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It was a roller coaster 72 hours at the beginning of January. Hours after the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, Southwest announced that points transferred from a hotel program would no longer count towards earning the Companion Pass. Then, a few days later, the airline reversed the decision by giving a three-month window when transferred hotel points would still count. Now, members have through March 31 to earn this incredible perk through hotel transfers — and many of you may be planning to take advantage.
After reversing my devastation and with my hopes quickly rejuvenated, I transferred 270,000 Marriott points to Southwest as fast as I could get to a computer. A mere 48 hours later, I had 120,000 Southwest points in my Rapid Rewards account and my son added as my companion. Any time he flies with me, whether I pay cash or points, he will only cost a minimal amount of taxes and fees through Dec 31, 2018. With this newfound ability to save a tremendous amount on airfare, I began booking our trips.
After two weeks of holding the Companion Pass, I have the following itineraries booked with Southwest points. For each itinerary, I’ve listed the total trip cost in points and taxes which cover my wife, myself, my son as a free companion and my infant daughter who does not yet need her own ticket. All itineraries are round-trip and nonstop:
Baltimore — Phoenix: 52,634 points and $16.80
Washington Reagan — Chicago Midway: 28,464 points and $16.80
Washington Dulles — Atlanta: 17,880 points and $16.80
Washington Reagan — Orlando: 16,004 points and $16.80
Baltimore — Panama City, FL: 53,510 points and $16.80 (over Fourth of July week)
That’s five round-trip tickets for three people (plus a free baby) for 168,492 Southwest points. That averages out to 5,616 points per person per flight; an incredible bargain for any award ticket. The Companion Pass has so far saved me from spending an additional 84,246 points for my son to fly with us on these itineraries.
Valuing Southwest points at 1.5 cents each and given that Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based rewards program, that means I’ve saved $1,264 out of my pocket on airfare for my son, in only two weeks of having the pass. The fact that all the flights I’ve booked are on the exact dates we wanted, are nonstop with a young traveling family, and include a nonstop itinerary to the Florida Gulf over the 4th of July holiday week isn’t reflected in the dollars and cents saved, but adds tremendous value to our trips.
One could argue I wouldn’t be traveling as much in the first place if I didn’t hold the Companion Pass, but all of the booked trips were on our schedule before I knew I could still earn it. By comparison, trying to book three people award tickets for the above trips using American or United miles, if all flights were available at the Saver level (which they aren’t), would cost 375,000 miles. We’d need to connect at least part of the time, and most certainly there wouldn’t even be three seats available on some dates.
After only two weeks with this incredible perk, I’m a Companion Pass believer. Make sure you check out all the ways you can earn the Companion Pass in 2017.
How are you putting your Companion Pass to use this year?
The Points Guy Assessment:
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards