Tips & Tricks to Get the Southwest Companion Pass With Marriott Flight Packages

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Update:   After March 31, 2017, transferring hotel points to Southwest no longer counts towards the Companion Pass.  But here’s how to earn Companion Pass points when booking paid nights at hotels.

The new year is quickly approaching!

So many folks are planning the best strategy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass early in 2017.  This way you’ll get the most savings with nearly 2 full years of (almost) free flying for a companion!

I recommended a way for couples to earn the Companion Pass and get a 7-night hotel stay with 2 card sign-up bonuses each.

And many readers commented with fantastic questions on this strategy!

Southwest Companion Pass Marriott Flight Packages

I’m Happy to Answer Questions to Help Folks Earn the Companion Pass, Which Emily and I Think Is the Best Deal in Travel!

I’ll answer a few of the most common questions that can help you and your partner get the best deal in travel!

Marriott Hotel + Air & Companion Pass Questions

Link:   1 Couple + 2 Cards = 2 Years of Free Flying + 7 Free Hotel Nights!

Here are some fantastic questions from our readers about earning the Southwest Companion Pass with Marriott Hotel + Air packages.  I’ll share some tips so folks can get the most out of these packages!

1.   Wait Until January 2017

Million Mile Secrets reader, Brian, commented:

Do the Southwest points from the Marriott Hotel + Air package post as soon as you’ve made the booking?

And reader Sophia, commented:

Is January 1, 2017 the best day to book the Marriott Hotel + Air package or December 31, 2016?  How long does it take for the Southwest points to post?  I’d like to get the Companion Pass as early as possible in January 2017.

Excellent questions!  I recommend waiting until January 1, 2017, to book the Marriott Hotel + Air package.  Marriott says it can take up to 14 days for the Southwest points to post in your account.

But I’ve read about folks who received the Southwest points in their account on the same day of booking.  This would NOT be good if you booked on December 31, 2016!

Because the Companion Pass is valid from the date you earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points up to the end of the next calendar year.

Southwest Companion Pass Marriott Flight Packages

Wait Until January 1, 2017 to Book a Marriott Hotel + Air Package. This Way You’ll Get the Southwest Companion Pass for Almost 2 Full Years!

So getting the Southwest points in early January 2017 means your Companion Pass will be valid until December 31, 2018!

Keep in mind, you can still combine Marriott points with a partner in anticipation of booking a Hotel + Air package in early January 2017.  This will save you time and you’ll be ready to book in the new year!

2.   No Upgrades to Higher Category Marriott Hotels

Million Mile Secrets reader, trup, commented:

Do you know how to upgrade from a Category 5 Marriott hotel to a higher category after you book a Hotel + Air package?

Great question!  Unfortunately, you can NOT upgrade to a higher category Marriott hotel after you redeem points for a Hotel + Air package.  I confirmed this on the phone with multiple Marriott representatives.

So if your goal is to stay in a Category 6 or Category 7 Marriott hotel and get the Companion Pass, you’ll need to use more points when you book the package.

Southwest Companion Pass Marriott Flight Packages

If You Redeem More Marriott Points When Booking a Hotel + Air Package, You Can Stay 7 Nights at Higher Category Hotels Like the Category 7 JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa in Costa Rica

For the Companion Pass and a 7-night stay, you’ll pay:

3.   How to Use the Marriott 7-Night Certificate

Million Mile Secrets reader, Emma, commented:

Does the Marriott 7-night certificate have to be used all at once (at one hotel)?

And reader, Diane, commented:

Is there a time limit to use the Marriott 7-night hotel certificate?

The 7-night certificate you get with a Marriott Hotel + Air package must be used at the same hotel for 7 consecutive nights.

Unfortunately, you can NOT use it for 4 nights at one hotel and 3 nights at a different hotel (for example).

Remember, when you book the Hotel + Air package, you do NOT have to pick the hotel on the same day.  You’ll get a certificate for the hotel category you choose that’s valid for 1 year.

But I recommend booking your stay as soon as possible.  Because the hotel you choose will need to have 7 consecutive award nights available.  So the longer you wait, the harder it might be to get the dates you want.

4.   Alternative Card Sign-Up Bonus Combinations

Link:   If You Don’t Know This AMEX Secret, You’re Missing Out!

Some folks are unable to get the Chase Marriott Rewards card because of the bank’s tougher application rules.

Thankfully, there are other ways to get enough Marriott points to get a 7-night Marriott stay and the Companion Pass!

You and a partner could each apply for the:

With each of these cards, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Starwood points after meeting spending requirements.

So you and a partner can earn at least 100,000 Starwood points (25,000 Starwood points x 4), which converts to 300,000 Marriott points.

That’s more than enough points to get you the Companion Pass with a Hotel + Air package!

Southwest Companion Pass Marriott Flight Packages

With 2 AMEX Starwood Card Sign-Up Bonuses Each, You and a Partner Will Have Enough Points to Get the Companion Pass & Stay 7 Nights at the Long Beach Marriott in California

Keep in mind, you’ll need to qualify as small business for the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest business card.  But AMEX small business cards are often relatively easy to get because there are no strict income requirements.  And it won’t count toward Chase’s card limits!

Bottom Line

Folks are planning to earn the Southwest Companion Pass in early 2017 to use this amazing perk for nearly 2 full years.

I’ve written how couples can earn the Companion Pass and a 7-night hotel stay with 2 card sign-up bonuses each by booking a Marriott Hotel + Air Package.

If you’re considering a Hotel + Air package to earn the Companion Pass, remember:

  • Wait until January 1, 2017, to book
  • You can’t upgrade to a higher category Marriott hotel after you book
  • You must use the 7-night Marriott certificate for consecutive nights at the same hotel
  • Couples impacted by the Chase “5/24 rule” can earn the sign-up bonuses from 2 AMEX Starwood cards (personal and small business) to earn enough points for a Marriott Hotel + Air package

If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!

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24 responses to “Tips & Tricks to Get the Southwest Companion Pass With Marriott Flight Packages

  1. Is NOT being able to upgrade to a higher category after booking a recent change? You had a reader story just a week or so ago who reported that he did upgrade with additional Marriott Rewards points so he could stay at the Marriott Waikiki after initially booking the category 1-5 award.

  2. Does you stay (from the cert) need to be booked within 1 year or does your stay need to be completed within 1 year?

  3. What are your thoughts on transferring Membership Rewards points to your SPG acct and then converting them to Marriott points? You effectively get a 1:1 transfer.

    Also, if only 5 nights are available can you still use your 7 night certificate for the stay (forfeiting 2 nights)?

  4. #2 I believe is incorrect unless that changed recently.

    From my understanding you can upgrade the package on the hotel point side. Ie you can go from a cat 5 to 7 but cannot go from 100k miles to 120k miles.

  5. I dont understand how to get the category 6 or 7? Do i just call in for that,because I dont see where you’re finding that.

  6. You can upgrade (and even downgrade) hotel categories after you get your vacation package. You just pay the difference (additional points) or they give some back if you downgrade.

  7. Not just the upgrading is wrong, there are very recent reports of people booking 3 nights then a gap then another 4 nights at the same hotel using the certificate. So as long as it’s the same hotel, yes you can put gaps in between the days (useful for round trip road trips, or to bookend a trip with a hotel close to the airport).

  8. Do you have to use all 7 nights? If someone is doing this mostly for the companion pass but also would only be able to use 5 nights due to work availability, child care etc, would it be possible? Does the hotel need to have all 7 nights available even if you’re not going to be there for 7 nights?

  9. based on your past experience, what is the best hotel for this package to target. Like to stay in really nice hotels with great point options. Used your advise in New York at the Andez!

    • It will depend on your desired travel destination. But there are some Category 6 and 7 hotels in Europe, Central America, or the Caribbean, that are highly rated and would be a great choice for a 7-night stay.

  10. Can I upgrade to a category 8? Thanks!

  11. Hi,

    I’m thinking of converting 90000 Starwood points to Marriott to get the companion pass and hotel cert. Would you consider this a good use of Starwood points? I realize it’s subjective but I would appreciate your opinion.

    • Hi Grahme,

      We’ll have a more detailed post about this in the near future. It really depends on your travel plans. Starwood points are extremely valuable because you can transfer directly to many airline partners and get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer. But the Companion Pass is also an amazing perk if you plan to frequently travel on Southwest with your companion.

  12. Any tips on how to check availbity? I am going to pull trigger January 17 but the Marriott vacation hotel I wanted is available but not with points. Thanks

    • I recommend calling Marriott because they can quickly tell you if there are 7 consecutive award nights available at your desired hotel. You can also check online by looking at the calendar of available award nights.