 (for example!), it will be valid until December 31, 2017 (~14 months).
- Because Marriott and Starwood are merging, you can also use Starwood points to help you get the Southwest Companion Pass!
So if you don’t earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points between January and December 2016, you’ll have to start over on January 1, 2017.
If you haven’t earned the full 110,000 Southwest points this year to earn the Companion Pass, there are plenty of ways to do it!
1. Apply For a Marriott or AMEX Starwood Credit Card
If you’re low on Marriott points, you can apply for a Chase Marriott credit card, as long as you haven’t received the sign-up bonus in the last 24 months. Chase Marriott credit cards currently have a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
You can also apply for an AMEX Starwood credit card! Because Marriott and Starwood are merging, you can now transfer your Starwood points to Marriott at a ratio of 1:3 (1 Starwood point = 3 Marriott points).
With the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, you’ll earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $3,000 within the 1st 3 months of opening your account. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.
After you’ve reached your minimum spending you’ll have the equivalent of 84,000 Marriott points (28,000 Starwood points from sign-up bonus and minimum spending X 1:3 Starwood to Marriott conversion rate = 84,000 Marriott points)! And, because each Starwood point is worth 3 Marriott points, you’ll essentially receive 3 Marriott points for every $1 you spend with the AMEX Starwood Card.
This is the quickest way for Mark to earn the points he needs to get his Companion Pass!
2. Transfer Marriott Points to Southwest
Link: Marriott Points Transfer to Airlines (Log-In Required)
Transferring Marriott points to Southwest is a fast way to get points that qualify for the Companion Pass. However, Marriott can take ~6 weeks to add the points to your Southwest account. So be sure to plan accordingly!
Transferring 10,000 Marriott points to Southwest will only earn you 2,000 Southwest points, for a transfer ratio of 5:1. But you will get more value from your Marriott points by transferring 70,000 or 140,000 Marriott points.
If you have only earned Southwest points from a Southwest credit card sign-up bonus, you will need to transfer 140,000 Marriott points to Southwest to get close to the 110,000 Southwest points you’ll need to earn the Companion Pass.
3. Marriott Hotel + Air Package
Link: Marriott Hotel + Air Package (Log-In Required)
If you’re planning to transfer Marriott points directly to Southwest, consider earning more Marriott points and booking a Marriott Hotel + Air Package instead!
For 200,000 Marriott points, you’ll get 7 nights at a Marriott category 1 to 5 hotel, and 50,000 Southwest points! That’s a free week-long stay at Marriott for 60,000 more Marriott points!
Once you redeem your Marriott points for a Hotel + Air Package, your miles should be deposited into your account within ~6 weeks (usually much sooner).
4. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Marriott
I do not recommend transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott unless you really want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass and are willing to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for it. That’s because I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points much higher than Marriott points.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a ratio of 1:1. However, transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Southwest will NOT help you qualify for the Companion Pass. You must make the transfer through Marriott.
But if you have at least 150,000 Marriott points, transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott for a Hotel + Air Package can makes more sense. That’s because the ratio of Southwest points you’ll earn from each Chase Ultimate Rewards point you transfer to Marriott becomes 1:1.
You’ll need at least 200,000 Marriott points for a Marriott Hotel + Air Package. If you have at least 150,000 Marriott points, you can transfer 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott. The extra points you transfer to Marriott from Chase Ultimate Rewards will equal 1 Southwest point for every 1 point you transfer from Marriott. Because you’ll get 50,000 Southwest points with a Marriott Hotel + Air Package for 200,00 Marriott points.
Still, if there is any way you can earn more Marriott points and spare your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, do that first!
5. Buy Starwood Points
Link: Buy Starwood Points
As a last resort, you can buy Starwood points and transfer them to Marriott at a ratio of 1:3 (you can also buy Marriott points but it’s more expensive). Then choose a method above to convert your Marriott points into qualifying Southwest points.
But weigh the cost of the points against the value you place on the Companion Pass because you can go broke trying to save money!
Note: Friends and family can share Marriott points with you to help you with a redemption! And folks who share your address can transfer up to 30,000 Starwood points into your account each year. So your companion can earn points to help you get the Companion Pass, too!
6. Other Ways to Earn Enough Points
Remember, you can also earn Marriott, Starwood, and Southwest points by using their credit cards for everyday spending! And you can earn Southwest points by flying Southwest. But if you need lots of points in a hurry, these probably won’t be your best option because it takes time to spend, and more time for the points to post to your account!
You can transfer Marriott points to Southwest to help you qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
If you need more Southwest points, you can earn and transfer Marriott points to Southwest by:
- Signing-up for a Marriott or Starwood credit card
- Booking a Marriott Hotel + Air Package
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott
- Buying Starwood Points
- Combining points with friends and family through Marriott and Starwood.
What is your strategy to quickly earning qualifying Southwest points to earn the Companion Pass?
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