Do you like free points? What about free Choice Hotel points that you can transfer to Southwest Airlines and DO COUNT towards companion pass?
Choice hotel is running a promotion that offers 4,000 “Privilege” points simply for signing up for an account. In addition to the 4,000 bonus (which credit as soon as you sign up) received by creating a Choice account, you can also receive an additional 4,000 points after your first paid night at any Choice Hotel property (must be booked on www.choicehotels.com by 12/31). That will give you 8,000 Choice hotel points, which is enough to earn a free night. Essentially, stay one night, get one free (if you don’t plan to transfer them to Southwest). You can also purchase Choice points for $11 per 1,000 points.
With your free 4,000 points, you could purchase 4,000 more points for only $44. That would give you a combined 8,000 points. 8,000 points will get you an award night in San Diego, at a hotel that is normally $109 plus taxes (no taxes when you use points). So, $44 in points purchased verses $109 + tax, pretty nice savings!
Choice points transfer to Southwest at a 6,000:1,800 ratio. These point transfers do count towards your companion pass total, 110,000 Southwest points. Read more on the benefits and how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass from my previous write-up.
The easiest way to obtain companion pass is to sign up for two Southwest credit cards giving you a HUGE boost in points (100k). You can sign up for all three Southwest credit cards, I know, I have all three of them (but the third is the business version). Each card will earn you up to 50,000 Southwest points and each card requires you to spend $2,000 to qualify, thus earning you 1 point per dollar (4,000 additional points). With meeting the minimum spend on two Southwest cards, you will have 104,000 points, you will need 6,000 more to qualify for the pass. Keep in mind, you must accumulate all 110k points in a single calendar year. It works best to start accumulating your points around the first of the year since you hold the companion pass for the remainder of the current year (that you hit 110k) and the entire following year. If done correctly, you could essentially have two-for-one travel for almost 24 months!
The three Southwest cards are:
• Plus ($69 annual fee)
• Premier ($99 annual fee)
• Premier Business ($99 annual fee)
You can only get the sign up bonus every 24 months for each card. Each card’s 24 month clock is 100% independent of the others’. If you signed up for the Premier card 30 months ago, you can cancel it and re-apply to receive the 50k bonus again (you will pay the annual fee again). The 24 month clock STARTS when you received the sign up bonus, not your application date. Call Chase if you are unsure of the date.
How do I sign up for a business card if I don’t have a business?
You can sign up for a business card using your SSN rather than an EIN (business ID). I used my rental property details since it is a business with income and expenses. You can get creative on a business that you have. (I am not giving financial advice). One thing I will say is DO NOT misstate your “business” income as Chase could ask to verify. Do you sell things on eBay? That is a business and you are the sole proprietor!
Chase does not always have 50,000 point credit card offers posted online. You can call Chase and ask for the 50,000 point offer and they will give it to you 95% of the time! 800-457-3649 (if you want my referral information, let me know and I will provide it, I always appreciate it!)
Okay, so you are now shy of the companion pass by just 6,000 Southwest points. Don’t give up! One thing to note, Chase Ultimate rewards from your Freedom, Ink, or Sapphire card DO NOT count towards companion pass when you transfer. Points transferred from these hotels DO COUNT towards companion pass (but you lose points in the transfer):
• Choice Hotels
• Club Carlson*
(*May require you to sign into your account)
You would need 18,000 Choice hotel points to transfer to Southwest at 6,000 points. But remember, you get 4,000 points just for signing up for a new Choice Hotels account! That means you could purchase 14,000 Privilege points for $154 and complete your climb up the companion pass ladder! I know, it sucks to have to spend $154, but if it gets you to 2-for-1 travel, it is a drop in the bucket. 110k Southwest points are worth about $1,600 in flights on Southwest, add in a free person and you now have $3,200 in free travel. This includes travel to Mexico and the Caribbean! (you just have to pay the customs fee for each traveler)
Are there any other ways to get the additional 6,000 points and meet the 110k point requirement?
• Spend $6,000 on your Southwest credit card (1 point per dollar)
• Fly Southwest on paid tickets (you earn 6 points per dollar spent on SW airfare)
• Refer a friend to sign up for a southwest credit card, earns you 5,000 per referral (preferred method since it is free)
• Earn Points at Southwest Shopping Portal
• Purchase flowers online for a friend or loved one. Every purchase of $30 or more earns you 1,000 points ($180 (6 x $30) worth of flowers earns you the needed 6,000 points, plus you are giving!)
• Earn up to 2,400 Southwest points for renting a vehicle
Remember, Southwest allows two free checked bags in addition to your carry-on. You also get free streaming TV on their WiFI equipped aircraft’s. Their planes do not have screens, you should bring your own laptop or tablet to stay occupied!
Annual Fee for Southwest Premier card: $99
Annual Fee for Southwest Plus card: $69
Cost for purchasing 14,000 Choice points: $154
$322 in fees
Value of companion pass = $3,200