Big Negative Change to Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass is easily one of the best deals in airline travel and the ease with which it can be obtained has long had most of us wondering when Southwest would close off some of those easy paths. Well, as of yesterday, they have gone and done just that. They eliminated one of the ways to earning the Southwest Companion Pass – the transfer of hotel and rental car points for the Companion Pass.
This is likely in response to what was one of the best byproducts of the Marriott/SPG merger – the ability to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, 120,000 Southwest points, and 7 nights in a Marriott hotel all for only 90,000 Starpoints.
I wrote about this awesome value a few months ago and I know many people had taken advantage of it. However, I also mentioned in the post that “It is conceivable that at some point, Southwest may no longer count Marriott Reward points toward qualification of the Companion Pass. I would think this would be a decision that is met with a lot of unhappy customers so it could be something they would have to mention someplace first.
If the first part is not a concern, I would wait until January 1, 2017 to initiate your package. This will allow you to take advantage of 2 full years of the Southwest Companion Pass. Remember, you can switch your points back and forth between the SPG and Marriott programs so you don’t have to worry about them getting stuck in one program or another.”
I was right that Southwest would halt the counting of points from Marriott points towards the Southwest Companion Pass but I was wrong that they would do it without notice. Effective January 1, 2017, here are the updated terms of their rules for the program regarding the Companion Pass (bolding mine):
Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.
This means that, not only Marriott points, the points from any hotel program will no longer count for the Southwest Companion Pass. This is a huge disappointment, especially for the people that had purchased SPG points with the plan of converting them to Southwest for this reason.
Credit Card Bonus Points
But, I am not sure if it included the other language before either – that partner bonus points from the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards do count for the Companion Pass! We always knew that they did and also worried that it would someday go away as well. But, at least for now, the bonus points from Southwest credit cards toward the Companion Pass are safe.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone was surprised that this change to earning the Southwest Companion Pass came, but I do think we were surprised that it was an instant change with no warning. I think that demonstrates how caught they were with the amount of people who were using the new Marriott/SPG deal to get the pass. I am sure that Southwest was not really able to make a change like this before the earning of the pass for next year (January 1) without affecting many people that were not even aware of the SPG loohope. Still, it stinks for sure, especially for those who had bought points.
Did you transfer your points to get the Southwest Companion Pass?