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TPG reader Lee sent me a message on Facebook to ask about transferring points:
“I know I can transfer some hotel points to Southwest for the Companion Pass. Do the names on the accounts have to match, or could I transfer from my hotel account to my spouse’s Rapid Rewards account?”
Transferring points between hotel and airline loyalty programs generally isn’t a good idea because you sacrifice a lot of value in the process. However, there are a few exceptions, including transfers to Southwest Airlines, which can help you earn the Companion Pass. Because the pass is so valuable, it makes sense to redeem a small number of hotel points at an unfavorable rate in order to get it. If you’re planning to use this strategy, it’s important to know which transfers are eligible.
There are currently six hotel programs offering transfers to Southwest that count toward Companion Pass qualification: Marriott, Hyatt, Club Carlson, Choice, Best Western and La Quinta. Generally, the name on the hotel account must match the name on the frequent flyer account. Some programs are very strict about this and will reject transfers unless the two names are perfectly identical. In any case, transferring to a spouse’s account probably won’t work.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. While you can’t transfer directly to someone else’s frequent flyer account, you can transfer to another account within the same hotel loyalty program. Hyatt Gold Passport, Club Carlson and Best Western Rewards all allow free transfers between members, while Marriott Rewards charges a flat $10 fee per transaction that’s waived for Gold and Platinum Elite members. So, for example, Lee could transfer his Marriott points to his wife’s Marriott Rewards account, and she can then transfer to her Rapid Rewards account. It requires an extra step, but it gets the job done.
When it comes to transfers between member accounts, each program has its quirks. Hyatt makes you fill out an online form, and transfers take up to 72 hours to go through. Best Western only allows transfers between members who share an address, and Club Carlson has several restrictions that depend on your residency and elite status. Also, keep in mind that transfers to airline programs aren’t instantaneous. Make sure you know the rules before you set your plan in motion.
Once again, transferring hotel points to airline programs is not a good way to maximize your rewards (with the exception of Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages). There are plenty of opportunities to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards without flying, so I only recommend transferring if you have no other options, or if you have just a few thousand dormant hotel points and no other use for them.