Companion Pass

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that sometime here in March, Marriott/Southwest (not sure which) is going to stop the rewarding of the Southwest Companion Pass when following the steps below.  Hopefully this will still be of use to peoples before they stop.

Today, I’m writing about how I just got another couple years with the beloved Southwest Companion Pass.  Unlike before, where I received the pass from using credit cards, this time around, I used a bunch of Marriott points that I acquired.  Either way you choose to go about getting the pass, it isn’t too hard.  Let’s dive into the details.

What is this Southwest Companion Pass?

First off, let’s talk about why this pass is so great.  The perk of this pass is that on almost every flight that the holder of the pass is on, they can take their designated companion for the price of taxes and fees.  Domestically, this is the $5+ TSA fee that we see on all our tickets.  Internationally, it’s a bit more, but nothing more than $100.  The great thing is, it doesn’t matter how the holder acquires their ticket.  You could use your own miles or cash, some other persons, or even your company.  On all those flights, the companion can go for close to free.  So, my designated companion wants to go on a flight and they have miles.  It makes more sense for them to book my ticket, and then I can take them for close to nothing and we then get to double the value of those miles or the cash to get the ticket.  Pretty freak’n sweet!

How I’ve Received It Before

To earn the Southwest Companion Pass, one needs to get 110,000 miles on Southwest.  You could go and fly a ton through the year, but flying 110,000 miles is quite a lot for the majority of people.  Another option that I’ve done before is to sign up with two Southwest credit cards that will earn you 50,000 miles after $2,000 spent on each card.  So, you’d spend $2,000 on your normal every day things, treating it like cash, and you’d gain 2,000 miles each card from spending.  You’d also get 50K miles for each card, leaving you at 104,000 miles.  The last 6,000 miles could be earned by spending, by transferring in from some partners (ex. Marriott), or you could sign up for a third credit card (business perhaps), that’ll score you another 52K miles (not a bad option, as you’ll then have 156,000 miles to use on SW with your companion).

How I Did It This Time

This time around, I chose to go a different path.  Mainly because Chase has tightened up the number of cards I’ve been able to get from them lately, so I had to get creative.

If you have a bunch of Marriott points like I do did.  You can transfer those points to Southwest and they’ll count towards your miles for the Companion Pass.  Thing is, Marriott points aren’t worth as much as Southwest miles, so you’d need a lot for the pass.

10,000 Marriott Rewards points = 2,000 Rapid Rewards points
20,000 Marriott Rewards points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards points
30,000 Marriott Rewards points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards points
70,000 Marriott Rewards points = 25,000 Rapid Rewards points
140,000 Marriott Rewards points = 50,000 Rapid Rewards points

So, for 110,000 miles on Southwest, you’d need 140K + 140K + 30K, or 310K – ouch!

Wow, 310,000 Marriott points for 110,000 miles and the Companion Pass.  That’s a LOT of points…there must be a better way!

Don’t you worry – there is!

I kept hearing about Marriott’s Flight and Hotel Packages.  The great thing about these, is they let you use Marriott points (a lot) to secure a 6-night stay in a Marriott hotel PLUS they convert to miles on a number of different airlines.

If you happen to want United miles for example, they give you a 10% bonus on top of it.  All the other airlines have some different point structures.

Since we’re wanting the Companion Pass, we want the Southwest Airlines redemption.

As you can see above, to get the miles we need for the Companion Pass (110,000 miles), we’ll need to spend at least 270,000 Marriott points.  Not much less than the 310,000 we saw by just transferring above, however this comes with that free 6-night stay at a Marriott property.  Bonus!

The great thing about this, is that you have an entire year to use your 6-night certificate (at one location).  So, you could use this to stay just a few nights, or the full six, but that’s up to you and your schedule.  I recommend starting at the Cat 1-5 level, as you can just pay the difference in points later if you want to move up (30,000 per level).

If you’ve already earned 10,000 miles on Southwest this year, then you could just do the 250K option for 100,000 miles, but again, that’s really up to you.

That’s pretty much what I did, I waited until the beginning of this month and now I have until the end of March 2018 to use my certificate, but in the mean time, I got 120,000 miles and that amazing Companion Pass for 270,000 Marriott points.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve got a surplus of points with Marriott, then I’d make this happen.  I ended up having a bunch from the Ritz-Carlton card (140K), and the Marriott card (80K), along with points from other things.  Before I made the order, I did have to transfer 7,000 SPG points to Marriott for 21,000 points (1:3 conversion).

I’m stoked for some 1/2 priced travel with someone I designate as a companion.  They let you change it a few times a year, so that leaves me some options.

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Categories: Travel Hacking

Jason

Jason has been writing his adventures for a number of years now. This his stab at travel blogging. He's the main contributor for Jason Gets Around since it's him actually going places. He is a traveler, an adventurer, story teller, kickball player, a pool shark, a software engineer, and now most recently, a licensed pilot.

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