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How Can I Earn More Miles to Fly to Hawaii?

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TPG Reader Karla sent me a message on Facebook to ask about how to get award flights to Hawaii:

“I’m trying to find the best way to get my family to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines. We have one flight covered with miles, and we plan to purchase another at full price and use a companion fare, but we still need two more tickets. We have Starwood and Alaska Airlines cards, and have already earned bonuses for both. What would you suggest?”

It’s no surprise that Hawaii is a popular destination for award travelers. There’s plenty to do and see, lots of great hotel options (like the Andaz Maui and the St. Regis Princeville) and many ways to get there using points and miles. Although award flights to the islands tend to be a bit pricier than other domestic travel, they’re still pretty affordable.

Karla and her family have already figured out they want to fly on Alaska Airlines, but that doesn’t necessarily lock them into using Mileage Plan miles to book their awards — remember, the airline you want to fly on isn’t necessarily the one whose rewards you want to use. Thanks to Alaska’s non-alliance partnerships with American, Delta and other major airlines, there are several options and some of them offer better value for these flights than Alaska does.

Jonathan and his fian
Alaska Airlines is a good option for getting to Hawaii, but you can use miles from a number of carriers to get there.

One particularly good option if you’re flying from the West Coast is to redeem British Airways Avios for economy flights on Alaska. British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, and flights between 2,000-3,000 miles cost only 12,500 points each way, even on partner airlines. That means you’ll need just 25,000 Avios per person for nonstop, round-trip service to Hawaii. You could earn enough for two (or more) of those flights with the British Airways Visa Signature Card, which recently launched an increased offer for as much as 100,000 points.

Karla already has the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, which offers an annual coach companion fare for $121 ($99 plus taxes and fees). However, this card also has a business version with similar benefits, so you (or someone else in your party) could get another Alaska card and purchase the last two fares at a discount using a second companion fare. Of course, you’d also need to factor the $75 annual fee into your calculations.

Although you can boost your Mileage Plan account with the Alaska card or the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, I don’t think going after more Alaska miles is the best strategy. Alaska charges 40,000 miles for round-trip economy flights between the mainland US and Hawaii, which is on the high side. If none of the options above work for you, consider booking through the AAdvantage program, which offers a slight discount at 35,000 miles round-trip for off-peak awards from January 12 to March 13 and August 22 to December 15.

As you can see, there are plenty of options, but I think British Airways is your best bet.

For more on booking award flights to Hawaii, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

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  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable $95 0% Excellent Credit