Now through June 27, 2013, American Express Membership Rewards is now offering a 20% bonus on transfers to HawaiianMiles. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,200 HawaiianMiles and they transfer instantly.
Award seats on Hawaiian start at 20,00 miles each way from Hawaii to the mainland for coach, and 40,000 miles each way for first class. I was able to find decent award availability for some dates this summer. With this bonus, you could transfer 34,000 Amex points, and would receive 40,800 HawaiianMiles, enough miles for a coach award from Los Angeles to Maui. To buy this outright, these coach flights would run $821.00, giving you a value of 2.4 cents per Amex Membership Rewards point, which isn’t amazing, but if you are thinking about going to Hawaii soon, this could be an option to use liquidate some of your Amex points instead of shelling out the cash.
By comparison, that same ticket would cost you just 25,000 British Airways Avios if you redeemed them on American and with the recent 35% transfer bonus from Amex to BA, you’d have needed just 19,000 Amex points for pretty much the same itinerary, though award availability is tight, and Hawaiian Airlines’ planes are much newer and service is better from what I hear.
Intra-island awards start at just 7,500 HawaiianMiles, so with this bonus, that means you’ll only need to transfer just 6,250 Amex points for a quick hop over to a neighboring island.
In addition, Hawaiian Airlines has some good partner redemption options. They are currently not part of any of the three major alliances but they partner with several different airlines including non-alliance partners such as: ANA, Delta, Korean Air, JetBlue, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. In some cases, it might make more sense to redeem Hawaiian Miles than miles on those partners. For instance, you only need 55,000 Hawaiian Miles to get from the mainland US to Europe on Delta in economy instead of the 60,000 Delta SkyMiles it would cost you (if you can find a saver level award, which can be…challenging). So with this promo, you’d only need 46,000 Amex points for that award.
Another case where this might make sense is if you wanted to fly Virgin America, whose point redemptions are based on the fare you purchase and points are worth between about 1.5-2.5 cents each, so the higher the fare, the more points you need.
Hawaiian offers a distance-based table for Virgin America awards, so Main Cabin Select or First Class seats, which can be extremely expensive when redeeming Virgin Elevate points, can be a bit more reasonable using HawaiianMiles. For example, you’d need 60,000 HawaiianMiles (50,000 Amex points) to fly Main Cabin Select or 90,000 HawaiianMiles (75,000 Amex points) to fly First Class between Los Angeles and New York JFK. That might seem like a lot of miles, but roundtrip award flights from LAX-JFK usually run around 50,000-70,000 Elevate points for Main Cabin Select or 150,000-175,000 Elevate points for First Class, so transferring your Amex points to HawaiianMiles and redeeming those for Virgin America flights in premium classes of service could literally save you 100,000 points as opposed to transferring to Elevate points instead – where the transfer ratio is 2 Amex points to 1 Elevate point.
Keep in mind, to use your HawaiianMiles for other airlines flight awards, you must call the HawaiianMiles Service Center which is 1-877-426-4537 and you can’t book online, so that’s a bit of a hassle, but well worth it if you’re saving a ton of points.
Do you plan on taking advantage of this transfer bonus?
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