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American Express is currently offering a new transfer bonus for Membership Rewards. Now through December 21, if you have a card like the Amex Premier Rewards Gold or Amex Platinum that earns Membership Rewards, you’ll be able to transfer points to Hawaiian Airlines with a 25% bonus.
Throughout the year, Amex has offered some other perks for transferring to partners, such as Elevate Gold for Virgin America, and a 25% bonus to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club. Unless you’re a frequent Hawaiian flyer, it’s unlikely you have too many miles with the airline already — and redeeming award flights to Hawaii is getting harder with partners — so this could be a great opportunity to redeem for a trip to Hawaii.
With this promotion, you can transfer points in 1,000-point increments. For every 1,000 points you transfer, you’ll receive 1,250 Hawaiian miles. Note also that American Express charges a tax of 60 cents per 1,000 points transferred to Hawaiian.
Hawaiian prices round-trip economy awards starting at 15,000 miles for intra-island flights or 40,000 miles for flights to Hawaii from North America. Round-trip first-class flights are priced from 30,000 miles for travel within Hawaii, or 80,000 miles for travel from the mainland. While intra-island flights are usually relatively inexpensive, flights from the East Coast to Hawaii can be quite pricey, making award redemptions a bit more appealing.
For example, here’s a sample round-trip flight from Honolulu (HNL) to Maui (OGG):
And here’s a round-trip economy flight from New York (JFK) to Honolulu (HNL):
Is it worth it?
TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents apiece. Looking at economy awards only (before taking taxes and fees into account), a 15,000-mile intra-island flight would normally require $285 worth of Amex points, while a 40,000-mile mainland flight would require $760 worth of points. With the 25% bonus, the value of the points required for those awards drops to $228 and $608, respectively. Also, keep in mind that you won’t earn miles on award flights.
If you’re interested in booking a flight in first class, you can get quite a bit more value. New York to Honolulu in first costs about $3,000 (although exact prices can fluctuate quite a bit). At $3,000, you’d be getting 3.8 cents per mile in value — and that value increases as the ticket prices approach $4,000 or $5,000. Of course, first-class award seats can be difficult to come by on premium routes, so be sure to check availability before transferring Amex points, as transfers are irreversible.
Ultimately, Hawaiian miles aren’t super useful if you’re not based in Hawaii. The airline has a limited reach and isn’t part of alliance so redeeming points with other airlines might be a bit tricky. With that said, flights to and from Hawaii can get quite expensive, and this 25% bonus makes the transfer much more valuable — and worth considering if you have a particular redemption in mind. If not, you should probably keep your points with Amex.
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