The best ways to get to Hawaii using points and miles
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From the bustling city of Honolulu to the Road to Hana, Hawaii truly has something for everyone. Each of the Hawaiian islands has its own unique flair, pristine beaches and stunning natural beauty. Hawaii is closed to tourism until at least Sept. 1st, but planning a 2021 post-coronavirus trip now gives you something to look forward to.
Planning a trip to The Aloha State? In this article, we’ll show you the best ways to get to Hawaii using miles and points. We’ve focused on finding flights to Honolulu (HNL), but pricing is the same to all Hawaiian islands unless otherwise noted.
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Southwest Rapid Rewards
Southwest debuted new routes to Hawaii in 2019, both intra-Island and from the mainland U.S. This was great news for Southwest Companion Pass holders who can take a companion on all Southwest flights for the price of taxes. In other words: it’s BOGO for flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards is different from other programs on this list. Its award prices are tied to the cash price of a ticket. According to TPG’s valuations, you’ll generally receive 1.5 cents per Southwest point toward flights. So If you find a $600 round-trip ticket to Honolulu, you can expect to pay around 40,000 Southwest points.
Below are a couple of example prices. Here, a round-trip flight from Chicago (MDW) to Honolulu costs 34,738 points or ~$520 cash.
Alternatively, a round-trip flight from Oakland (OAK) to Maui (OGG) costs 17,934 points or $266 in cash.
Earning Southwest points
Southwest points are relatively easy to earn too. There are five Southwest credit cards that come with big welcome bonuses. Three are personal cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn up to 80,000 points. Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.
And two are small-business cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus points; earn 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Plus, an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first six months.
Remember, you’ll earn the Southwest Companion Pass after earning 125,000 qualifying points in one calendar year. This includes miles earned with a credit card, so consider getting one to fast-track qualification. Due to the pandemic, Southwest is giving all members 25 qualifying flights and 25,000 qualifying points toward the Companion Pass.
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest instantly at a 1:1 ratio. That said, you’ll need a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to do this. Unfortunately, points transferred to Southwest don’t count towards the Companion Pass.
Further reading: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles offers great pricing to Hawaii too. Its a member of Star Alliance, so you can use these miles to book United Airlines award flights. Here’s a look at round-trip pricing:
- 15,000 miles round-trip in economy
- 25,000 miles round-trip in business class (United Airlines first class)
Those are stunning rates, but they come with a couple of drawbacks.
The first is the booking process. You must find open award seats with your favorite Star Alliance search tool and contact Turkish to book. To do this, call the airline at 1-800-874-8875 or send them an email. Keep in mind that you can only book saver-level awards with Turkish.
Further reading: Booking United first class to Hawaii with Turkish Miles & Smiles
Earning Turkish Airlines miles
Another drawback is that Turkish Airlines miles are hard to earn. The only efficient way to earn these miles is by spending on cards that earn Citi ThankYou Rewards points. You can transfer these points to Turkish Airlines at a 1:1 ratio, but it can take up to two days for the transfer to process.
Turkish Airlines lets you hold award seats for two days. Call Turkish Airlines before you transfer points to make sure the agent can confirm award seats are available. Then, ask for a hold and immediately transfer your ThankYou points. Call back to confirm your tickets once the transfer processes.
British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios provide excellent value for domestic award tickets on American Airlines, and Hawaii is no exception. The airline flies to Hawaii from many of its U.S. hubs, including Los Angeles (LAX), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Phoenix (PHX).
In addition, British Airways also partners with Alaska Airlines. The Seattle-based carrier flies to Hawaii from multiple West Coast gateways, including Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO), Portland (PDX) and Seattle (SEA). These awards must be booked over the phone but you’ll get the same pricing as American awards.
Speaking of pricing, you can fly to Hawaii for just 13,000 Avios each way in economy. You’ll pay more for flights from the Midwest or East Coast thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart. British Airways also prices by segment, so connecting itineraries cost more too.
For example, you can book a nonstop flight from Phoenix to Honolulu for 26,000 Avios round-trip. At the same time, you’d pay 41,000 Avios round-trip if you connect via Los Angeles. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Phoenix to Los Angeles: 15,000 Avios round-trip
- Los Angeles to Honolulu: 26,000 Avios round-trip
Earning British Airways Avios
There are plenty of different ways to earn British Airways Avios. You can open the British Airways Visa Signature Card and earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Then, you can earn an additional 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year.
That’s right: up to 100,000 bonus Avios from one bonus. If you’re departing from the West Coast, you’d have enough Avios to book four round-trip flights to Hawaii from this welcome bonus.
Further reading: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards
Alaska Mileage Plan
Alternatively, you can book the exact same airlines (Alaska and American) with Alaska Airlines‘ Mileage Plan program. The benefit here is that Alaska’s award chart is priced by region instead of distance.
With that in mind, a connecting flight from the U.S. to Hawaii doesn’t cost more miles than a nonstop. This is especially useful for those flying from west of the Mississippi or from smaller gateways that “force” a connection in a larger hub.
Here’s how much it costs to fly round-trip from the mainland to Hawaiian with Alaska miles. Economy flights are more expensive on American Airlines than Alaska Airlines, so pick your flights wisely.
Continental U.S. to Hawaii (Alaska Airlines):
- Economy: 30,000 miles
- First: 80,000 miles
Continental U.S. to Hawaii (American Airlines):
- Economy: 45,000 miles
- First: 80,000 miles
Thankfully, all flights are bookable on Alaska’s website. Prices on American Airlines are good, but not the cheapest option. You can likely book a comparable price with another airline using rewards that are much easier to earn than Alaska Airlines miles.
Earning Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles
Now for the bad news. It’s hard to earn Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles with a credit card. The program doesn’t partner with any transferable point programs, but you can transfer Marriott points. These transfers process at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000 mile bonus awarded for 60,000 point transfers.
You can also open the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. It comes with a $100 statement credit and 40,000 bonus miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Plus, you’ll get Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare, which lets you book a ticket for a travel companion from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22). The information for the Alaska Airlines Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Korean Air SkyPass
Korean Air offers great award pricing on Delta flights to Hawaii with its SKYPASS program. Korean Air prices all awards originating in the U.S. as the same award, and the pricing is comparable to a standard domestic route on many legacy airlines’ award charts. These can’t be booked online, so you need to find award availability using your favorite SkyTeam search tool and call Korean Air to book.
Here’s how many miles you’d need for a round-trip award ticket to Hawaii with Korean:
Continental U.S. to Hawaii:
- Economy: 25,000 miles
- First Class: 45,000 miles
Earning Korean Airlines SkyPASS Miles
Korean Air SKYPASS was a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner until August 2018. Nowadays, Korean Air miles are a lot harder to earn. You have two options for earning Korean Airlines miles without flying: using the SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card from US Bank or by transferring in Marriott points. The SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 SKYPASS miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Based in a Star Alliance hub? Consider using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for your next trip to Hawaii. Its partner Untied Airlines operates nonstop flights to Hawaii from its various hubs, including Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), Denver (DEN), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX).
As an added bonus, long haul routes from its East Coast and Midwest hubs are operated by internationally configured widebody aircraft with lie-flat seats. It’s one of the few airlines that operated long-haul routes from the U.S. East Coast to Hawaii.
On top of this, Singapore Airlines also partners with Alaska Airlines. The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program has a separate award chart for Alaska redemptions with lower rates than United. In some cases, the chart is even cheaper than British Airways.
There is some bad news, though. You can’t book connecting Alaska itineraries with Singapore, so you’re limited to departing from the airlines’ West Coast hubs. Further, first-class Alaska tickets are expensive and better booked with other Alaska partners.
Here’s how much round-trip tickets to Hawaii cost using Krisflyer miles:
Booking United Airlines flights with KrisFlyer
Continental U.S. to Hawaii (United Airlines):
- Economy: 35,000 miles
- First Class: 69,000 miles
Booking Alaska Airlines flights with Krisflyer
West Coast to Hawaii (Alaska Airlines):
- Economy: 24,000 miles
- First Class: 89,000 miles
Earning Singapore Krisflyer miles
Singapore Airlines miles are some of the easiest miles to earn. Krisflyer is a transfer partner of all five transferrable points programs, including:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Capital One Miles
- Marriott Bonvoy
Further reading: A guide to earning transferable points
American Airlines AAdvantage
You can redeem American Airlines miles for award flights to Hawaii on both American and Alaska. Economy prices are fair, but it’s not the cheapest way to get to paradise — especially in business class. Here’s what you’ll pay from the mainland U.S.:
- Economy: 45,000 miles
- First class: 80,000 miles
American Airlines sells discounted award seats to Hawaii during their “off-peak” dates. Discounted prices are 40,000 miles round-trip. Here are the dates:
- To Hawaii: Dec. 29 – Mar. 12, Aug,11 – Nov. 18, Nov. 24 – Dec. 10
- From Hawaii: Jan. 7 – Mar. 19, Aug. 18 – Nov. 27, Dec. 3 – Dec. 25
Better yet, you may also be able to score lower award pricing if you book Web Special award tickets. These frequently offer lower pricing on select American-operated flights, so keep an eye out the next time you book.
Earning American Airlines miles
One of the best is the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. This card offers 50,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $95 annual fee within 90 days of account opening.
The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
United Airlines MileagePlus
- Economy: 45,000 miles round-trip
- First class: 80,000 miles round-trip
United Airlines awards are easy to find thanks to its user-friendly website. If you’re a United Airlines credit card holder — or if you have United Airlines elite status — you’ll have access to a larger inventory of award seats too. Just go to United.com and search for a ticket find the most up to date pricing.
Earning United Airlines miles
There are a number of credit cards that’ll help you earn United Airlines MileagePlus miles quickly:
- United Explorer Card: 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
- United Club Infinite Card: 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
You can also instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to United at a ratio of 1:1. If you’re just starting out, you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which offers 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Delta doesn’t publish an award chart, so award pricing can be difficult. You have to search for specific dates to see the price and these can change wildly day-by-day.
That said, you can find excellent deals on some dates. For example, a one-way flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Honolulu (HNL) costs 17,500 SkyMiles in basic economy and $5.60 in early December:
Additionally, a flight from New York-JFK to Kona (KOA) via Seattle (SEA) costs 18,500 SkyMiles in basic economy and 20,000 in Main Cabin. First class, however, is a whopping 22,000 miles one-way. All of these tickets have $5.60 in taxes.
Even better, Delta Airlines frequently runs award sales. In the past, we’ve seen round-trip ticket from the mainland to Hawaii for just 33,000 miles round-trip, so keep an eye out. We always recommend running a search to see if using SkyMiles make sense for your next trip.
Earning Delta SkyMiles
You can open Delta credit cards and earn their welcome bonuses to earn miles quickly. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card offers 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first 3 months of account opening.
You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. Consider opening The Platinum Card® from American Express to stock up quickly. This card earns 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of account opening. Plus, the $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) is largely offset by Delta SkyClub lounge access, an up to $200 airline fee credit and other benefits.
You have a number of options for redeeming points and miles to fly to Hawaiian from the mainland U.S. Korean Airlines SKYPASS is the cheapest option, but limited earning opportunities make it a tough redemption for most travelers.
For West Coast travelers, booking nonstop Alaska or American flights with British Airways Avios is a great value. Alternatively, those with connecting itineraries should consider using Singapore KrisFlyer miles to book United flights.
One thing’s for sure: you have plenty of options at your disposal. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to utilize one of these options for your first post-coronavirus vacation!
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
Additional reporting by Joseph Hostetler
Featured photo by Dana Edmunds/Hawaii Tourism Authority
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