We’re only a few days into 2017 and it seems to already be rough year for Points & Miles hobbyists. Thanks to a very generous loophole in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, Southwest Airlines counts points transfers from hotel or rental car loyalty programs as elite qualifying activity toward earning Companion Pass.

Although this loophole has existed for many years, this “trick” has recently become much more well known prompting Southwest to finally take action and close the loophole. On December 31, 2016 without notice, Southwest Airlines announced point transfers would not longer count toward earning Companion Pass. This news comes much to the dismay of many who looked to maximize this loophole by transferring points in early 2017 to earn companion pass for all of 2017 and 2018.

Clearly, Southwest Airlines received a significant amount of backlash by making this change and yesterday (per ThePointsGuy) announced points transfers will continue to count towards Companion Pass status until March 31, 2017!

How To Transfer Points

Transferring points to the Rapid Rewards program is a fairly straightforward process and works the same as transferring flexible credit card points to a travel partner. Points can be transferred from the following hotel loyalty programs: Best Western, Club Carlson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, LaQuinta, Marriott, MLife, RocketMiles, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Majority of US rental car agencies also can be transferred to the Rapid Rewards Program.

Maximizing the Benefit

As I mentioned above, now is the best time to transfer points toward earning Companion Pass because the status is good for the remainder of the qualifying year AND the year following. This means if you initiate the transfer of points equal to 110,000 Rapid Rewards points today, you would keep Companion Pass status until December 31, 2018! That nearly two full years of your Companion traveling with you for almost free (just taxes and airport fees). It truly is one of the best benefits out there.

Also, you can use those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points toward purchasing travel for which your Companion can again fly for (almost) free!

Final Thoughts

Airlines and Hotel loyalty programs are undergoing major changes as they become ever more popular among consumers and companies continue to make changes to offer a quality program which will not hurt the bottom line. Unfortunately for consumers, many of these changes are happening without notice. I am glad Southwest extended the window in to March 31, 2017 which should give those who hoped to capitalize on the loophole enough time to transfer the points necessary. Also, it is important to remember that credit card signup bonuses and credit card spending will continue to count toward Rapid Rewards Elite status going forward.