Can I Transfer ‘Old’ Points to Southwest for the Companion Pass?

Jan 29, 2017

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TPG reader Leah sent me a message on Facebook to ask about earning the Southwest Companion Pass:

“If I transfer points to Southwest to earn the Companion Pass, does it matter when those points were initially earned? For example, if I were to transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned in previous years to Hyatt and then to Southwest, would Southwest consider them ‘earned’ in 2017?”

Earlier this year, Southwest announced with little warning that points from hotel loyalty programs and other partners would no longer count toward Companion Pass status. Mercifully, the airline soon reversed course, giving Rapid Rewards members through the end of March to complete eligible transfers. Until then, you can still use hotel points to help you qualify.

If you want to use Ultimate Rewards points to earn the Companion Pass, you can’t just send them directly to Southwest, since those transfers don’t count. Instead, you have to first transfer to a hotel partner (like Hyatt, Marriott or IHG), and then transfer from your hotel program to Rapid Rewards. The transfer ratios are different for each program, but they’re all lower than 1:1. You’ll end up with fewer Southwest points than you’d get by transferring from Chase, but taking that hit may be worthwhile if it means getting the Companion Pass.

Whether you’re transferring Ultimate Rewards points via a hotel program or using points already in your hotel loyalty account, it doesn’t matter when they were originally earned. Southwest doesn’t know or care how long you’ve been holding onto those points; what’s important is when they reach your Rapid Rewards account. So long as that happens before the March 31 deadline, your points will count toward the Companion Pass.

While transfers from Ultimate Rewards occur quickly, transfer times from hotel programs are unpredictable. They typically take less than a week, but the terms advise that transfers can take six weeks or more. If you’re committed to this strategy for earning the Companion Pass, I recommend transferring soon in case of delays.

Hyatt has the best hotel transfer ratio to Southwest, but points may be worth more at hotels like the Grand Hyatt Seoul.

Hyatt offers the best pure transfer ratio among those hotel programs, since you can get about 1.7:1 when you exchange 50,000 Hyatt points for 30,000 Rapid Rewards points. If you’re transferring from Ultimate Rewards and don’t have any points in your hotel account to begin with, that’s your best option. Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages are a great deal if you already have some Marriott Rewards points to work with, or if you have a lengthy (and expensive) Marriott stay already planned.

For more on the Companion Pass and how to earn it, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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