It’s Tied Up! Southwest Relents & Allows Hotel Point Transfers to Count Towards Companion Pass Temporarily

Earlier this week, I posted how it’s Southwest 1, Travel Hackers 0 as without any notice Southwest killed off the only feasible option to obtain a Companion Pass if you were over Chase’s 5/24 rule. This wasn’t too surprising as this opportunity was too good to live for long but Southwest removing this option without any notice upset a ton of people. The good news is the score is tied up Southwest 1, Travel Hackers 1 as Southwest must have taken our complaints seriously and will temporarily allow hotel point transfers to count towards the Companion Pass once again! 

This grace period only lasts through March 31, 2017 so be sure to initiate any transfers from Marriott or other program soon so the points hit before the deadline. Since the Companion Pass is valid for two years once earned the sooner you transfer the points to Southwest, the sooner you can reap the benefits of this amazing travel deal.

Kudos to Southwest for doing the right thing! Now only if other airlines/hotels/ banks would follow suit – Hey Chase can we get a temporary reprise of the 5/24 before the Reserve bonus decreases? A blogger can dream…

I’ve included the full statement from Southwest about this change.

“As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.

In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.

Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.

To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.
We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!”

(H/T TPG)

In 2017 It’s Southwest 1, Travel Hackers 0

Update: After much outcry, Southwest is allowing hotel transfers to count towards the Companion Pass to 3/31/17

I’m sure you probably saw the big news yesterday that effective 1/1 and without any warning whatsoever, Southwest will no longer count hotel transfers or bonus points from other partners towards qualification for the Companion Pass. This is pretty big news, especially for those over Chase’s 5/24 rule, as it kills an easy way to get the Companion Pass. We are only a day into 2017 and we’ve already seen the first major negative development this year.

No More Easy Companion Pass

No More Easy Companion Pass

The timing of this isn’t coincidental – the folks at Southwest are very aware of the plans many travel hackers use to earn the Companion Pass. Each plan, if you weren’t aware, involves acquiring 110,000 Southwest points as quick as possible at the beginning of the year to maximize the Companion Pass as it is good for the year it is earned in and the following year. The more popular plan was for folks to signup for 2 Southwest credit cards with a 50,000 point signup bonus and after meeting minimum spend, that would give them 104,000 points. To cover the remaining 6,000 points many people transferred points from hotel programs to Southwest and boom a Companion Pass was obtained.

The newer plan, which was discussed heavily on blogs when the Marriott-SPG merger was announced, involved redeeming 90,000 SPG Starpoints for a Companion Pass by transferring those points to Marriott (which turned into 270,000 Marriott points due to the 1:3 transfer ratio) and then redeeming the Marriott points for a flights & nights package. This gave you 120,000 Southwest points, the Companion Pass AND a 7 night stay a category 1-5 Marriott. That was a pretty amazing deal – especially if you were over Chase’s 5/24 rule and couldn’t complete the other plan. However, some would argue this was too good a deal and that is what led to Southwest cracking down on this easy way to acquire a Companion Pass.

The best way for many of you to earn the pass going forward if you are under 5/24 is to still acquire the two Southwest credit cards when the bonus is 50,000 points and put an additional $6,000 of spending on those cards. The 100,000 signup bonus points + 4,000 points for meeting the minimum spend + this extra 6,000 points in additional spend will result in the Companion Pass. If you can’t or will struggle to spend the extra $6,000 you could always use a service like Plastiq to pay bills you are normally not able to with a credit card such as a mortgage, student loan etc. They do charge 2.5% of the payment so if you had to spend all $6,000 through Plastiq, that would be $150 in fees – less if you can put normal, everyday spending on the card and only supplement the extra amount needed via Plastiq. If you are over 5/24, I think you can effectively say goodbye to earning a Companion Pass unless you have a TON of paid travel on Southwest.

With the timing of the New Year, Southwest knew very well that many people were gunning to acquire a Companion Pass at the very beginning of 2017. They effectively beat travel hackers to the game and cutoff the option while many of us were recovering from our New Year’s hangover. Therefore to start the year off let’s score it as Southwest 1, Travel Hackers 0.

*Note that is my referral link for Plastiq and for every person who registers with Plastiq via my referral link and makes a payment of at least $20, I’ll get 400 fee free dollars and you will get 200 fee free dollars. Fee free dollars are dollars that can be sent through Plastiq without any fees.

New Better Offer on Southwest Personal Premier Credit Card: 50,000 Points + $100 Statement Credit

Yesterday, I received an email from Southwest with the best offer I’ve ever seen on the personal Southwest card – 50,000 points + $100 statement credit. This offer is targeted however and the link I have for the card pre-populates my information in the application. However it might be possible for anyone to get this offer by phone.

SWCC

From my understanding there are several different offers being promoted to Rapid Rewards members including the standard 50,000 point offer on the personal Southwest card as well as a 60,000 point offer on the Southwest Business credit card. In the comments of this post from Doctor of Credit, someone was able to successfully apply for the 60,000 point offer on the business card even though they weren’t targeted as the phone number on the application was a direct line to a department that handed this special offer.

I don’t know if this will work for this offer but the phone number listed on the application is 1-866-836-0917. Interestingly enough another Southwest account that I manage only got an email with a 50,000 point offer on the personal card (no statement credit) and the phone number for that application is different from the above. So applying by phone might work to get the better offer but this is a huge YMMV situation. They might ask for an invitation number in which you try to say you accidentally deleted the email but maybe they can look up the offer for you. Do not apply for the card on the phone unless the rep confirms you are applying for the better offer which includes the statement credit. 

If that doesn’t work, then I would suggest scanning your email folders for an email from Southwest with the subject line “Rapid Rewards Member: 50,000 points + $100 statement credit”.

Did anyone have any luck getting this offer to work?

Point & Center: Book AA Off Peak Awards with US Airways Flights, Two New Hyatt Diamond Benefits & a Southwest Devaluation

It was an exciting week in the points and mile world, highlighted by the craziness of the United first class mistake fare and then the announcement United will not honor those fares. Here is a quick look at what else I missed last week that you should know about:

1) American Airlines Off-Peak Awards Now Include US Airways – I saw this post last night, which now shows that American Airlines off-peak awards, which are a fantastic value, can now include flights on US Airways metal instead of just American Airlines. As a reminder, here is the list of off-peak award destinations and dates:

AAOffPeak

The best values to me are the Europe off peak awards since the off peak period is 7 months or over half the year, including early spring which is a great time to visit Europe. By including US Airways flights now, this opens up a lot of options to Europe from either Philadelphia or Charlotte. I also like the two month window for the Caribbean/Mexico in early fall and Hawaii isn’t bad as well though from the east coast. If you live on the west coast, Avios are a better and cheaper option.

2) Hyatt Adds Two Benefits for Diamond Members In a time when you see programs devaluing, it is nice to see a positive announcement from Hyatt that Diamond members will get two new benefits starting March 1st. The first benefit is called “Guest of Honor” which allows Diamond members to book award stays for others and the guests actually staying will have Diamond status for the duration of their stay. Hyatt is basically encouraging Diamond members to treat non-Diamond members to award stays and will give non-Diamond members “a taste of the good stuff” which includes breakfast, chances at upgrades and a check-in amenity among other benefits. Hopefully you have some friends who are Diamond :).

The other benefit for Diamond members is 2 United Club one day passes annually. Certainly not a huge benefit but its nice to see Hyatt get involved with other partners in the travel space to offer a non-traditional benefit that could benefit some flyers.

3) Potential Southwest Devaluation – It’s never a good sign when an airline announces changes to its frequent flyer program, especially if the changes mentioned are little too vague and don’t give much insight to the actual changes. Southwest announced the following last week:

“Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares”

To me (and other bloggers seem to be in agreement), this news isn’t good news for the value of Southwest points. Southwest points have a fixed value of about 1.4 cents per point when used towards “Wanna Get Away Fares” but this announcement indicates there will no longer be any standard value for points. Southwest will now have the ability to increase the points required for a flight based on “other factors” so my guess is flights to popular destinations (i.e. international destinations) will now cost more and offer a poorer value on a per point basis.

4) Daily Getaways Return Early This Year – The Daily Getaways program, which is a program initiated by the US Travel Association to get more people to travel by offering discounted rates on hotels, car rentals, amusement park tickets and even the opportunity to buy point at a discounted rates, is returning this year on March 23rd. In the past, the Daily Getaways have been offered later in the spring into summer and American Express is usually listed as a sponsor which would entitle American Express cardholders 10% off on any purchase. This year the sales are moved up to the end of March and it appears you can longer save 10% by using an American Express card. The deals and packages should be unveiled by March 16th and I will cover any solid offerings on the blog.

DailyGetaways

Enjoy the rest of this long weekend!