Posted on January 9, 2018
My BEST points move of 2017
So, looking back over the past year it was pretty easy to pick out the best decision of the year for my family in the points and miles world.
The main focus of the move was to get the famed Southwest Companion Pass for the second time in 3 years, but it was a little more complicated and beneficial than just that.
The first time I got the companion pass in January of 2014 I used what I think is likely the easiest method of doing so by applying for and getting the bonus on two Chase Southwest Credit cards (I got a personal and business card at the same time). Although I applied for these in December, I made sure my spend was complete in January in order to get two full years. I wrote about this HERE, but the gist is that each gave me a 50K mile bonus after $3K in spend so I was done 106K of the 110K miles required for the pass after getting these two cards.
Anyway, on to this past year’s plan. I couldn’t get the Southwest cards again (although you can get the bonus again after 24 months) because I was WAY over Chase’s 5/24 rule where you can only have 5 new accounts of any kind (except some business cards) in a 24 months period. Because of this I needed to find another way. I knew we would be flying A LOT in 2017 so I needed to figure it out.
I decided I would used the Marriott “Hotel+Air” package transfer to accomplish this. Southwest has since discontinued allowing points transferred this way to count towards the companion pass, but it was still very much possible last January.
In general, the “Hotel+Air” Package is a pretty valuable tool and requires a certain number of Marriott points which can be changed into airline miles and a 7 night stay in a Marriott hotel. Different amount of miles and different levels of hotels cost different points. I used 270K Marriott points to get 120K Southwest miles as well a 7 night stay in a category 1-5 Marriott. See the chart below:
Before deciding to do this I did have some Marriott points but not nearly enough, so I had some work to do.
My wife and I each got the Chase Marriott Business CC (not subject to the 5/24 rule) which had a bonus of 80K points each and my wife also got the AMEX SPG Business CC which had an all time high bonus at the time of 35K points. Since SPG points transfer 1 to 3 to Marriott this was essentially a 105K Marriott points bonus.
After these bonuses alone we would have 265K Marriott points and with the points we already had and the spend that needed to go on each credit card we were easily over the 270K needed.
We changed all my wife’s points into SPG and then transferred them into my account which I then converted to Marriott. I then called up Marriott and within a few days I had 120K Southwest miles and a 7 night hotel stay. Later that week the Companion Pass showed up in my Southwest account and I was all set!
BUT, that does not explain the true value of this move, so let me break down the exact number (taking into account this is only the first year of the companion pass):
For this breakdown we will assume SW miles are worth $0.014, although it can fluctuate slightly up or down depending on the purchase price. The flights I took with the CP were a combo of cash, paid for work flight and points.
So, as you can see, we flew a good amount on Southwest this year (although it was not all our flights for 2017) which is why I wanted the pass. It also helped out our week in Cape Town, South Africa as we were able to get a nice category 5 hotel for the entire week!
When adding these up we get $6,741 that was saved in 2017, and we also have another year of the Companion Pass still (although we will be flying less)!
I have used 3 credit cards before to get crazy expensive cabins that are valued at far more than this but I never would have paid for those luxury cabins so it isn’t really fair to say those had better value. These were all flight that we really needed to take (family events, weddings, etc) and a hotel stay that was going to happen anyway, making this a real life saving amount for me. I know there is the TSA fee for each flight so the final number is a little lower than this but it would be pretty close.
I will continue to track my Southwest flights this year and we will see how much value the the whole move was over a two year span!
What was your best points/miles move of 2017?