Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.
TPG follower Ben is looking to qualify for Southwest’s Companion Pass, and tweeted me the following question:
“@thepointsguy are points earned towards Southwest’s Companion Pass cumulative? If you have 50,000 points, redeem 10,000 leaving a 40,000-point balance, would you now have to earn 70k or still 60k to qualify?”
To put it simply, Companion Pass qualifying points are different than regular Southwest Rapid Rewards points that you can redeem for airfare. It’s the same thing as with other airlines where award/redeemable miles are different from elite-qualifying miles. For example, with Delta Airlines, your SkyMiles are different from your Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs).
Companion Pass qualifying points are still a bit different from elite0qualifying miles on other airlines. That’s because you accrue these points from a variety of activities including flying, credit card purchases/sign-up bonuses and partner activity and will earn the Companion Pass when you hit 110,000 points or fly 100 one way flights within a calendar year.
It does not matter if you use your Rapid Rewards points towards flight redemptions – that won’t affect your Companion Pass Qualifying balance – so you don’t have to worry about having to earn back those points. The balance of your Companion Pass qualifying points never goes down (unless you do something illegal and Southwest takes them away from you) – it will only rise throughout the year as you earn more. When January 1st comes around, your Companion Pass points balance resets to zero, but you will still keep your regular/redeemable Rapid Rewards points which go by a different expiration date.
If you are going for the Companion Pass, I would recommend that you do your best to reach 110,000 points by December 31, 2013. The earlier in the year that you earn the pass, the more value you’ll get out of it since it is valid from the day you receive it through the entire following year, so if you earned it right now, it would be good from now through the end of 2014. I’ve written extensively about the Companion Pass because I think its an incredible value and one of the most lucrative benefits of any of the airline loyalty programs. If you are interested in going towards it, here are some tips to help get you there.
Update: As of November 5, 2013 50,000 point Southwest offers are back until further notice.
Get in on the 50,000-point offers: If you already got one of the 50,000-point Southwest cards this year, you can still apply for the other Southwest credit cards from Chase, which are currently offering 50,000-point sign-up bonuses when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. You can choose between the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Personal or Business cards or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Personal or Business cards. Chase allows you to get the sign-up bonus on each of their individual products, but they set a credit limit for you as a consumer so if you’ve reached that limit you may have to do some trading of other accounts to open up the new credit line. It is possible to get approved for two Southwest cards in one day so don’t be afraid to apply for more than one. The 50,000-point offers will expire August 6, 2013 so act fast!
Utilize hotel transfer partners: Southwest partners with several hotel programs where you can convert your hotel points to Rapid Rewards. If you are a member of Club Carlson you can convert your Gold Points into Rapid Rewards Points anytime:
- 2,000 Gold Points = 200 Rapid Rewards Points
- 50,000 Gold Points = 5,000 Rapid Rewards Points
- 100,000 Gold Points = 10,000 Rapid Rewards Points
Rapid Rewards Members can redeem 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for 2,400 Rapid Rewards Points. Members can also redeem 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points for 24,000 Rapid Rewards Points and receive a bonus of 6,000 additional Rapid Rewards Points for a total of 30,000 Rapid Rewards Points.
You can also redeem your Marriott Rewards points for Rapid Rewards Points.
- 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
You can also transfer Hyatt points at a ratio of 5,000 to 2,400 Rapid Rewards Points.
While the value of these conversions isn’t usually that great, if you have a few spare hotel points you know you’re not going to use and they can help you top up your Southwest account for the Companion Pass, this might be a good way to get some value out of them.
You can also earn Southwest points instead of hotel points when you stay at hotel partners including Best Western, Club Carlson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, La Quinta, Marriott, MLife, SPG, and Wyndham – usually at the rate of 600 points per stay. Southwest also has several car rental agency partners such as Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty (again you usually earn 600 points per qualifying rental), and participated in Dining Rewards Network, so you can earn points on your everyday dining, among other partners.
We’ll be doing a couple most posts this week on how to leverage the companion pass for maximum value so stay tuned. In the meantime, for more information, see these posts:
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