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.
Million Mile Secrets reader Jay (thanks!) writes in to confirm that the bonus from the Chase Southwest credit cards counted towards his Companion Pass in Jan 2012!
“So I checked again last night and BINGO…not only did the points post but THEY COUNTED TOWARDS the Companion Pass!!! I was pretty happy to say the least.
I only have one problem now. I still need 9,479 points to reach the needed amount.
Do you or any of your readers know of any other ways to get the 9,479 points I need to reach Companion Pass Status without having to make $9479 worth of purchases? Can anyone confirm if the purchased points do indeed not count towards the Companion Pass?
Thanks for all your help and feel free to let others know that the bonus points are still working in 2012!”
The Southwest Companion Pass is the best airline perk because it lets a companion travel with you for free whenever you travel on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash – your companion flies free!
You need 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points in a calendar year to qualify for the Companion Pass. I earned my Companion Pass in 2011 from 2 Chase Southwest credit card sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points each and from transferring hotel points to earn the balance 10,000 points.
I was concerned that the 50,000 point credit card sign-up bonus would NOT count towards the Companion Pass in 2012 (does Southwest really want folks to fly for free just because they applied for 2 credit cards?!), but it appears that, for now, the credit card sign-up bonus is counting towards the Companion Pass. Whew!
You can’t earn Southwest Airline Companion Pass Qualifying points by buying Southwest points, but you can earn them in a few other ways.
A lot of these ways are not technically supposed to be allowed according to the program terms and conditions, but they are working for now.
How to Check How Many Companion Pass Qualifying Points You Have?
You can check how many points you have towards the Companion Pass by clicking this link and signing into your Southwest account.
The cheapest way to get the extra 6,000 points needed for the Companion Pass (assuming you got 100,000 points from 2 Chase Southwest credit cards & $2,000 in spending on each one) is by buying 18,000 Choice hotel points for $198 and converting them to 5,400 Southwest Airline points.
6,000 Southwest points are worth $100 towards the cheapest Wanna Get Away Fares, so you are paying an extra $98 ($198 for 18,000 Choice Points – $ 167 worth of Southwest points) to get to Companion Pass status as soon as possible.
$98 is less than the price of 1 cheap round trip ticket, so it could be worth paying just to get the extra points needed for the Companion Pass, if you will be taking a flight with your companion soon.
1. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Chase Ultimate Rewards points (the loyalty program of certain Chase credit cards) can now be transferred to Southwest Airline points if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Bold cards, but Mommy Points confirmed that these do NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
So while you can transfer points to top off for an award on Southwest Airlines, these points will not count towards Companion Pass Status.
Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt or Marriott and then to Southwest
But you CAN first transfer points from Chase Ultimate rewards to either Hyatt or Marriott hotels, and then you can transfer Hyatt or Marriott points to Southwest Airlines.
However the transfer ratio is NOT 1:1, so you will “lose” some Ultimate Rewards points, but this is totally worth it to get a companion to fly with you for free for close to 2 years!
Transfer to Hyatt and then to Southwest Airlines
For example, you can transfer 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points to 20,000 Hyatt points and from Hyatt you can transfer 20,000 Hyatt points to 9,600 Southwest Airline points.
5,000 Hyatt points transfers into 2,400 Southwest Airline points, but you have to transfer in increments of 1,250 points and start with a transfer of 5,000 Hyatt points.
However, Hyatt offers a 5,000 bonus if you transfer 50,000 points, so you could transfer 50,000 Hyatt points and get 29,000 Southwest Airline points.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then to Southwest is a better deal than transferring them to Marriott (see below) since you need fewer Ultimate Rewards points to get 10,000 Southwest points.
Transfer to Marriott and then to Southwest Airlines
You could also transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points to 30,000 Marriott Points and from Marriott you could transfer 30,000 points for 10,000 Southwest Airline points.
2. American Express Membership Rewards Points
American Express Membership Rewards points (the loyalty program of certain American Express credit cards) can NOT be transferred directly to Southwest Airlines.
Transfer to Choice hotels and then to Southwest
But you can transfer 30,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Choice hotel points and then transfer 30,000 Choice hotel points to 9,000 Southwest points.
3. Hotel Transfers
If you have points in certain hotel programs, you can transfer them to Southwest to get the extra 10,000 points needed for the Companion Pass or you could just buy the points needed and transfer them to Southwest.
I have had personal success with transferring Wyndham and Choice hotel points to Southwest and having them count towards the Companion Pass status, but don’t have personal experience with the other programs.
I suspect that they do currently count towards the Companion Pass status, but you may want to transfer a small amount first to confirm that they do count towards the Companion Pass before making a larger transfer.
a. Best Western
5,000 points convert to 1,200 Southwest points, so you’d need 25,000 Best Western points to earn 6,000 Southwest points.
You can buy points at $10 per 1,000 points, so 25,000 Best Western points would cost $250 to buy.
b. Choice Hotels
6,000 points convert to 1,800 Southwest points, so you’d need 33,333 Choice hotel points to get 10,000 Southwest Airline points.
But you can buy miles at $11 per 1,000 points, but are limited to only 20,000 points per year. So you’d need $198 to buy 18,000 Choice points (points are transferable only in multiples of 6,000) or 5,400 Southwest Airline miles.
This is the cheapest way among all the options to get extra ~6,000 Southwest points for the Companion Pass.
5,000 points convert to 2,400 Southwest points, so you’d need 15,000 Hyatt points to get 7,200 Southwest Airline points.
The rate varies, but 30,000 points convert to 10,000 Southwest points.
6,000 points convert to 1,200 Southwest points, so you’d need 30,000 Wyndham points to get 6,000 Southwest points.
Earn 300 points after enrolling in the dining program and spending at least $25. I don’t have personal experience with this, but am curious to learn more from readers.
Ali comments that the 300 bonus for the dining program does not count toward the Companion Pass, but miles earned from dining does.
5. Car Rental
Southwest Airlines has numerous promotions for earning miles through rental car partners.
I do know that a previous rental earned me 600 points towards the companion pass status.
Teleflora offers 1,000 Southwest points on flower purchases of $29.99. However, you don’t earn miles on the delivery charges.
7. Hotel Stays
Many hotels offer 600 Southwest miles bonus per stay, so it could make sense to earn Southwest miles for a few of your hotel stays.
8. Southwest credit card
Points earned from spending on your Southwest credit card do count towards the Companion Pass status.
To qualify for the Companion Pass, it may make sense to pay a convenience fee (~3%) to get the extra points needed for the Companion Pass. I don’t normally recommend paying a fee to use your credit card, but it could make sense to meet the minimum spending required for a sign-up bonus or for the Southwest Companion Pass.
If you’re looking for more ways to spend money on your credit card, check out the 40+ ways to meet the minimum spending on your credit card.
You also earn Companion Qualifying points by flying on Southwest.
You earn 12 points per $1 on Business Select fares, 10 points per $1 on Anytime fares, and 6 points per $1 on Wanna Get Away fares.
You’d need to spend $833 in Business Select fares, $1,000 in Anytime fares or $1,667 in Wanna Get Away fares to earn 10,000 Southwest points.
Reader Ali confims that transfers from e-rewards count towards the companion pass. But it is cumbersome to fill out e-rewards survey.
Bottom Line: The credit card sign-up bonus is still counting towards the Southwest Companion Pass, and it may be worth it to transfer points into your Southwest account to get to the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass.
If you don’t have any points to transfer, the cheapest way to get 6,000 Southwest points is to buy 18,000 Choice hotel points for $198 and then transfer them to Southwest.
Please comment if you know of other ways to earn Companion Pass qualifying points!
Disclosure: I don’t get paid any commission for the links to credit cards in this post.