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

Feb. 03, 2014
6 min read
Amex 50% Transfer Bonus to Best Western & Southwest Companion Pass Angle
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

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.

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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.

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
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