So it’s done: the Marriott-Starwood merger.
To be honest, they’re handling it a lot better than I thought they would. But I also get the feeling they can’t wait to destroy the program in 2018. But that’s neither here nor there.
Within the opportunity to link your Marriott and Starwood accounts, you’ll get:
- An instant status match
- The ability to transfer points instantly between both programs (3 Starwood points = 1 Marriott point)
It could be a fantastic deal if you fly Southwest a lot!
Use Starwood points to unlock the Southwest Companion Pass
- Link: Link your Starwood and Marriott accounts
- Link: Transfer Starwood points to Marriott
- Link: Marriott Hotel + Air Packages
- Link: Southwest Companion Pass
Starwood points to NOT transfer to Southwest. But if you like flying on Southwest, you can indirectly use Starwood points to earn the Southwest Companion Pass for 2 full years by transferring 90,000 Starwood points to Marriott for a Southwest Hotel + Air Package.
When you do, you’ll earn 120,000 Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott Category 1 through 5 hotel. Obvi, you’ll get the most bang for your buck at a Category 5 hotel. But you can still do well at some Category 4 hotels.
But the hotel stay is almost moot.
1 Southwest point is worth ~1.43 cents. You’ll get 120,000 Southwest points, which are worth ~$1,716 (120K x 1.43 cents).
But even better, the points you transfer do count toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass.
If you transfer the points and redeem for a package in January 2017, you’ll have the Southwest Companion Pass for a full 2 years – which means you can add a companion on ANY paid OR award ticket for only the cost of taxes and fees.
Is it worth it?
If you’re based in a Southwest hub, or a city with good Southwest service, the ability to add a companion for 2 full years is worth as much as you think you’ll use it, especially for expensive tickets like last-minute trips and during the holidays.
Even if you only use it a few times, the hundreds of dollars you’ll save can make this well worth contemplating.
In fact, as a Dallas-based flyer who lives 10 minutes from DAL, I am seriously considering doing this myself. But one huge note – wait until January 2017 to make the transfers. Because Southwest bases the Companion Pass on the year when the points are earned. If you make the transfer in 2016, you’ll only have the pass until the end of 2017.
I’d say 7 nights at a Marriott Category 5 hotel are worth ~$800 (at least).
And the 120,000 Southwest points you’ll get will be worth ~$1,716 (at 1.43 cents each).
But you can go ahead and double that because you’ll immediately earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
Plus any other flights you buy over the course of 2 years (I’ll peg this at $1,000).
So your 90,000 Starwood points get you:
- $800 on the Marriott stay
- $3,432 on Southwest award flights with the Companion Pass
- $1,000 more for your Companion on paid Southwest flights over 2 years
Which comes to $5,232. So, in essence, your 90,000 Starwood points can be worth over $5,000 depending on how much you use your Companion Pass – and which Marriott hotel your choose for your 5-night stay.
Each Starwood point, then, is worth ~6 cents each – which is a stellar deal any way you slice it – especially if you already like to fly with Southwest.
Get Starwood points
- Link: Amex SPG personal card (25,000 Starwood points)
- Link: Amex SPG business card (25,000 Starwood points)
- Link: Apply for Card Offers
If you need or want Starwood points, sign-up for one of the cards above for an injection of 25,000 points after meeting the minimum spending requirements.
Or, apply for any number of cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points which transfer to travel partners, including Marriott:
You won’t get approved for any of the Chase cards if you’ve had more than 5 open cards in the previous 24 months. But if you get one (or both, like I did) of the Amex cards and top yourself off with Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Marriott, that could be another way to get all the points you’ll need. Remember:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio
- Starwood points transfer to Marriott at 1:3 ratio (and vice versa)
So run the numbers to see if it makes sense. If you fly Southwest a lot, and have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott, or Starwood points, it could add up to be a very worthwhile deal.
I’m mulling over the possibilities this merger has created as of today, so be on the lookout for more ways to make your points worth more.
I do think this one is perhaps the best, though. In fact, I am strongly considering it myself.
But remember to wait until January 2017 before you redeem your points this way – because of how the timing on the Southwest Companion Pass works.
If you wait until 2017, you’ll get a Companion Pass good for all of 2017 and all of 2018 – and 5 free nights at a Marriott Category 1 through 5 hotel.
Starwood points don’t transfer to Southwest directly, so this is an indirect workaround that can be pretty valuable if you time it and use it right.
What do you think? Is this a good deal or nah? Will you consider doing it?* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
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- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card—Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and 3X bonus points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
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