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UPDATE: On January 1, 2017, Southwest changed their policy where points transferred from hotel partners to Southwest DO NOT count towards the companion pass. That means with this method I explained below, you will no longer earn the companion pass.
Earlier this week I wrote about an awesome Starwood promotion that is ending on December 31, 2016. This promotion is giving SPG members the opportunity to purchase SPG purchase SPG points with up to a 50% discount. Unfortunately though, not everyone is eligible at the 50% rate so when you sign into your account you might see a lesser offer. While this is a great opportunity to stay at Starwood hotels for less, you can instead convert the points and earn the following:
- Southwest Companion Pass (this pass will allow another person to fly with you for FREE (plus tax) an UNLIMITED number of times for the life of the pass! It is by far my favorite perk in the entire travel industry)
- $1,800 towards Southwest travel
- 7 night stay at a Marriott category 1-5 hotel
The above will only cost you $1,595, assuming you were targeted for the 50% bonus! Keep on reading to learn more about the taking advantage of this offer.
First you’ll need to enter your first and last name, SPG number, and email address to see your offer. It seems like everyone is eligible for some offer, but it could be as low as a 25% discount. If you see a 50% discount, you are in luck! Out of all the account numbers I have, about half can receive the 50% discount, while the others are between the 30-35% discount.
Use the points for the Southwest Companion Pass
Utilizing this offer for the Southwest companion pass will ONLY work if you have access to three separate accounts that are eligible for the 50% discount. While you’ll be able to take advantage with a lower discount, it will cost you more money. For now, I am doing the math assuming a 50% discount. You can purchase up to 30,000 points (per calendar year) which will cost you $525. Purchasing this on three separate accounts this will cost you a total of $1,575. It also might work if you only have one account with the 50% offer and you can purchase the points for your account and then gift to two other accounts, however, people have reported that after they’ve purchased the maximum number of points, their bonus offer decreased.
Ultimately this will net you 90,000 SPG points across your three accounts. Due to the recent merger announcement between SPG and Marriott, you can now transfer SPG points seamlessly over to your Marriott accounts at a 1:3 ratio. This means the 90,000 SPG points will net you 270,000 Marriott points between the three accounts. With Marriott, you are allowed to transfer points between different members accounts. That means you’ll need to consolidate the three 30,000 points into one account. Marriott allows you to transfer and receive up to 50,000 points per calendar year, but if you need more points to redeem for a specific award, they will allow you to exceed that cap. With Marriott it costs $10 per transfer, but if you are a Gold or Platinum member it is free.
The 270,000 points can then be redeemed for one of Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages. This will get you 120,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points plus a 7 night stay at a category 1-5 night. Of course you can redeem for a higher category, it will just require more points.Once you redeem for this award, 120,000 Rapid Reward points will be transferred over directly to your Southwest accounts. Southwest points earned this way WILL count towards the Southwest Companion Pass. To earn the Southwest Companion Pass you only need 110,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. This means the points transferred over will cover the required amount needed, plus some more. With just this simple redemption, the companion pass is yours!
Not only that, you then still have 120,000 Southwest points to redeem for free travel. Southwest points are worth approximately 1.5 cents per point. This means the 120,000 points is worth about $1,800 in free travel! And the best part is that you can use the companion pass when using your points! So if you use all 120,000 points during the life of your companion pass, you can really think of it as $3,200 in free travel!
Plus, with the Marriott redemption you’ll also receive a 7-night stay at a category 1-5 resort or hotel. This is worth it even if you do not have a 7-night stay and just need it for some of the nights.
The Process & The Math
- Buy 90,000 SPG points for $1,575 (30,000 points on 3 different accounts)
- Transfer the points to the respective Marriott accounts (1 SPG point = 3 Marriott points)
- Consolidate the three Marriott points into one account for $20 (or free if you are Marriott Gold/Platinum) and end up with 270,000 Marriott points
- Redeem the 270,000 Marriott points for Hotel + Air Package 3 (7-nights at a category 1-5 Marriott + 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points)
TOTAL COST = $1,595
- The 120,000 Southwest points will earn you a Companion Pass, which I will value at $1,800 (of course everyone will have a different valuation depending on how you use it)
- The 120,000 Southwest points will get you approximately a fixed value of $1,800 in Southwest travel
- The 7-night stay at a category 1-5 Marriott is valued at a conservative $750 (I assumed a 5-night stay at $150/night).
TOTAL VALUE = $4,350
Overall, this is a great ROI IF you have use for the Southwest points and Companion Pass. Even if you do not have a real need for the Marriott hotel voucher, you are still ahead with the other two perks. And keep in mind, there are many other ways to get an amazing value this SPG 50% discount, such as cheaper Starwood hotel stays or transferring to partner airlines. This is just one example which can play out well for many.
Just remember that the Southwest companion pass is valid for the year you earn it plus the entire following year. Make sure you wait until January 1, 2017 to redeem the points. This will ensure you then have the pass for all of 2017 and 2018.
Keep in mind, as of today points transferred over from hotel partners DO count towards the Southwest Companion pass. That could always change without any prior notice.
For those new to the Southwest Companion Pass, here if everything you’d ever want to know!
- What is a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
- How to Earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
- Getting Two Southwest Credit Cards to Count Towards the Companion Pass
- Earning Partner Points to Count Towards the Companion Pass
- Changing your Companion with the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass
- Top 20 Questions for the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass