Amex 50% Transfer Bonus to Best Western & Southwest Companion Pass Angle

by on February 3, 2014 · 26 comments

in American Express, Best Western, Southwest

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Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.

Offer expired March 9, 2014.

Amex is currently offering a 50% transfer bonus to Best Western Rewards. Instead of the normal 1:1 ratio, now through March 31, 2014, when you transfer 1,000 Amex points, you get 1,500 Best Western Rewards points

Best Western Rewards generally aren’t that valuable when redeeming for room awards- in my experience they’re worth roughly roughly .5-.8 cents in value per point when redeeming for room awards (for example 36,000 points will get you a top tier room that is $200ish dollars)  so with this transfer bonus, Amex points would be worth .75-1.2 cents a piece- nothing to really scramble over. There are certain cases where lower tier rooms get bigger bang for your point, but as a whole I don’t see huge opportunity transferring for Best Western award nights. 

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However, Best Western Rewards members can convert their hotel points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a ratio of 5,000 Best Western points to 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards.

Best Western Rewards points transfer to Southwest at 5,000:1,200.

Best Western Rewards points transfer to Southwest at 5,000:1,200.

So ordinarily, it would take 5,000 Amex points transferred to Best Western then on to Southwest to end up with 1,200 Rapid Rewards points. But for now, it would only require 3,334 Amex points for 1,200 Southwest points. So your transfer ratio here is about 2.78 to 1. Just note that Southwest imposes a limit of 10,000 miles per day according to BW’s site.

Where this gets really interesting, though, is how this can help you qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is one of the all-time great airline benefits out there since it gives you a free companion fare (plus minimal taxes), whether paying for the ticket with cash or redeeming Rapid Rewards points. The way you qualify for it is by earning 110,000 qualifying Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. Qualifying points include those earned by flying as well as from Southwest credit card bonuses and spending as well as miles earned with partners, including from hotel transfers like the above example from Best Western.

Leverage the current Southwest credit card bonuses as well.

Leverage the current Southwest credit card bonuses as well.

The interesting thing is, right now Chase and Southwest are offering sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles on the Southwest credit cards, when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. So let’s say you got the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa and spent the $2,000 requirement. You’d end up with 52,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points. That means you’d need just 58,000 more points to get the Companion Pass and it would be good for the rest of this year and all of 2015! The easiest way to get the extra 50,000+ points needed would be to apply for a business version of the card, but if you’ve already received that bonus or can’t get a second credit card, here’s a way to use Amex points to get the Companion Pass since hotel points transferred to Southwest currently count towards Companion Pass Qualification.

In order to end up with the remaining 58,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards companion pass qualifying points, you could leverage the Best Western transfer bonus as follows:

  • 162,000 Amex points = 243,000 Best Western points
  • 243,000 Best Western points = 58,320 Southwest points, which is roughly $1,050 towards Wanna Get Away Fares- if you have the companion pass that would essentially get you $2,010 in travel since the second ticket is free. Note: Southwest is devaluing their points on March 31, 2014, so the 58,320 points will be worth about $816 towards Wanna Get Away after the devaluation.

And then you’d be just over the Companion Pass threshold. Now 162,000 Amex points is a lot, but if you could leverage your spending and the credit card bonuses and transfer right now to get the Companion Pass as soon as possible, you’d have nearly 22 months of half-price flying, and that could be worth thousands of dollars. Now, that might not be worth it if you only fly a couple times a year, but if you’re a frequent Southwest flyer or can plan your travel on the airline and plan to fly extensively, we’re talking a lot of savings.For example, it would take $18,333 worth of flights in the “Wanna Get Away” fare class to earn the 110,000 points necessary for the Companion Pass. If you were to pay for those tickets with cash, it would cost an additional $18,333 to add a companion (or more if there is not always another seat available at the same fare class). Therefore, you would save at least $18,333 by starting off with a Companion Pass beforehand. If you were to earn the 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass, and use all of those points to fly with a companion on Wanna Get Away fares – where your points are worth about 1.8 cents each – then the pass would be worth about $1,800 in free travel.While I don’t think this strategy is for everyone, if Southwest is your main carrier and you’ve racked up the Amex points and want to put them to use on a potentially very valuable benefit, this could be a great way to max them out and enjoy half-price flights for almost two years.

For more information, check out these posts:

Maximize Monday: Southwest Companion Pass FAQ And Strategies
Top 11 Ways To Top Up Your Account For The Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest Points vs. Southwest Credits: When Transferring Makes Sense and How to Check Availability
Can I Get Two Southwest Cards In One Day To Qualify For A Companion Pass

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Tyler

    Interesting angle, but isn’t Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt to Southwest a better value? 100,000 UR coverts to 100,000 Hyatt points, then to 60,000 Southwest points, for a transfer ration of 1.67 to 1.

  • Ben Price

    Why are Wanna Get Away fares so much drastically cheaper than the rest? What’s the catch?

  • Rich

    I’m confused, I thought TPG said the Amex ratio on this angle is 2.78 to 1.

  • Anonymous

    The ratio here is cost not benefit, so lower is better…

  • thepointsguy

    He is talking about Chase points to Hyatt to Southwest, which is a better conversion. However, many people (myself included) value Chase points higher or people who don’t have Chase points may still want to do this method to use Amex for the companion pass

  • thepointsguy

    They’re capacity controlled- kinda like “saver” award seats on the legacy carriers. So if you can plan around them you can get the best value for your points. Otherwise redeeming for Anytime/Business Select is like redeeming for double/Peak traditional awards on legacy carriers..if that makes sense!

  • Ben Price

    Good analogy/explanation. Thanks

  • Rich

    Ahhh, thanks you guys!!

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t Chase 1:1 if you transfer directly to Southwest?

  • thepointsguy

    Yes but chase transfers do not count towards Companion pass Qualification

  • Sk

    is there a cap on how many eligible points towards a companion pass can be achieved through this said transfer from best western? could all 110,000 be from this transfer? I have TONS of amex points, hence the question. thanks

  • Sk

    I just called SW and they tell me (not sure if they are right), one can only rack up 15,000 eligible points through hotel partners. That is way different than what your article claims in its example. Please help solve the confusion. Thanks

  • thepointsguy

    I reviewed the online terms of the Companion Pass and called Southwest twice and verified with two separate agents that there is no limit, so I think the one you got might not have been fully informed.

  • thepointsguy

    Not according to 2 separate Southwest Rapid Rewards reps I spoke to today.

  • Stacy King

    On Best Western’s website it says it takes 6-8 weeks for your points to show up in your Southwest account. Bummer it takes so long! Only 3-5 days from American Express though. Thanks for this. I have both personal & Business SW cards, so just transferred enough points to cover the rest to get to 110,000. Best Western also has a cap of transferring 10,000 points a day.

  • BL

    Is there a difference between converting from Best Western and converting from other Southwest hotel partners? I tried to convert Choice Hotels points to SW and was told that transferred points did not count toward the Companion Pass. I saw this myself when the points were finally deposited in my Rapid Rewards account but did not go toward the Companion Pass. An email from SWA customer service confirmed to me that they did not count.

  • Deals We Like

    As of early January you can transfer as many points as you want from partner hotels to count towards the companion pass. I earned almost my entire companion pass (101,000 Southwest points) from transferring Wyndham points.

    Southwest customer service, unfortunately, is not very knowledgable with points that count towards the companion pass. The reps that say they do not count or that there is a limit are now knowledgeable about this.

  • Andrew

    Has anybody tried the transfer before, does it really take 6-8 weeks? I have a ton of Amex points as well, so if my math is correct, I need to transfer 307000 Amex Points to get 460500 BW points. From there, I can transfer to SW and get 110520 SW points. On BW’s website, it says “Limit 10,000 miles per day (10 transactions)”. Is that BW 10,000 or SW 10,000? Also, is it 10 transactions total or per day? thanks!

  • Winston

    That’s a terrible conversion… Essentially 1 Amex point = 0.36 Southwest point plus an uncertain waiting time. If possible, i’d like to trade my 110k Southwest points(from Chase UR points) for your 300k Amex points lol.

  • Arielle

    Wow, Andrew, with those Amex points I would plan an amazing trip to Europe!!!

  • junblaze

    If you really want the Companion Pass why don’t you apply for the Chase SW card and at least get half way there…or better yet do what i did and get both the personal an business and get VRs for the remaining 6k. You can get so much more for those Amex points

  • sk

    I have millions of amex points. For travelling to europe or Asia, n-Never been able to use amex points as well as i can my United or AA miles for Europe. How do you use amex points so well? Kindly elaborate. thanks.

    I have found amex points to be best for non-saver travel within the US, since they are a bit cheaper (because of my 20% platinum discount) than a full fare award (25k one way on AA for example).

  • Dave

    Any idea as to when the next amex to avios bonus might by coming?

  • David

    Not so. For example, in the last month, I have completed a transfer of 50,000 Hyatt points for 30,000 SWA points and they all count toward CP. I have previously transfered over 50,000 Marriott points and they also have counted toward CP. Don’t see any reason why the Best Western points wouldn’t give you the same result

  • Winston

    Thant’s a lot of Amex points! I’d suggest not using the points directly to buy airline tickets (even with the 20% discount).

    If you are traveling to Asia, you can convert those points into Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific flights, or into Krisflyer miles for Singapore Airlines flights. Both airlines, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, in my opinion, are the best two airlines in the world, with a much better service than United and AA.

    I’m not familiar with traveling to Europe. You can transfer amex points to British Airways, although BA charges high fees for transatlantic award tickets. However, BA provides an incredible value for short-haul flights within the US, since you can redeem BA points for AA flights.

  • Ryan Andrade

    I’d like to transfer the points from MY American Express Membership Rewards account ultimately to MY WIFE’s Southwest RapidRewards account. How should I do this?

    Option A: My Amex MR – > My Best Western Rewards -> Wife’s Southwest RapidRewards

    Option B: My Amex MR – > Wife’s Best Western Rewards -> Wife’s Southwest RapidRewards


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