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Update 1/4/17 11:07pm: Southwest has generously reversed this decision — temporarily — giving members an opportunity to transfer hotel points by March 31, 2017 to earn the Companion Pass through 2018.
Update 1/1/17 2:56pm: Southwest has provided the following statement confirming the change:
We’re working to protect the integrity and value of Southwest’s industry-unique Rapid Rewards® Companion Pass by closing a loophole that previously allowed Members to transfer mileage and points from other partner loyalty programs toward qualification for a Companion Pass. As we closed this loophole, we also updated our terms and conditions which now clarifies that points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.
Major news on the Southwest Companion Pass front — effective today, January 1, 2017, Marriott and other hotel point transfers to Southwest will no longer count toward qualification for the Companion Pass.
We’ve confirmed this news via multiple Southwest phone agents, who were able to share portions of a memo regarding the change. According to the memo, “transfers from our [Southwest] partners (i.e. Marriott) will no longer count towards a Companion Pass. This change is being made to exclude currencies transferred as a method of loyalty qualification, which is an industry standard practice and is one shared by all our loyalty partners.”
One agent clarified that Visa activity will still count, though it is not yet clear if that includes bonus points earned for signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. However, based on our conversation with the agent, it appears the intention with this change is to eliminate currency conversions from applying — meaning when points are simply exchanged from one program to another instead of being earned. We’ve reached out to the airline for clarification.
This change is not completely unexpected, as points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards have never counted towards the pass. However, the change coming at exactly this moment is definitely unfortunate, as a Companion Pass earned today would be valid for both all of 2017 and all of 2018. Also, the transfer ratio between Starwood and Marriott made it possible to get a pass for only 90,000 SPG points — that option has been eliminated with this change.
H/T: Clay M.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
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