Bad News for Southwest Companion Pass – Hotel Point Transfers No Longer Qualify

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Update:   Southwest has changed their mind – for now!  Hotel point transfers to Southwest will count towards the Companion Pass through March 31, 2017.

Y’all know I’m a huge fan of the Southwest Companion Pass!  It’s still my favorite deal in travel.  But it’s just become a little harder to get.

Via View From the Wing, Southwest changed the terms for earning the Companion Pass today, January 1, 2017.  Without warning!

Effective immediately, points transfers from hotel and car rental loyalty programs will NOT count toward the Companion Pass.

Bad News For Southwest Companion Pass Hotel Point Transfers No Longer Qualify

The Southwest Companion Pass Is Still a Terrific Deal – but They Just Made It Trickier to Earn Qualifying Points

I’ll share the details, and show you how you can still easily earn the Southwest Companion Pass!

Southwest Changes Companion Pass Rules

Link:   Southwest Companion Pass Terms and Conditions

Link:   How to Fly (Almost) Free for 2 Years on Southwest

Without notice, Southwest changed the rules for earning the Companion Pass today, January 1, 2017.

Previously, transferring points from hotels like Hyatt, Marriott, and Choice was a good way to top-up your Southwest account to earn the 110,000 Southwest points required in a year to qualify for the Companion Pass.

Now, according to Southwest:

Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners.

Purchased points, 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 bonuses, flight bonuses, and partner bonuses (excluding points bonuses earned on the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not count toward Companion Pass.

Bad News For Southwest Companion Pass Hotel Point Transfers No Longer Qualify

Points Transfers From Hotels Like Marriott No Longer Count Towards Earning the Companion Pass

This isn’t good news for folks who were planning to earn the Southwest Companion Pass early in 2017 by transferring Starwood or Marriott points to Southwest via a Marriott Air + Hotel package.

And I’m disappointed they made this change without giving folks advance notice!

Still Earn Most of the Points for the Companion Pass With Chase Cards

Link:   Perfect Timing for the Southwest Companion Pass – All 3 Southwest Cards Offering 50,000 Points

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Personal)

Link:   Chase Southwest Premier (Business)

Link:   Chase Southwest Plus (Personal)

You’ll earn 50,000 Southwest points with the Chase Southwest Premier (Personal), Chase Southwest Premier (Business), and Chase Southwest Plus (Personal) cards when you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

With all 3 cards, you’ll earn 2X Southwest points per $1 spent on Southwest, hotel partners, car rental partners, and points purchases.  And 1X Southwest point per $1 spent on everything else.

Here’s a quick chart showing the differences between the cards:

Card FeaturesChase Southwest PremierChase Southwest Premier BusinessChase Southwest Plus
Sign-Up Bonus50,000 points60,000 points50,000 points
Minimum Spending$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account$3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account$2,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account
Anniversary Bonus6,000 points6,000 points3,000 points
Foreign Transaction Fees003%
Annual Fee$99 NOT waived the 1st year$99 NOT waived the 1st year$69 NOT waived the 1st year

Each card is considered a different card product, so you’re eligible for the Chase Southwest Premier if you already have the Chase Southwest Plus, for example.

But Chase is unlikely to approve most folks for 2 personal cards at the same time.

And you can earn the bonus again from the SAME card if you no longer have it and you received the bonus more than 24 months ago.

Remember, Chase has tightened their application rules.  That is, if you’ve opened ~5 or more credit cards (from any bank) in the past 24 months (excluding certain business cards, like the The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN), it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for most Chase cards.

Emily and I don’t earn a commission from these cards, but we’ll always tell you about the best deals!

How to Earn the Remaining Points

I’ve previously written that hotel point transfers and partner program bonus points were the easiest ways to get the extra points you’d need to earn the Companion Pass.

This is no longer the case.  You’ll only earn Companion Pass qualifying points from:

  • Flying on Southwest
  • Earning Southwest points from your Chase Southwest cards (sign-up bonus and ordinary spending)
  • Base Southwest points (not bonus points, like 1-800-Flowers promotions) from partner programs
Bad News For Southwest Companion Pass Hotel Point Transfers No Longer Qualify

Only Base Points From Partners Like 1-800-Flowers Count Toward Southwest Companion Pass Status, NOT Bonus Points

Purchased points, points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards, or points earned from online survey companies do NOT count toward the Companion Pass, either.

Bottom Line

Without notice, Southwest changed the rules for earning the Companion Pass today, January 1, 2017.

Points transfers from hotel and car rental programs, like Hyatt, Marriott, and Choice, no longer qualify toward the Companion Pass.

That’s lousy news for folks who had plans to earn the Companion Pass early this year by booking a Marriott Air + Hotel package.  I know many of us, including Million Mile Secrets team members, were waiting for the new year to pull the trigger on this deal.  🙁

That said, it’s still relatively easy to earn the Southwest Companion Pass by signing-up for 2 Chase Southwest cards.

Did this announcement catch you by surprise?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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30 responses to “Bad News for Southwest Companion Pass – Hotel Point Transfers No Longer Qualify

  1. What about points from southwesthotels.com? (Their new partnership with Booking.com). Points in the 5 digits from that put me over the top late last year.

  2. While I’m not surprised, I was saving SPG points to convert to Marriott to get the companion pass. Only issue is I already have 6 Chase credit cards (not Southwest). Do you think Chase will still approve me for 2 southwest cards even though I have so many other Chase cards? I do have good credit.

    Thanks,
    Daniel

  3. I had planned to use both Marriott and SPG points this year to get to companion passes. One for my wife and one for myself so we can travel with our two children. I was just approved by Chase for two Marriott cards one for myself and again I ne for my wife. The Marriott cards are really useless to us because we always go for vacation rentals on a site like Airbnb. I only wanted to pay for flights. I am going to call Chase tomorrow to see if we can cancel the Marriott cards and get approved for Southwest instead. Don’t know whether that will work or not but I’m going to give it a shot. I think I still have two apps on the 5/24 for my wife. Does the 5/24 apply to business? I legitimately have two businesses with two separate tax IDs.

  4. Well, poo. That cuts off the loophole allowing you to use Chase UR points, too (granted, at a terrible redemption rate, but I still used it.) And e-rewards and valued opinions, too, crud. I used both of those to grab it last time. Totally don’t blame them for cutting people like me off, though, and making us actually, you know, pay for at least *some* Southwest flights before getting a companion pass. Still sad, though – my first CP expired yesterday, I’m mourning it already. Wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it again immediately anyway, but this will definitely make it harder.

    That said, your statement, “Chase is unlikely to approve most folks for 2 personal cards at the same time” – they totally did approve both of mine, though granted, that was two years ago.

  5. Million Miles Secrets

    Dear blogger, you should blame yourself about this.

  6. too bad, was ready to order today.

  7. A month ago I predicted to my wife that this deal would be dead after reading for the zillionth time how to get the companion pass using SPG or Marriott points, Blogger after blogger hammered this to it’s death today. It would have come sooner or later,but it died faster when some bloggers haven’t learned when enough is enough.

  8. I am glad Marriott wouldn’t let me book my Nights and Flights online today, and am even more glad the Marriott Rewards people were off today, otherwise I would be out 90K Starpoints!!! Shame on me for waiting… but I don’t think 90K starpoints is worth one year of Companion.

    • I had the same experience. I will transfer my 270k Marriott points back to SPG (90k). Clearly this hobby is pushing the limits….This was a strategic SWA pushback.

  9. I could cry right now. I had been working on this since last June…reached my goal in November and was just holding out until today to do the Marriott package deal. I had big plans for my daughter and I to see lots of places over the next 2 years and now I’ll have to get more creative. It’s just me, so I don’t get to double-up cards with a spouse…and, of course, I’m at 5/24. I suppose I shouldn’t have waited, but I’m in agreement with the other commenter that I’m not sure it’s worth it for one year. At any rate, thanks for posting so quickly so I didn’t make a huge mistake tomorrow!

  10. Ugh. I did a transfer from Hyatt not an hour ago. That was a waste. Luckily it was only 7500 Hyatt points, but still a waste.

  11. I am surprised to see they still have CP through signup bonuses.
    Is that surprise for 2018?

    I see southwest as most conservative. Did not expect such a surprise from them.
    By the way, I take one or two trips per year. So CP is not a good value for me.

  12. By credit card sign up, one can get 104k points. So is chase/southwest think that, additional 6k credit card spend makes the program viable?

  13. Very disappointed…can’t get anymore Chase cards for a while….so I’m out of luck. My husband’s pass expired on Saturday. Agree they should have warned us.

  14. Dang, I was holding my emiles and erewards just for this purpose. It is going to take me a lot longer to get my companion pass. I am kind of shocked they didn’t give some kind of warning though, not like them at all!

  15. Noooo!!!!!! Well, this puts a dent in some of my plans.

  16. Wow, just wasted 1000$ bought 60k SPG points (got 50% discount ) for SW companion pass. I don’t like to pay for travel . I very much appreciate you notifying me before the BIG MISTAKE, I would have made today. Its pays to read your article. Thanks So much. I am so bummed but I knew it was coming (in my head), thought I could get it before they killed it. sucks bad for my family

  17. Has anyone actually tried to get it through Marriott this year? As we know sometimes they “say” they won’t count but then you actually do get the points. Is there proof that it has stopped? Anyone willing to “take one for the team”?

  18. knew it was coming eventually, but it sucks they gave no notice…..guess I will not use SW for my next Marriott vacation

  19. Unfortunately, I didn’t see this post until I purchased my 7-day Marriott vacation package earlier today (!), in order to get the companion pass (It cost 270k starpoints to get the 120k Southwest points). 🙁

    Honestly, I have no problem with Southwest deciding to change the policy, but giving no advance notice seems very unlike them (and is poor customer service). I had this reservation on hold since October and could easily have purchased it and had the miles transferred before the end of 2016.

    Customer service for RR is closed today, but I did write a complaint email asking to be grandfathered in because of the lack of notice. Does anyone else think that if a lot of people complain, this has any chance of being effective? (I don’t think it could hurt, which is why I tried).

    And/or should I call Marriott back right now and cancel my vacation package, and get the 270k Marriott points back so they can be changed into 90k SPG points?

    Please advise!! I’m devastated 🙁

    • Please keep us posted as to Southwest’s reply to your grandfathering request.

    • Give it a couple days and let us know, SW is still doing year end processing so I doubt you will see if your points coming over from Marriott count /don’t count towards companion until it fully processes. One thing that sort of sticks out to me (maybe wishfully) is the language that “points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs…do not count towards companion pass.” That is obviously a clean transfer – got it. But I wonder if the vacay package still works?

      Ultimately, I may still do this. Depending on the category/tier level of your redemption, you can get a $5K room for free + 120K SW points. If you search around, many of the Caribbean destinations on SW are super cheap on points (like 15K round trip), so although we may not get a companion pass, the 120K SW points will still get you numerous flights.

      Please keep us posted. Looks like you’re first in line to find out…

  20. How could the bloggers not get wind of this they get wind of everything else! I think the blogger were sworn to secrecy on this issue!

  21. Oh–how sad is that? But…do you still get the 110 SW points–just that they’re not points you can sure toward the companion pass? Or do you not even get the points?
    Thanks for the immediate notification–even thought wasn’t one I wanted…

  22. Thank you for the heads up! My wife and I follow your site, and executed the companion status in 2013 (I did it for 2013-2014) and again in2015 (she did it for 2015-2016). It’s my turn again, and I was approved for both personal and business last week, but reading this today was a shock. We’ll just have to spend an additional $6k on the cards before we get our companion status for 2017-2018. #firstworldproblems

  23. I had planned ahead and was ready for the big Day January 1 to do the transfer for Companion Pass. Since the website would not allow me to do it online and I had not read any blogs about the viability of it now, I waited until early January 2 to make the call. I did the hotel package 3 and thought I was ready to go. Happy lady :-). Just as I was completing the transfer on the phone with the agent, and had agreed to all the terms and conditions… he said the transfer was complete and could not be reversed…Literally at that instant, the email popped in about the deal is dead! My heart sank. Within three minutes I called again to reverse the decision and cancel the package. I was allowed a one-time courtesy and the package was cancelled. Relief. ..sad, but relieved.
    Now…is the next best transfer in connection with United miles? Or is there an SPG package that would be better Bang?
    Grateful for bloggers like you…millionmilesecrets!

  24. I bought the Marriott/SW PAKAGE Cat 1-5 on Jan 2, minutes for 270k Marriott points after procrastinating it until January to get two years of Companion (Yes, say it! Greedy me! I know!) minutes after I read a blog with the nefast news. Then this morning at 11:58, I received and email from SW Congratulating me for getting the companion. I went on I log in to check the account, no companion. Called SW and they referred me to customer relations. CR then said, that they are having trouble with the system and with the companion that they are reviewing the accounts MANUALLY!!$@?! Are you freaking kidding me? So much for Russians hackers. Praying that they honor the email, just because of the big boo, boo they did sending it! Finger cross! Good luck everyone!

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