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Strategizing for 2017 SW Companion Pass using Marriot Travel Packages

heavenlyjane

Level 2 Member
#1
I am trying to figure out how to earn a SW Companion pass in early 2017, without having to earn the 110,000 miles through slow credit card spending. Specifically I want to try to amass enough Marriott points so that in January 2017, I am able to buy the 270,000-point Marriott Hotel + Air Package, which would net me 120,000 SW Rapid Reward points and a week in a cat 1-5 Marriott hotel.

I think I can pull it off with a balance of transfering points from husband's accounts and/or from other reward programs. The table below is how I plan to amass 270,000 Marriott points (sorry Excel screenprint is so big).

QUESTIONS:
  1. Am I missing other sources of Marriott or SPG points? I have buckets of points in other programs but am loathed to give up airline points.
  2. Am I missing a better use of AMEX MRs? I have had these points sitting around for more than year.
Thanks!

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Table for Marriott Travel Packages (SW option)
 

sriki

Level 2 Member
#2
I'm not sure if Amex-SPG-Marriott is the "best" use. I would consider Marriott Biz CC (not under 5/24) to add to your Marriott balance. There is a 30k SPG personal offer floating around too.
 

heavenlyjane

Level 2 Member
#3
I'm not sure if Amex-SPG-Marriott is the "best" use. I would consider Marriott Biz CC (not under 5/24) to add to your Marriott balance. There is a 30k SPG personal offer floating around too.
I've already earned the SPG personal bonus before so I'm not eligible for a second stab at it.

The Marriott Business card is a good suggestion. Currently we are at our limit on spending with 2 Platinum Delta cards and a Brit Air card that need a lot of spending in the next few months. I was trying to qualify for the SW Companion Pass without needing to do more spending.
 

Josh F

Level 2 Member
Charity Forum Mod
#4
I'm not impressed with Amex MR Transfer Partners in general. There was a targeted Amex to SPG 50% bonus, may be worth checking to see if you were targeted (not sure if it's expired or not). It's a technical "bad transfer" - but you're winding up with a bunch of Southwest Points, a companion pass, and a Marriott Stay - so that's pretty good overall IMO. My Southwest Strategy usually consists of 1 50K Southwest CC Sign Up then 100K UR Transfer to 100K Hyatt to 60K Southwest. It's easy and simple. I lose 40K UR in the process, but I more than make that up with the Companion Pass Usage.

1 thing you can try for (if it fits your situation) is the 5 night Travel Package. Technically available only to Timeshare Properties, but in the past people have had success (not sure if they've closed this loophole or not). I think if you can spare a Credit Card Signup, an additional Marriott Card might be better in order to save your Amex, but if you can't find a usage for them anyhow...
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
#5
I'm not impressed with Amex MR Transfer Partners in general. There was a targeted Amex to SPG 50% bonus, may be worth checking to see if you were targeted (not sure if it's expired or not). It's a technical "bad transfer" - but you're winding up with a bunch of Southwest Points, a companion pass, and a Marriott Stay - so that's pretty good overall IMO. My Southwest Strategy usually consists of 1 50K Southwest CC Sign Up then 100K UR Transfer to 100K Hyatt to 60K Southwest. It's easy and simple. I lose 40K UR in the process, but I more than make that up with the Companion Pass Usage.

1 thing you can try for (if it fits your situation) is the 5 night Travel Package. Technically available only to Timeshare Properties, but in the past people have had success (not sure if they've closed this loophole or not). I think if you can spare a Credit Card Signup, an additional Marriott Card might be better in order to save your Amex, but if you can't find a usage for them anyhow...
My experience is the 5 day package avenue loophole is pretty closed. I am Marriott Platinum and had no luck getting one despite numerous HUCAs.
 

heavenlyjane

Level 2 Member
#6
I'm not impressed with Amex MR Transfer Partners in general. There was a targeted Amex to SPG 50% bonus, may be worth checking to see if you were targeted (not sure if it's expired or not). It's a technical "bad transfer" - but you're winding up with a bunch of Southwest Points, a companion pass, and a Marriott Stay - so that's pretty good overall IMO. My Southwest Strategy usually consists of 1 50K Southwest CC Sign Up then 100K UR Transfer to 100K Hyatt to 60K Southwest. It's easy and simple. I lose 40K UR in the process, but I more than make that up with the Companion Pass Usage.
I think my Chase CC apporama days are behind me. I have so many recent new accounts and a gazillion that are Chase brands. The 5/24 rule was made with me in mind, I think.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#8
Josh, I agree with you. I don't see any other sweet spot transfer for these MR points. Please someone point out what I am missing.
I don't know about sweet spots, but I just transferred a bunch of MR into Aeroplan to get *A flights I needed. Worked for me and I didn't have to burn my UR stash. I've transferred to BA too, but I committed too many at one time; only used some of them.
 

FindAWay

Level 2 Member
#9
If you have any concern about losing value of UR and/or Membership Rewards that you're transferring, then keep in mind that you can buy Marriott points for $0.0125 per point (up to 50k per account per calendar year). Purchasing points may not be the best deal; but, if you can get better than 1.25 cents of value out of your UR or Membership Rewards other ways (e.g., you have CSR and can get 1.5 from flight redemptions or have Biz Plat and can get 2.0 from flight redemptions), then may be worth considering.
 
#10
I already transferred my husband's MR points. I possibly could have gotten a better redemption but I can hardly put a value on having the SW Comp Pass. We travel at least twice a month, almost always on SW.
 

Glenn

Level 2 Member
#11
The only thing I've ever used MR points for was to transfer to *A back when that was a thing. Then I'd use them to book AA flights. The problem of course is that you can only book SAAver level award inventory, which tends to be completely unavailable many many months ahead of the flight and only opens up in dribs and drabs. So you often have to book one seat at a time, and even one leg at a time. Giant pain. At least for first class travel which is what we use this for. Doesn't mean its worth it.
 
#12
I am trying to figure out how to earn a SW Companion pass in early 2017, without having to earn the 110,000 miles through slow credit card spending. Specifically I want to try to amass enough Marriott points so that in January 2017, I am able to buy the 270,000-point Marriott Hotel + Air Package, which would net me 120,000 SW Rapid Reward points and a week in a cat 1-5 Marriott hotel.

I think I can pull it off with a balance of transfering points from husband's accounts and/or from other reward programs. The table below is how I plan to amass 270,000 Marriott points (sorry Excel screenprint is so big).
I'm in a similar boat and have made my (fairly similar) choices to load up my Marriott account... now it's a matter of waiting until 1/1/2017 and seeing if SW is still accepting this as CP qualifying...

Good luck to all of us!
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#13
I posted questions in a self-created, related "other" thread, but just to cover all of the bases, are there limits to any of these transfer avenues? I see on the Marriott site that there is a 50k purchase AND transfer in limit per year, yes? I'm trusting, hoping, praying that this does not count SPG transfers into. Anyone know? TIA.
 

Suzie

Level 2 Member
#14
Just called to book flight and reward package and was told to call back Tuesday. Anyone else? I called 800-321-7396. Is there a way to do this on line?
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#18
I had no luck on two calls today. Knew something was up.
I don't know though. I don't read this as the Marriott nights + flights are dead, and that you still don't get 120k SW RR points, just that they're not going to give you the CP for that. The fact that Marriott is dodging calls might still just be a holiday thing. No?

The nights+flights deal still looks like it would be lucrative, or worth some more calculations at least. If there's no CP, I will probably look at the United angle to see what it's about. Certainly I had proven to myself that the CP gained in this deal could be very valuable.
 

Suzie

Level 2 Member
#19
I don't know though. I don't read this as the Marriott nights + flights are dead, and that you still don't get 120k SW RR points, just that they're not going to give you the CP for that. The fact that Marriott is dodging calls might still just be a holiday thing. No?

The nights+flights deal still looks like it would be lucrative, or worth some more calculations at least. If there's no CP, I will probably look at the United angle to see what it's about. Certainly I had proven to myself that the CP gained in this deal could be very valuable.
My whole reason for attempting was for CP. we used it a lot for visiting family. I didn't really care about the 7 night as we rarely stay in one place that long. I'm so bummed.
 
#20
I don't know though. I don't read this as the Marriott nights + flights are dead, and that you still don't get 120k SW RR points, just that they're not going to give you the CP for that. The fact that Marriott is dodging calls might still just be a holiday thing. No?

The nights+flights deal still looks like it would be lucrative, or worth some more calculations at least. If there's no CP, I will probably look at the United angle to see what it's about. Certainly I had proven to myself that the CP gained in this deal could be very valuable.
I had a gut feeling this was going to be toasted... WAY too much promotion of it, especially the "purchase miles (for a healthy commission for my blog!) -> transfer" angle.

I'm really hoping the Nights+Flights packages still work, but I'm dubious... would love to hear from anyone else if it still works or not.

Sigh.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#21
I had a gut feeling this was going to be toasted... WAY too much promotion of it, especially the "purchase miles (for a healthy commission for my blog!) -> transfer" angle.

I'm really hoping the Nights+Flights packages still work, but I'm dubious... would love to hear from anyone else if it still works or not.
It was SW that made the change to the way it credits the RR miles you earn from the nights+flights deal; so far Marriott's rules are the same. Right? I see no indication that anything else has changed except for how SW accounts for the miles transferred into your RR account.

Given that, I've done the math for my own plan and following through with getting a 7 day package, modified to get 132k United miles for the flights part, is not an attractive proposition. To me, it looks rather break-even-ish, and a 7 day Marriott stay cert is NOT something my normal travel plans would make use of.

In my employer's private travel forum a women was telling me how easy it is to leverage SW miles and how far they can go. I guess I should still take a look (as I've never taken a SW flight myself, never attractive, although would have been with a CP). But the award costs she quoted (from her personal experience) were impressive and still might make for a year of domestic visits we could make use of. Certainly the excitement is all over, tho.
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
#22
It's clearly WR making the changes because of the Marriott transfer in option with the packages. What will be interesting is to see if the Marriott packages are also dead or not too. I booked two after the merger, the most recent during the Aeroplan bonus from hotel point transfers a couple of weeks ago. The 3x Starwood transfer valuation created a lot of unintended consequences for these different options. I figured as soon as someone caught up with its outsize value, like everything else it would be gone.
 

btbane

Level 2 Member
#25
I was really excited to wake up this morning and see that they extended the date! My dad travels 100+ nights per year at Marriott and has a huge stash of points but never really maximizes them. I finally got him interested in points and miles a bit with this companion pass transfer option for him and my mom, so it was disappointing to see that get closed.
 

btbane

Level 2 Member
#26
It's clearly WR making the changes because of the Marriott transfer in option with the packages. What will be interesting is to see if the Marriott packages are also dead or not too. I booked two after the merger, the most recent during the Aeroplan bonus from hotel point transfers a couple of weeks ago. The 3x Starwood transfer valuation created a lot of unintended consequences for these different options. I figured as soon as someone caught up with its outsize value, like everything else it would be gone.
I may be wrong, but I feel like the travel packages by Marriott should be here to stay for awhile. I could certainly see them devaluing it by raising the points or altering the structure of it, because like you said it really is a deal that has some outsized value, especially during transfer bonuses. However, because both Marriott and Starwood have packages like this, I feel like there would be too much of a backlash if they completely eliminated it, especially given the concern that all the Starwood loyalists already have heading into the merger.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#27
Question on this as I try to figure out if this is worth getting for us THIS YEAR. I've already got 2017 trips booked that I won't give up. There is very little time off left to make use of. Next year is pretty open, but do I give up an international trip (or 2) to maximize the use of this? Still thinking.

What are the details with regards to the hotel choice? I call into Marriott and say I want a package. Do I pick the hotel right then and there? I'm hearing they issues a 7 night certificate for the hotel part. Is this dedicated to a specific hotel, or is the world wide-open to use this later?

And if it's a 7 day open cert when does it expire? After 1 year? TIA.
 

btbane

Level 2 Member
#28
When I was considering this, I was thinking about maximizing it for the Caribbean or maybe Central America. Not my typical go to international destinations, but there are some international opportunities to use it for.

My understanding of the Marriott package is that you are given a certificate but do not have to redeem at that time and can even later pay additional points to upgrade the package to a higher category hotel (would love to hear if someone has done this). I believe the other restriction on the use is that there needs to be award availability for each day you plan to use the certificate. The certificate is valid for a year, but I have heard rumors that people have had success extending (wouldn't count on it though).
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#29
When I was considering this, I was thinking about maximizing it for the Caribbean or maybe Central America. Not my typical go to international destinations, but there are some international opportunities to use it for.

My understanding of the Marriott package is that you are given a certificate but do not have to redeem at that time and can even later pay additional points to upgrade the package to a higher category hotel (would love to hear if someone has done this). I believe the other restriction on the use is that there needs to be award availability for each day you plan to use the certificate. The certificate is valid for a year, but I have heard rumors that people have had success extending (wouldn't count on it though).
Well, that's what I wanted to hear. Thanks. As I said, I am booked for 2017 and to have to figure out how to squeeze a 7 day trip into what I already have would have been rough. If I can save the cert for early 2018 (assuming I convert my points in March) then it could be advantageous. Particularly if that cert works in New Zealand or as a remote second choice, Chile. And even if I couldn't use it for a full 7 days (like @Suzie, our plans rarely have us in the same place for that long a stretch). If the cert can be used separately from the SW flights we'd be taking that might work better. It seems to still be an attractive deal even with my personal restrictions this year.

I should save this for my other thread ... I'll have to post an update there, too. I had applied for the Marriott Biz card on 12/28 - went to pending; I was supposed to call in. All this in my planning for 2018. When I heard the news that the CP was gone via this technique, I was pissed that I had wasted a hard pull and potentially a new account for 80k Marriott points. I was sorta-kinda hoping I would be denied if I didn't call. After seeing this new news, I went ahead and called in. After confirming my identity I was informed that I was already approved ... I was before I called in. So there's that. I suppose I should try for my wife, too, and save my SPG/MR points as much as possible. Will do that this evening.
 
#30
Well, that's what I wanted to hear. Thanks. As I said, I am booked for 2017 and to have to figure out how to squeeze a 7 day trip into what I already have would have been rough. If I can save the cert for early 2018 (assuming I convert my points in March) then it could be advantageous. Particularly if that cert works in New Zealand or as a remote second choice, Chile. And even if I couldn't use it for a full 7 days (like @Suzie, our plans rarely have us in the same place for that long a stretch). If the cert can be used separately from the SW flights we'd be taking that might work better. It seems to still be an attractive deal even with my personal restrictions this year.

I should save this for my other thread ... I'll have to post an update there, too. I had applied for the Marriott Biz card on 12/28 - went to pending; I was supposed to call in. All this in my planning for 2018. When I heard the news that the CP was gone via this technique, I was pissed that I had wasted a hard pull and potentially a new account for 80k Marriott points. I was sorta-kinda hoping I would be denied if I didn't call. After seeing this new news, I went ahead and called in. After confirming my identity I was informed that I was already approved ... I was before I called in. So there's that. I suppose I should try for my wife, too, and save my SPG/MR points as much as possible. Will do that this evening.
The miles and certificate are completely separate - the miles issue to your WN RR account, and the certificate via Marriott MR.

I felt like I just won the lottery upon seeing this news this morning, FWIW... extremely kind move by WN, reinforces my appreciation of them as a company.
 

btbane

Level 2 Member
#31
Well, that's what I wanted to hear. Thanks. As I said, I am booked for 2017 and to have to figure out how to squeeze a 7 day trip into what I already have would have been rough. If I can save the cert for early 2018 (assuming I convert my points in March) then it could be advantageous. Particularly if that cert works in New Zealand or as a remote second choice, Chile. And even if I couldn't use it for a full 7 days (like @Suzie, our plans rarely have us in the same place for that long a stretch). If the cert can be used separately from the SW flights we'd be taking that might work better. It seems to still be an attractive deal even with my personal restrictions this year.

I should save this for my other thread ... I'll have to post an update there, too. I had applied for the Marriott Biz card on 12/28 - went to pending; I was supposed to call in. All this in my planning for 2018. When I heard the news that the CP was gone via this technique, I was pissed that I had wasted a hard pull and potentially a new account for 80k Marriott points. I was sorta-kinda hoping I would be denied if I didn't call. After seeing this new news, I went ahead and called in. After confirming my identity I was informed that I was already approved ... I was before I called in. So there's that. I suppose I should try for my wife, too, and save my SPG/MR points as much as possible. Will do that this evening.
Just be aware that Marriott doesn't have a footprint in New Zealand. They do have some hotels in Santiago, Chile. (Courtyard Cat 5 or Renaissance & Marriott Cat 6). Apparently a new AC hotel coming over the summer as well.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#32
Just be aware that Marriott doesn't have a footprint in New Zealand. They do have some hotels in Santiago, Chile. (Courtyard Cat 5 or Renaissance & Marriott Cat 6). Apparently a new AC hotel coming over the summer as well.
Great point. I do see they have hotels in Cape Town (my Sept trip) ... but I had Club Carlson penciled in for our 4 nights there (itinerary is not yet fixed). Then there is the option to try and get the cert extended. I'll keep poking around with ideas. Thanks!
 

Suzie

Level 2 Member
#33
Well, that's what I wanted to hear. Thanks. As I said, I am booked for 2017 and to have to figure out how to squeeze a 7 day trip into what I already have would have been rough. If I can save the cert for early 2018 (assuming I convert my points in March) then it could be advantageous. Particularly if that cert works in New Zealand or as a remote second choice, Chile. And even if I couldn't use it for a full 7 days (like @Suzie, our plans rarely have us in the same place for that long a stretch). If the cert can be used separately from the SW flights we'd be taking that might work better. It seems to still be an attractive deal even with my personal restrictions this year.

I should save this for my other thread ... I'll have to post an update there, too. I had applied for the Marriott Biz card on 12/28 - went to pending; I was supposed to call in. All this in my planning for 2018. When I heard the news that the CP was gone via this technique, I was pissed that I had wasted a hard pull and potentially a new account for 80k Marriott points. I was sorta-kinda hoping I would be denied if I didn't call. After seeing this new news, I went ahead and called in. After confirming my identity I was informed that I was already approved ... I was before I called in. So there's that. I suppose I should try for my wife, too, and save my SPG/MR points as much as possible. Will do that this evening.
I just got off the phone with Marriott ordering my hotel and air package. I had reserved a 7 night stay before calling in. The agent "reinstated" the points to my account and then issued the package (same stay). I asked what would happen if I needed to cancel the hotel and she said that the hotel points of the package would be reinstated to my account but would need to be used one year from today. She also emphasized that once the airline points were transferred they were non refundable. Okay, then!

What I didn't ask and wish I did was whether or not an upgraded hotel was possible if I used more points. I have read that this is possible. Also, rather than waste the 7 nights - I've read that you can stay less nights, but you still have to be able to book a 7 night.

Getting the CP is wonderful for me. My "family" locations are both on WN routes - BWI-AUS and BWI-CVG - I'm estatic!

And PS - the number to call is 801-468-4000.
 

heavenlyjane

Level 2 Member
#34
We're thinking about 7 nights at the Renaissance Curaçao Resort next Christmas-to-New Years.
I just got off the phone with Marriott ordering my hotel and air package. I had reserved a 7 night stay before calling in. The agent "reinstated" the points to my account and then issued the package (same stay). I asked what would happen if I needed to cancel the hotel and she said that the hotel points of the package would be reinstated to my account but would need to be used one year from today. She also emphasized that once the airline points were transferred they were non refundable. Okay, then!

What I didn't ask and wish I did was whether or not an upgraded hotel was possible if I used more points. I have read that this is possible. Also, rather than waste the 7 nights - I've read that you can stay less nights, but you still have to be able to book a 7 night.

Getting the CP is wonderful for me. My "family" locations are both on WN routes - BWI-AUS and BWI-CVG - I'm estatic!

And PS - the number to call is 801-468-4000.
My understanding is you can upgrade the hotel by paying the point differential.
 
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GetawaysRus

Level 2 Member
#35
What I didn't ask and wish I did was whether or not an upgraded hotel was possible if I used more points. I have read that this is possible.
Seek and ye shall find. There is a long and active thread in the Marriott forum over at FlyerTalk: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marr...rds/1403715-marriott-travel-packages-102.html

After opening the thread, do a search on a word such as "upgrade." (Look for "Search this thread.") The answer to your question is yes. You'll find this discussed numerous times in that thread. For those who don't yet know what hotel they might use, but are anxious to get in on a SW companion pass now, you should be able to get a Marriott cat 1-5 package now and upgrade it later (using additional MR points) if the hotel you subsequently choose is a higher category.

You can also apparently downgrade a certificate as well. For example, look at post #1245 on page 83 of that thread, which is a recent post from October 2016.