Over the past few months I wrote about a strategic way to to earn the Southwest Companion Pass by purchasing SPG points. During the months of October, November, and December, Starwood was selling SPG points with a nice bonus attached – up to 50%! The strategy included finding three accounts that had the 50% offer, purchasing 30,000 points per account for a total of 90,000 points, transferring to Marriott which will get you 270,000 points (1 SPG point = 3 Marriott points), and then redeeming those points for Marriott’s Nights + Flight Package #3. This redemption gives you 120,000 Southwest points plus a 7-night certificate at a category 1-5 Marriott hotel. The best part at the time was that those 120,000 Southwest points were qualifying Companion Pass points. Since you only need 110,000 points to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, this redemption opportunity gave it to you right off the bat. The Companion Pass then allows another person to fly with you on Southwest Airlines for FREE (plus taxes) an UNLIMITED number of times for the life of the pass (which expires December 31 of the following year it is earned).
While this was a great strategy, Southwest unfortunately put the kibosh on hotel transfers counting towards the Companion Pass. That means, for those that were waiting till January 1, 2017 to redeem for Marriott’s Night + Flight package, those points transferred over to Southwest will NO LONGER count towards the Companion Pass. With that being said, you’ll still earn 120,000 Southwest points (worth approx $1,800) and receive a 7-night stay certificate at a category 1-5 Marriott hotel (worth approximately $750 for the average person, but could potentially be worth a lot more depending on how you use it). So if you bought the SPG points for $1,575 (for those that had the 50% bonus offer), you are still ahead of the game. Now, if you purchased points with a lower bonus offer, let’s say a 25% or 35% offer, you are probably breaking even. So hopefully no real loss in money, but definitely not what you were hoping for.
Now, if you are no longer interested in the Southwest points due to no Companion Pass, there are other Marriott Night + Flight packages which can actually provide some great opportunities.
Due to the United and Marriott partnership, you’ll earn bonus miles when redeeming for the United Nights + Flights package. For the same 270,000 Marriott points you’ll earn a 7-night stay at a Marriott category 1-5 hotel plus 132,000 United miles. I personally value United miles somewhere between 1.5-1.8 miles per cent, so the 132,000 miles is worth approximately $1,980-$2,376. This is probably the BEST value you will receive with Marriott’s Nights + Flights redemption, although a lot of it comes down to where you are looking to go, class of service, and availability. But as a blanket statement, this is a good option.
American Airlines Miles
This is part of the Nights + Flights Package #1. With the same redemption as above, you’ll earn 120,000 American Airline miles. I personally value American miles to be worth the same as United, so you’ll definitely receive less value, but as I mentioned above, it all depends on where you are looking to go. The American Airline miles received can be worth between $1,800-$2,160.
Also part of package #1, so you’ll receive the same 120,000 miles, but I do not value Delta miles to be nearly as good American and United. So unless you have a specific redemption in mind at a great value, I would not redeem for this option. I value Delta miles to be worth approximately 1-1.4 cents per point. This means 120,000 miles is worth $1,200-$1,680.
Also part of package #1, but if accruing Alaska Airline miles is your goal, redeeming for Marriott’s Night + Flights package is NOT the way to go. You’ll actually want to keep your miles in Starwood and transfer them directly from there. As of right now, you can transfer SPG points to Alaska Airlines at a rate of 1:1.625. However, you only get this good redemption option when you transfer in increments of 20,000 points. With Starwood, when you transfer your points to a partner airline you get a 5,000 point bonus with every 20,000 points transferred. This 1:1.625 ratio takes into consideration this bonus. With this option you’ll yield more Alaska Airline miles, but you will not receive the 7-night Marriott certificate. If you actually have a need for the certificate, then the Nights + Flights option could be worth it for you. Just put a price on the 7-night stay and do the math to see which one is better. This transfer from SPG to Alaska Airlines is ending on January 6, 2017.
JetBlue and Virgin America
Both of these airlines are part of package #4 and a pretty horrible redemption option. With the same 270,000 Marriott points, you’ll only earn 80,000 points in the respective airline. JetBlue points are not worth a lot and the 80,000 points will probably get you a maximum of $1,000 in travel. Virgin America at least has a somewhat decent valuation, being between 1.5-2.3 points per cent. At the high end, you are getting $1,840 worth of travel.
Other Package #1 options:
In addition to Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines, the other package #1 options include: Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic. With any of these transfers you’ll receive the same 120,000 miles. The value depends on the program you are looking to transfer to and how you are looking to use your miles. For example, British Airways redemptions on American Airlines domestically can be very high, but if you are looking to go to London, the surcharges alone will make it a horrible redemption.
Package #2 options:
I did not dive into any specific airline valuation within this package as they are all international carriers and do not pertain to the masses. And, if you typically redeem with any of these airlines, you are already skilled in the miles and points world! These airline programs include: eroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines. While points/miles from some programs can be worth a lot, you’ll only receive 85,000 miles for the same 270,000 Marriott redemption.
Even though the Southwest Companion Pass option is no longer available, there are still some great redemption opportunities for Marriott’s Night + Flight packages. Also, if you purchased the 90,000 SPG points, using them for a Starwood hotel is a great option as well! Starwood hotels are amazing and worth approximately 2 cents per point. So the points purchased are worth approximately $1,800. Maybe not worth as much as the airline options, but using hotel points is so much easier then finding award availability. Or, you can always transfer them to Marriott and redeem for a Marriott hotel. This way you aren’t stuck at needing a 7-night stay to make the certificate worth it.
My #1 suggestion is to waiting and see where you need the points vs. redeeming now. How will you use your points?