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TPG reader Nick sent me a tweet to ask about traveling in Hawaii:
“Would it make sense to transfer Starpoints to Hawaiian Airlines for interisland travel?”
I think Hawaii is one travel destination that really lives up to the hype. Each island has a lot to offer, and if you’ve got time to spare, it’s worth visiting more than one. Fortunately, getting from one island to another isn’t difficult, and there are several options for booking awards with plenty of availability.
If you want to use points or miles for an interisland flight, then you’re probably going to be flying on Hawaiian Airlines metal in any case; the only question is which program you use to actually book your award. Hawaiian offers flights between all the larger islands (including Moloka’i and Lānaʻi) for 7,500 miles one-way. You’ll find the same price on Delta and American (since the AAdvantage award chart devaluation in March increased the price from 5,000 miles). That’s much less than the cost of a normal domestic flight, but you can do better.
Virgin Atlantic offers interisland awards for 12,000 miles round-trip with no fuel surcharges. The problem is that you can’t book one-way flights (though you can book open jaw itineraries), so that might work depending on your travel plans. United charges 6,000 miles each way and allows one-way awards, so that’s a strong option. However, Virgin America charges just 3,000 points each way, making it by far the cheapest interisland award out there.
Getting back to Nick’s question, Starwood Preferred Guest recently became a Virgin America transfer partner, but as you’ll get the best value when transferring 20,000 Starpoints, thanks to Starwood’s 5,000-point bonus, it might not be the best option for these low-cost awards. We value SPG points at 2.5 cents each, so you’ll be transferring $75 worth of points for a one-way flight, booked via Virgin America.
Interisland flights are typically less than $100 each way, so it’s not the most valuable way to redeem Starpoints. If you’re just trying to keep cash costs down, then I recommend using fixed-value rewards like Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card miles or miles earned with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Save your Starpoints for more lucrative award redemptions, such as your flight to Hawaii from the mainland.
For more ideas about booking award travel to and around Hawaii, check out these posts:
- Credit Card Combinations for a Hawaiian Vacation
- Planning a Hawaiian Vacation with Hilton HHonors Points
- A Trip to Maui and the Big Island on Points and Miles
Know before you go.
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